26 July 2011

Crowning High-Level Meeting of General Assembly on Youth, Outcome Document Urges Decisive Action to Overcome Young People’s Widespread Unemployment

26 July 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly


111th & 112th Meetings (AM & PM)

Crowning High-Level Meeting of General Assembly on Youth, Outcome Document Urges

Decisive Action to Overcome Young People’s Widespread Unemployment


Sixty Speakers Voice Support for Participation of ‘Dot-Com Generation’

In Peace, Development Efforts, Deeming Twenty-First Century One of Human Capital

Senior Government officials at a special session of the General Assembly today called on Member States, with the support of the United Nations, to take action to enable young people to overcome widespread unemployment and other problems and to ensure that they participated integrally in global efforts for peace and sustainable development.

Through the outcome document of the High-level Meeting on Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, adopted by consensus (document A/65/L.87), the Assembly enumerated some 17 areas of action by Member States, pledging “to fulfil our commitments to promote youth development, dialogue and mutual understanding, paying due attention to the relevant internationally agreed development goals”.

United Nations entities and their partners were requested to strengthen international cooperation and the exchange of good practices through the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, to develop additional measures to address youth challenges and engage in close collaboration with States, as well as civil society, on the issue.  Donors were called upon, in addition, to support the implementation of the outcome document, as well as the World Programme of Action for Youth.

Among the areas of action, the Assembly called for support initiatives to anticipate and offset “the negative social and economic consequences of globalization and to maximize its benefits for young people”.  A particular focus in that regard was inclusive job creation, skill development and vocational training to meet specific labour market needs, among other measures.  The creation of a global strategy on youth employment, incorporating regional strategies, was urged.

Related provisions in the text called for measures to strengthen educational opportunity and to promote human rights knowledge among youth, as well as dialogue for mutual understanding.  Member States were also urged to take measures to protect young people affected or exploited by terrorism and incitement.

By other terms, the Assembly pledged to strengthen the use of information technology to improve the lives of young people, ensure that they enjoyed the highest attainable standards of health, countering such threats as HIV/AIDS and obesity, and to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants.  Support was urged for youth-led organizations to strengthen their capacity to participate in national and international development activities.

Following the adoption of that document, 60 speakers voiced their support for the participation of young people in national and global efforts for peace, development and human rights, urging global attention to overcoming obstacles to the self-realization of youth consistent with the wide-ranging outcome document.  Many spoke of the need to harness the energy of youth that had been witnessed in recent upheavals in Arab countries.

The outcome document, said Benin’s President, Boni Yayi, was “the crowning point for the International Year of Youth”.  He stressed that the energy exhibited in the revolutions in the Arab world made young people agents for change and an invaluable asset for development all over the world.  “The twenty-first century will be the century of human capital, embodied in young people,” he said.

Similarly, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Tunisia said that a peaceful and spontaneous revolution in his country had been carried out by members of the “dot-com generation”, representing all strata of society, whose slogans were deeply rooted in the values of peace and democracy.  “We are counting on their strength to fulfil the promises of the revolution,” he said.

Several speakers today proposed that the United Nations create a body dedicated to overcoming the severe problems, such as unemployment, that beset young people the world over, and to foster youth involvement in solving global problems.  Proposing the creation of an agency called “UN Youth”, the Minister of Youth of the Dominican Republic said: “Let us show that we are aware of the titanic responsibility on our shoulders.”

Youth delegates from Germany and Sweden pressed for the empowerment of youth organizations, prioritizing the issues of employment, education and migration.  The youth delegate from Germany, asking if young people really had been involved in decisions regarding the Meeting, urged “the involvement of youth in the entire decision-making process, beginning with defining the relevant issues and ending with the implementation and evaluation of the policies”.

The President of Zimbabwe also spoke.

Also speaking today, including at the ministerial level, were representatives of Luxembourg, Suriname (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Namibia (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Morocco, Qatar, Ecuador, Honduras, Sri Lanka, Gabon, Cameroon, Botswana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kenya, Congo, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Jamaica, Mali, Ghana, Mongolia, China, Haiti, Angola, Romania, Rwanda (on behalf of the African Group), Nicaragua, France, South Africa, Belarus, United States, Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Ethiopia, Monaco, Switzerland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Italy, Guatemala, Belgium, Australia, Republic of Korea, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Niger, Spain, Zambia and Indonesia.

Representatives of Japan and Austria also spoke, as did the Head of the Delegation of the European Union made a statement.

Most speakers today began their presentations by offering condolences to the Government and people of Norway for the mass killings that had taken place there this past weekend.

