21 July 1998


21 July 1998

Press Release



In recognition that the problems facing today's young people cannot be solved without their active participation, the third session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations system will be convened in Braga, Portugal, from 2 to 7 August. The five-day meeting will adopt the Braga Youth Action Plan and other recommendations for transmittal to the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, which meets in Lisbon from 8 to 12 August. (See also Press Release SOC/4455/Rev.1 of 1 July 1998.)

President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal is expected to open the World Youth Forum, together with United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Hirofumi Ando. After the meeting, a World Youth Train will take the Forum's participants to Lisbon on 8 August, and a delegation will make a formal presentation to the opening session of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth.

"The Forum is of vital importance since it deals with issues that are crucial to young people, such as education and employment", said John Langmore, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DSPD/DESA). By strengthening partnerships between the United Nations system and the broad range of youth organizations which will participate in the Forum, he stated, and by bringing their message to the Ministers' Conference in Lisbon, the Forum will constitute an important step towards the full and effective participation of young men and women in all spheres of society.

Among the problems which hinder the full participation of youth in the development of their societies are limited resources for funding youth programmes and activities; inequities in social, economic and political conditions; gender discrimination; high levels of youth unemployment; armed conflict; deterioration of the global environment; incidence of disease, hunger and malnutrition; changes in the role of the family; and inadequate opportunities for education and training.

Both the World Youth Forum and the Ministerial Conference are concerned with the review, appraisal and implementation of the World Youth Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. This international strategy was

adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995, on the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year. Its aim is to effectively address the problems of young people and to increase opportunities for their participation in society. It sets clearly defined targets and guidelines for youth-related planning, and places particular emphasis on the need to strengthen national capacities and to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities available to young people. It especially called for both the Ministerial Conference and the World Youth Forum to be held to reflect the views of governmental ministers responsible for youth and of youth non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in this process.

The third session of the Forum is being convened by the United Nations in partnership with the Portuguese National Youth Council. The Forum's first and second sessions were held at Vienna in 1991 and 1996, respectively, the second being held in partnership with the Austrian Federal Youth Council.

The overall goals of the World Youth Forum are to develop long-term strategies to place the concerns of young men and women on the development agenda, and to help youth organizations better participate in ongoing policy- making at the international level. Under the theme of "Youth Participation for Human Development", representatives from non-governmental youth organizations, youth-related agencies of the United Nations system and inter- governmental organizations will join forces to discuss enhanced cooperation. It is expected that more than 500 young people from 150 countries will participate in the Forum.

William D. Angel, Officer-in-Charge of the Youth Unit, DSPD/DESA, said the Forum was the only such meeting place in the United Nations system where youth NGOs from the 49 least developed countries came together on a regular basis with their counterparts from other parts of the world. He said the importance of the third session of the Forum was reflected in the four international and four regional youth preparatory meetings which have preceded it, in 1997 and 1998. In addition to its results being presented to the first World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth at Lisbon, they would also be considered by the General Assembly at its fifty-third session and by other policy-making bodies of the United Nations system.

The agenda of the World Youth Forum will focus on three themes: (1) youth policies; (2) youth participation; and (3) youth and human rights. Seven working groups will be organized around these three cluster areas. Each working group will be prepared and co-chaired by a team of representatives of the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations and of non-governmental youth organizations.

The seven working groups will focus their discussions on the following sub-topics: integrated cross-sectoral youth policies and youth NGO cooperation; youth, poverty eradication and development and participation of all young people; the United Nations system and youth organizations; education for the twenty-first

- 3 - Press Release SOC/4456 21 July 1998

century; youth employment for social development; youth, health and development; and youth and the promotion of human rights, a youth rights charter and a United Nations special rapporteur on youth rights.

"Because the United Nations represents a common ground for understanding among the nations of the world and youth organizations are advocates and actors for social change, the meeting between the two has huge potential", explained Marcos Andrade, Acting President, Portuguese National Youth Council, which will host the Forum. Youth organizations have high expectations that the United Nations considers them serious partners, he said, and, therefore, the Forum has great possibilities.

As at past sessions of the World Youth Forum, there will be a World Youth Expo of about 30 booths at the Forum site in Braga, to give an opportunity to the three partners of the Forum -- youth NGOs; youth-related agencies and organizations of the United Nations system; and youth intergovernmental organizations -- to present their specific activities.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.