At the end of the meeting, Ajay Maken, Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports of India, and Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of Youth and Sports of Ghana, summarized yesterday’s round tables I and II of the Meeting, respectively, which they chaired.

The General Assembly will continue hearing speakers on the same topic at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 28 July.


The General Assembly met today for the general debate of its High-level Meeting on Youth, as well as to adopt an outcome document.  For a summary of the opening day, please see Press Release GA/11117 of 25 July 2011.

Action on Draft

As the Meeting opened this morning, the Assembly adopted draft resolution A/65/L.87, entitled “Outcome document of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”.


BONI YAYI, President of Benin, said that the outcome document was “the crowning point for the International Year of Youth”, which had given the world an exceptional opportunity to mobilize the international community for youth integration, the culture of peace, sustainable development, respect for human rights and respect among civilizations.  Young people now had great aspirations that ran contrary to fundamentalism and extremism.  “Thanks to their idealism and their capacity to mobilize, young people, in their quest for greater freedom, represents an immense force for change in every society.”  The events witnessed in North Africa and the Middle East illustrated that well.

He said that youth faced many development challenges, which had been addressed by the United Nations, but progress had been uneven.  Synergies between existing programmes and harnessing young people’s energy were crucial in all areas.  Young people had to be integrated into all efforts at all levels.  Moreover, regional organizations needed sufficient resources for youth-oriented programmes.  In Benin, for example, young people were integral to the building of the country.  They were an invaluable asset all over the world.  “The twenty-first century will be the century of human capital, embodied in young people.”  The outcome document called for overcoming obstacles to youth in fulfilling that role.

The best way for the United Nations to play its part in that effort would be through a dedicated body for that purpose, he said.  Also necessary was to ensure that youth were mobile, by increasing international cooperation for legal migration.  A sustained campaign for that purpose should be undertaken immediately.  Additionally, a group of friends of youth should be set up to monitor the implementation of the outcome document.  “It is a matter of the future of humanity,” he said.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, said that events in the Middle East and North Africa over the course of the last months where young people had mobilized to claim their rights and liberties needed the international community’s support.  In Luxembourg, the youth policy was based on the framework law of 2008.  That policy encompassed all political fields that had a bearing on the lives of young people, and it also aimed to be participatory, allowing youth to make its voice heard in national political debate through a “Youth Parliament”.

He said that, on the basis of a detailed analysis of the situation of youth in the country, a national action plan was about to be finalized.  The strategy would focus on a limited number of priorities, the first two being support for young people as they transitioned from the world of education to the world of work, as well as support for young families.  Luxembourg’s policy in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian action attached great importance to youth education and to technical and vocational training for young people.  With its partners, whether in Cape Verde, Senegal, Nicaragua, Viet Nam or the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation worked to improve youth employability and development.  His country, given its commitment to peacebuilding, in particular in West Africa and in Guinea, was only too aware that youth employment was essential to establish lasting peace and a durable social cohesion in countries emerging from conflict.

PAUL ABENA, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs and Special Envoy of the President of Suriname, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the group was at the forefront of engaging and integrating young people in the region by providing opportunities to be actively involved and to further their creativity and talents.  The CARICOM youth agenda aimed to empower youths aged 15 to 29 to take advantage of and contribute to regional integration and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.  That policy was anchored in the Regional Strategy for Youth Development, with the thematic priorities of social and economic empowerment opportunities for development, protection, leadership, governance and participation, and health and reproductive rights.

He said an important component of the CARICOM youth agenda since 2003 had been the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme.  That was the Community’s mechanism for deepening levels of youth participation, partnership in regional integration and in region-wide social and economic development processes.  One such regional priority was the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and HIV/AIDS.  Another issue of concern to the region pertained to the high rates of youth unemployment, with young women’s unemployment significantly higher than that of young men’s.  Similarly, crime and violence remained a major concern among adolescents and youth in almost all countries in the region and was associated with poverty, unemployment and social inequalities.  In that regard, CARICOM supported initiatives within the United Nations system that prioritized and increased support for youth development.  He believed the global community would make an excellent investment by increasing financial and capacity-building support for youth development, especially to disadvantaged regions and communities.

KAZENAMBO KAZENAMBO, Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture of Namibia, aligning with the statement by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and speaking on behalf of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), said issues of youth development were a big priority in the Community, and to that end, a programme had been established to address the growing challenges of vulnerable youth in the region.  However, despite the achievements recorded to date, many daunting challenges remained, the biggest of which was unemployment.  A substantive number of SADC youth lacked productive and self-employment opportunities and some of them were either unemployed or underemployed.

He explained that existing structures to empower youth to contribute effectively to national and regional development, in some areas, were weak and grossly underfunded at national and regional levels.  Additionally, the understanding of the concept of youth participation and empowerment often varied between Member States and organizations working across the region, creating a lack of comparability in the region.  That situation greatly challenged coordination of youth development. It was with that in mind that the SADC member States recommended the creation of a United Nations specialized agency for youth to support and fund youth initiatives in Member States. That proposal had been made in view of the fact that the existing United Nations agencies did not adequately address youth development issues.  The proposed new agency would report to a “youth committee”.

MONCEF BELKHAYAT, Minister of Youth and Sports of Morocco, acknowledging that youth today were an essential force for change, he pointed out that Morocco had experienced during the past decade profound reforms, sectoral schemes and structural transformations that had embraced all fields, including the economic, social and political arenas.  The country had also made major strides towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, with particular emphasis on fighting poverty, marginalization, fragility and exclusion.  Morocco had also recorded remarkable progress in gender equity and equality, enhancing women’s political representation and their active presence in public life, in the areas of health, family and education and the labour market.

He stressed that fulfilling the aspirations of youth in the Arab countries had always been the overriding concern of the national policies and the decisions taken at Arab summits, the most recent of which had declared the period 2010-2011 International Youth Year.  One such summit in May had produced the Arab Youth Policies Document, later approved by the Council of Arab Youth and Sports Ministers in Marrakech.  However, regardless of the magnitude of the national effort of each individual country, and of the degree of effectiveness of the espoused youth policies, success remained contingent on concerted regional and international efforts to overcome the challenges facing youth.  That was the objective of the Arab Youth Observatory, recently established in Rabat, which would be a mechanism to predict future youth trends.  Hopefully, the Observatory would help “erase” borders and create a new communication dynamic among the peoples of the Arab region, in the interest of economic integration and the mobilization of the capabilities of youth in guaranteeing development.

KHALID MOHAMMAD AL-ATTIYAH, Minister of State for International Cooperation of Qatar, expressed hope that the outcome of the International Year of Youth would enable young people to play a pivotal role in the rapprochement between cultures and religions, and lead to the rejection of stereotypes and the reinforcement of the culture of understanding and mutual respect among peoples.  His country had integrated the commemoration of the Year into its extensive youth efforts, including support for regional initiatives for the provision of decent work, with a goal to reach 100 million jobs by 2020.  Education, health care and gender equality were other important components of that youth policy.

Persons between the ages of 15 and 29 represented more than 30 per cent of the population of Qatar, he said, and as such, they represented a crucial part of the Qatar national strategy for development.  At the international level, he highlighted the Youth Festival, which would be an important part of the Fourth Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations to be held in Doha in December.  Pointing to studies that showed great obstacles for Arab youth, he encouraged the international community to draw lessons from the upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, in order to develop comprehensive policies that took into account young people’s needs and aspirations.  International cooperation had a major role in securing necessary material resources, technical expertise and capacity-building to implement the Meeting’s outcome document.

ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said the youth agenda had been a priority of his Government since the attainment of independence, in recognition of the sacrifices young people had made in that cause.  A Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation had been created and a policy on education had been adopted, which would provide education in skills that would allow youth to participate both in the economy and social and political life.  In spite of the achievements of the ensuing measures, however, youth still faced great obstacles, particularly unemployment.  Changing demographics and global economic conditions now challenged the international community to employ greater innovation in addressing the situation of idle youth, huge numbers of which spanned the African continent.

Describing recent programmes to empower youth in Zimbabwe and fight unemployment and obstacles such as HIV/AIDS, he expressed full support for the resolutions of the African Union Heads of State and Government and other African initiatives.  Youth should be seen as an asset for socio-economic development, and the international community must come up with a well-conceived and properly structured global framework for youth development, which fully addressed the real challenges.  He condemned “any country or group of countries that uses the plight of young people in weaker States to achieve their own sinister political ends, such as regime change”, adding that Zimbabwe continued to be the victim of such “neo-colonial machinations” through illegal sanctions and constant interferences in its domestic affairs.  Such actions should be condemned, as they adversely affected development, particularly youth development.

XIMENA PONCE, Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion of Ecuador, said that her country had changed its centrepiece from a focus purely on market solutions to one in which the human being was at the centre of development.  Women, indigenous people, those in rural sectors and other groups had long been excluded from development policies; today, one excluded group, youth, was being addressed.  Ecuador had seen two different roads — representative democracy and participatory democracy.  The first type institutionalized democracy and, thus, when employed, it should seek to ensure that youth were sufficiently represented.  In that vein, norms and regulations creating a framework allowing for the inclusion of youth were already active on the ground.

There was a need to ensure that civil society organizations had a means of expressing themselves, she added, noting that Ecuador had made progress in those areas.  The country had highlighted the concept of conscientious objection, a way for youth to oppose military service, which was not obligatory in Ecuador.  That policy might be implemented around the world.  Additionally, Ecuador had made progress in ensuring the sexual and reproductive rights of young people and had provided free education, among other key programmes, through to university level.

MARCO ANTONIO MIDENCE MILLA, Minister of Youth of Honduras, said that despite the fact that 68 per cent of his country’s population was under 30 years of age, youth faced a “very serious situation of exclusion” in Honduras.  Only 35 per cent concluded secondary education, and 4 of every 5 unemployed were youths, as were the majority of those seeking to emigrate.  It was not enough to simply give up in the face of those challenges.  As the youngest minister in the history of his country, at 26, he was entrusted with decision-making; similarly, systems were in place to allow other young people to have a voice in the highest branches of Honduran Government.  Thirty per cent of the country’s electoral posts were reserved for youth and training opportunities were widely available.

He welcomed the substantive outcome document of the High-Level Meeting and hoped that the State, civil society organizations and youth could all be partners in decision-making.  For that to happen, the international community must move from words to deeds.  “We must all vanquish that age-old cliché that the future belongs to youth”; in fact, he said, “it is the present that belongs to youth”.

DULLAS ALAHAPPERUMA, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development of Sri Lanka, said that following the end of the scourge of terrorism in his country, the hopes of Sri Lanka’s youth for a secure, better and more progressive State had been renewed.  To that end, a Youth Parliament of Sri Lanka had been conceived and implemented to mark the International Year of Youth.  Sri Lanka’s Government now gave the “utmost priority for programmes for the country’s youth”, he added, noting that the Ministry of Youth Affairs was now integrated with skills development, as endorsed in the 2010 United Nations General Assembly outcome document on the Millennium Development Goals.  In addition to regular employment opportunities, more than 1,300 young people — including former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) combatants — had received vocational training, he said.

He said that youth looked forward to being active partners in development processes in their countries, and to being stakeholders in communities and societies beyond being dependents or beneficiaries.  At the same time, “their fears are real in the context of the current multiple global crises”, in particular with regard to the crises of food prices and climate change.  For those in the developing world, there was a real need to bridge the digital divide, including through the transfer of technology and international cooperation to impart needed knowledge and skills for gainful employment.  Through such cooperation, issues surrounding international migration should be addressed.

GUY NZOUBA NDAMA, President of the National Assembly of Gabon, stressed the importance of dialogue and understanding among the young people of the world, which prepared them to be instruments of peace and development.  The revolutions in the Arab world had shown how important it was to listen to young people.  Youth was at the heart of Gabon’s development, with an emphasis on the need for training in key sectors of the society, in order for the country to reach its goal of becoming an emerging economy by 2025.  For that purpose, investment had increased.  He hoped that the outcome document would help empower youth to work better for peace and development around the world.

ADOUM GAROUA, Minister for Youth of Cameroon, said youth accounted for some 60 per cent of his country’s population and, therefore, was an important part of employment and growth policy, and Cameroon’s plan to become an emerging economy by 2035.  The framework also responded to obstacles and scourges hampering the development of youth.  Building human capital through free public education, enhanced health care and increased employment for rural and urban youth had been critical.  Young people were a major asset in Cameroon, and responsible youth who cherished the notion of peace and understanding must be cultivated.

SHAW KGATHI, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture of Botswana, associating his country with the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said his country recognized youth as a major human resource, and youth issues occupied a central place in national development policies, with consensus on the need to develop and empower young people to realize the full extent of their potential.  Elaborating on the planning documents involved, he added, however, that due to global economic conditions, it was necessary to invest more heavily in such programmes, as well as in expertise to guide proper youth policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.  In conclusion, he lent support to the Secretary-General’s request to lead the development of indicators for youth development.

GLEN PHILLIP, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports, Information Technology, Telecommunications and Posts of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said that of his country’s population of 50,000, youth comprised a significant majority.  Saint Kitts and Nevis had made significant strides in education, from the implementation of universal education to that of early childhood education.  Under the current Prime Minister, a culture of student government had been implemented, in order to prepare young people for active participation in Government.  Among other innovations, the country was also developing an e-learning and communications network to digitally connect its high schools.

Nonetheless, he said, the country was facing the challenges of violence, drugs and crime among its youth, which had become targets of exploitation by “unscrupulous businessmen” in those markets.  In that regard, he appealed to the wider international community and to “leaders of conscience” to intervene, in particular through the provision of technical and financial resources for combating that three-pronged scourge.  Such assistance was crucial to the development of the nation and, by extension, to that of others.

PAUL OTUOMA, Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports of Kenya, said his country was working to meet “Vision 2030”, the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations Plan of Action for Youth Development, the Commonwealth Youth Programme and the African Youth Charter goals.  Kenyan youth faced many challenges, including limited opportunities for education and technical training, unemployment, high levels of poverty, lack of capital or access to credit, exposure to high levels of health and social risks and armed conflict.  Kenya had had put in place several measures to address those challenges, including the National Youth Council Act of 2009, a national youth volunteerism scheme, and entrepreneurial programmes that were carried out in conjunction with development partners. It had also built youth empowerment centres and embarked on a “jobs for youth” programme.

ZACHARIE KIMPOUNI, Minister of Physical Education and Youth of Congo, said his country’s participation in the meeting demonstrated the interest and involvement of Congo in all matters related to youth.  The country had an essentially young population, with youth accounting for some 60 per cent of all Congolese people.  Policies were aimed at empowering youth to act as the driving force in society, and to make decisions, as evidenced by the National Council for Young People in 2010.  To fight delinquency, civic education handbooks and programmes had been created for both the formal and informal education systems.  Those and other efforts were supported by United Nations system partners, especially the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

He said his country was sparing no efforts to help young people take control of their destiny.  Notwithstanding the efforts made at the international level, much remained to be done to address shortcomings.  The meeting was an excellent opportunity to identify, together, the common challenges facing young people.  Thanks to today’s information and communications technology, it was possible to build synergies and cooperation among young people worldwide.  “It is our destiny to ‘Deliver as One’, he said, calling for the Meeting to rise to the expectations of all parties.

AJAY MAKEN, Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports of India, said that during the last International Year of Youth in 1985, India had had as its youngest Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who had been instrumental in capitalizing on the international momentum for the development of youth and in setting up the Ministry for Human Resource Development for the holistic development of youth.  Under his leadership, India had reduced the voting age to 18, and more recently, the minimum age for elected representatives had been lowered to 21.  Meanwhile, migration possibilities added significantly to the ability of youth to truly reap the benefits of globalization; that interconnectedness was bringing about seminal changes in the attitudes and mind frames of youth, and to raising their awareness about global issues.  In that vein, dialogue and mutual understanding among the young people of the world’s nations was absolutely essential.  With nearly 70 per cent of India’s population of 1.2 billion under 35 years of age, the country had the largest youth population in the world; many programmes targeting the empowerment, education and employment of that population had been implemented.  India was also revising its national youth policy to reflect public feedback; the outcome of today’s High-Level Meeting would enhance such national initiatives.

ALIYASBEK ALYMKULOV, Minister of Youth of Kyrgyzstan, said youth policy in his country was integral to building democracy, as young people were the most progressive segment.  Describing activities in support of the International Year of Youth, he said the country was looking to increase opportunities for youth to participate in sustainable development.  International cooperation, with a view to increasing youth employment and overcoming obstacles to youth, was needed.  He called for a global increase in attention to youth affairs, and he sought progress in line with young people’s intelligence and spirituality.

ZEFERINO MARTINS, Minister of Education of Mozambique, said his Government attributed great importance to youth issues, prioritizing programmes and policies for young people’s empowerment, rights, inclusion, employment and general well-being.  Among the national machinery was the Intersectoral Committee for Adolescent and Youth Development, under the Ministers’ Council that dealt with evaluation and monitoring of youth programmes and policies.  As a result of dialogue with youth, the country was now revising policies.  That search for openness in the relationship between the Government and youth characterized the structuring of youth participation in the country.

FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ, Minister of Youth of the Dominican Republic, describing his county’s participation in the youth programmes of international organizations as well as the athletic feats of Dominican youth, said “let us show that we are aware of the titanic responsibility on our shoulders” of protecting and nurturing the youth of the world.  An organization focused solely on youth should be considered, possibly called “UN Youth”, he suggested.  He also called for the creation of a world scholarship fund and invited youth of the world to participate in “all that brings progress”.  His Ministry was committed to fostering a youth population that was “daring and that ensured that things happened”, because being silent was no longer an option.

IFEOMA UMOLU of the Youth and Gender Network of Nigeria, in a statement on behalf of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth Development, said her country had established the Federal Ministry of Youth Development in 2007.  That Ministry had created various structures and programmes for youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, including a Youth Parliament and a National Youth Council, which served as an interface between the Government and the youth organizations.  The possibility of establishing “youth desks” in all Government ministries was under consideration, and the establishment of a youth fund for development and entrepreneurship was under way.  Also ongoing were advocacy efforts to encourage youth participation at the grass-roots level in youth-oriented policy formulation and implementation.  Nigeria was a major contributor to the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, which was mandated to promote and popularize the implementation of the African Youth Charter. In demonstration of that support, Nigeria had hosted the launching and training of the first batch of Corps members at the Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort.  Nigeria also provided technical assistance to many African, Caribbean and Pacific States through its Technical Aid Corps.

OLIVIA GRANGE, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Jamaica, aligned her statement with those of the Group of 77 and China and CARICOM.  She urged the United Nations to redouble its collaboration with the Caribbean subregion, which she said looked forward to strengthening its cooperation with the United Nations Programme on Youth.  Jamaica supported the decision of the United Nations to establish a network on youth development and was committed to collaborating with it, as well as to sharing its experiences globally.  Approximately half of Jamaica’s population was under age 30, and the country, therefore, was deeply concerned about the impact of drugs, crime and violence on those young people.  It was committed to addressing that situation, but felt it was in fact a global challenge.  In that light, Jamaica urged Member States to work collaboratively to find long-term solutions to those scourges.  The country used its many cultural assets as the primary tools to propel its young people to social and economic prosperity and healthy adulthood.  Programmes, including a national youth census, a youth situation analysis and the development of a national youth entrepreneurship strategy, were all under way.  Another significant investment had been made with the Jamaica Youth Business Trust.

DJIGUIBA KEITA, Minister of Youth and Sports of Mali, listing off many figures who had fought for independence from colonialism in Africa, said most of them had been young.  Youth were often the locomotives of history and change.  Harmony and mutual understanding were the foundations of the ancient cultures that made up his country, and Government programmes aimed to reinforce those values.  Extensive youth programmes in the country had allowed it to build virtues consistent with those values.

CLEMENT KOFI HUMADO, Minister of Youth and Sports of Ghana, said his country had launched a national youth policy in 2010 that was made up of priority areas focused on employment, health, education and participation in national development.  Regional programmes were being instituted to give youth from Ghana opportunities for dialogue with other countries, and a national youth employment programme targeted some 400,000 beneficiaries.  His Ministry also cooperated with others in fighting obstacles facing youth.  Great challenges remained and more resources were being sought, but existing programmes had already borne fruit in increasing dialogue and fostering opportunity.

RADHOUAN NOUICER, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said last week’s tragic events in Norway were a reminder not to “let our world and youth be held hostage by those who occupy the extremes of the political spectrum”.  His own country had experienced a peaceful and spontaneous revolution, which had lacked both political ideology and external interference.  Instead, it had been carried out by members of the “dot-com generation”, representing all strata of society, whose slogans were deeply rooted in the values of peace and democracy.  “They all agreed that enough is enough, and that Tunisians deserved a better Government”, namely one that worked for the welfare of the people in an environment of transparency and accountability.  In the difficult days following the revolution, youth had been instrumental in protecting their families, neighbourhoods and communities; they had been active in providing care and helping their Libyan neighbours as they fled their besieged country for Tunisia.  “We are counting on our own strengths to fulfil the promises of the revolution,” he said, stressing that Tunisia’s strongest asset was the dynamism and engagement of its youth.

URGAMAL BYAMBASUREN, State Secretary of Mongolia, said his country was working to introduce modern technology in an effort to help its youth keep up with recent global changes.  Young people should be at the centre of sustainable development policy.  In Mongolia, however, youth were not benefiting enough from the country’s significant economic growth.  Growth had continued, but so had the country’s youth unemployment rate.  International and national migration had led to over-urbanization, and alcohol and drug abuse, environmental degradation and HIV/AIDS were also major concerns.  Disparities in education and living standards were widening.  It was critical to engage further in international cooperation, including by creating employment opportunities and improving the skills and capacities of young people as a central aspect of development policy.  Policies that supported migrants, especially young migrants, should be implemented.  Additionally, he called on international and financial institutions to depart from their traditional policies that were focused on economic gain, and instead to invest in young people, and he appealed the United Nations and its agencies to augment their support of youth at the international level.

ZHOU CHANGKUI (China) said his country had long been formulating and implementing youth policies from a long-term and strategic perspective, including by improving youth-related laws and relevant coordination mechanisms, fostering youth talents and supporting relevant organizations. The aim was to create an environment more conducive to youth development.  Those efforts had greatly improved the situation for youth.  Among the initiatives was the All-China Youth Federation, which was responsible for coordinating and maintaining youth affairs.  In the last 10 years, it had been guided by the four basic functions of organizing youth, guiding youth, serving youth and protecting their legal rights.  It had organized an International Peace Day celebration on the theme of Chinese youth and peaceful development, a Shanghai World Expo Youth Summit 2010, a 2011 European Union-China Year of Youth and other related events.  The International Year of Youth was another milestone in United Nations youth affairs.  He urged States to support the United Nations to play an important role in promoting youth development, youth participation and common development, and encourage young people to create a harmonious world through cultural dialogue.

Next, a youth delegate from Germany highlighted the critical issues of full and effective youth participation and youth migration, as they related to the international agenda.  She regretted that the International Year of Youth had not been used to its full potential, and she asked whether young people had really been involved in its negotiation.  Politicians should go beyond dialogue, moving towards involving youth in the “entire decision-making process”, beginning with the conception of programmes and ending with their analysis and evaluation.  Measurable indicators were still lacking in the World Programme of Action for Youth.  It was essential to note that participation started in schools by nominating young leaders; Germany supported such initiatives, and she urged all States to do so.  “The biggest resource we have in this world is the developing skills of youth,” she stressed.  However, challenges remained, and States still needed to integrate the issue of migration and youth, with all of its subtleties, into the negotiation processes of the United Nations.

A youth representative from Sweden, speaking through a sign-language interpreter, said that dialogue and mutual understanding must defeat ignorance and brutality.  At the same time, just talking was not enough.  Concrete action was needed in order for progress to be made.  It was up to world leaders to prove that their work was not just talk; she urged them to actively support the World Programme of Action for Youth, whose effectiveness should be assessed in due time.  Until then, its implementation, alongside achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, must remain a priority for all Member States.  Human rights, including the basic right to participation, must serve as a basis for youth policy.  As a young person with a disability, she knew that that need was particularly acute.  Youth-led organizations must be strengthened, and their influence must not stop at national borders.  It was regrettable that, as youth participation was discussed, there were so few young people at the meeting today.

DANIEL SUPPLICE, Special Representative of the President of Haiti, endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and CARICOM, said that an initiative to provide universal education in his country had been mobilizing national and international donors, thus providing hope for the future of youth.  He called for the scale-up of all programmes for the benefit of young people and mechanisms to ensure their implementation.  Effective social protection of youth was particularly important.

YABA PEDRO ALBERTO, Deputy Minister of Youth of Angola, said more than 40 per cent of its population was younger than 30 years old.  The Government had adopted a youth support plan for areas ranging from shelter to employment.  He proposed that the United Nations create new bodies dedicated to youth, along with mechanisms for monitoring progress in implementing programmes for action.  With everyone’s efforts, the goals set today could be achieved, he said.

SORIN MOLDOVAN, Undersecretary of State and Vice-President of the National Authority for Youth and Sports of Romania, said that this meeting should be a turning point for international action for youth in the globalized world of today.  The complicated mix of current crises must be faced, as young people were particularly vulnerable.  The links among nations were growing stronger and ever complex, and mobility and technology had allowed youth to develop better understanding of other cultures.  It offered them the opportunity for better training to adapt to the global labour market.  For those purposes, access to communications technology was important, cooperation with civil society was also needed, as well as coherent policies at the national, regional and international levels.

MITALI PROTAIS, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Rwanda, speaking on behalf of the African Group of States and aligning with the statement to be made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said new facilities of communication and technology had made the world smaller and widened opportunities.  However, not all the world’s young people benefited from those opportunities equally.  Heads of State had taken decisions to avail their people — including youth — with technology and communication, thereby reinforcing their youth populations with others around the world.  However, achieving that goal required stronger regional and international cooperation, and the deployment of regional points of communication, as well as improved connectivity of rural areas.  Leaders were also seeking to implement such concepts as universal education, the empowerment of young people to fight HIV/AIDS, the demobilization and rehabilitation of young former combatants, among other things.  Other challenges remained, including lack of employment and poor working conditions, which were taking a toll on health and livelihoods.  Efforts were needed at all levels to address those challenges.  The decisions made today should be put to action, thereby “opening a window of hope to innumerable young people”.

MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, said 70 per cent of her country’s population was under 29 years of age.  That was a great resource and opportunity.  She also underscored that most jobs in her country were held by young people, whose participation in various programmes had greatly reduced illiteracy, among other progress.  Youth were more empowered in Nicaragua today than in the past; they were no longer mere spectators, but had become active participants.  The National Plan for 2012-2016 would build on that progress, she said, calling in particular for quality work for youth.  Nicaraguan young people were already building their own future, at the forefront of such work as infrastructure development, reforestation, the promotion of cultural identity and natural resource conservation.  “Each year is a year for the youth,” she stressed.

NICOLE AMELINE, Deputy of the National Assembly of France, aligning her statement with that of the European Union, highlighted the work accomplished at the African-French Youth Summit of 2005, as well as other milestones.  France was one of the top donors of official development assistance (ODA) for education, backing both primary and higher education and hosting thousands of foreign students in its universities.  However, France felt that education must be directly linked with the needs of the professional world.  To that end, it was working to create training and professional support programmes for youth, as demonstrated by a micro-credit programme in Mali and a youth insertion mechanism in Côte d’Ivoire.  As Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, she noted that girls in the developing world faced extremely difficult challenges and that women who had benefited from education were five times more likely than illiterate women to have information on HIV/AIDS, among other crucial data.

A youth delegate from South Africa said young people should be in the forefront of realizing major societal challenges, such as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, many of which were directly related to their needs.  He described the South African youth agency’s efforts, as well as the importance of young people’s efforts in development.  He also recalled the importance of young people in the fight against apartheid.  He called for concrete action, supported by the necessary resources, to ensure the advancement of youth for the future of humankind.

VLADZIMIR SHCHASTNY, Chairman of the National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of Belarus, said that the importance of youth was recognized by his country through national programmes and cooperation with relevant United Nations bodies.  The development of the Interagency Network for Youth was significant, but there was also a need to create greater global coordination that included all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society.  Following the International Year, it would be time to update the World Programme of Action on Youth, which should include a global partnership, as per his country’s proposal.  That should be pursued in the upcoming General Assembly session.

RONAN FARROW, Special Adviser on Global Youth Issues to the Secretary of State of the United States, said the huge youth demographic could be a driver of development, but also of instability.  Capable youth were targeted by employers, but also by extremist groups.  “The ball is in our court,” he said, stressing that it was crucial to engage young people for positive purposes, which was a focus of United States cooperation.  A new department for global issues was being formed for that task by the United States, which would encourage constructive civil participation.  Initiatives were also preparing young people to lead.  The United States was creating follow-up activities to make sure all such initiatives, fostered during the International Year, continued.

MARIA LAURA BRAIZA, National Director for Youth of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the decision to hold the high-level meeting had emerged from an in initiative of the Group and from the active engagement of all Member States, and it offered an opportunity for States to take concrete action in support of youth.  Actions were needed to support young people in developing their potential and to tackle the obstacles they faced.  The primary responsibility for ensuring youth development lay with States, which should develop comprehensive policies and action plans for that purpose.  The Group of 77 encouraged the international community to support Member States, through enhanced international cooperation and the fulfilment of all ODA commitments, in their efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve full employment and social integration.

She reaffirmed the importance of the World Programme of Action for Youth as the framework for youth policies.  At the same time, she recognized the urgency of further developing the strategy in order to fully address all current challenges.  She acknowledged that problems facing today’s youth must be dealt with in a broader context of coordinated actions based on a holistic approach that tackled problems across a vast array of multidimensional aspects.  Youth unemployment required new ideas and renewed efforts from Member States and the international community.  In that regard, the Group of 77 urged all Member States to consider the development of a global strategy to effectively address that issue.

All citizens, including youth, should enjoy the highest attainable standards of health, and she pledged that the Group of 77 would undertake efforts to realize that objective.  The Group also recognized the importance of protecting youth from violence and crime, including drug related activity.  Similarly, the Group condemned the recruitment and use of youth in armed conflict in contravention of applicable international law; it deplored the negative consequences that had on youth and called on Member States, in cooperation with United Nations entities, to take concrete measures to support programmes to ensure effective social and economic integration and rehabilitation of demobilized young people.

BERHANE GEBRE-CHRISTOS, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, pointing out that Africa, the most underdeveloped continent in the world, was the home of the second largest population of youth in the world after Asia, said the continent’s young people had limited access to decent jobs and sustainable income.  Indeed, Africa had shown promising progress in economic growth over the last decade, but apart from the negative impact on that progress of the global economic downturn over the last two years, that growth had failed to be inclusive.  That had prevented the progress from contributing sufficiently to raising the hopes of Africa’s youth.

Ensuring the economic well-being of youth and their social integration would not be enough to fully address their needs, he observed, explaining that their active participation in vital political reform and democratization processes was also critical.  The young needed to be given “political space” to pursue their political views and specific interests.  Moreover, it was important to underline that actions taken at the national level alone would not yield the desired results unless those measures were supplemented by adequate international assistance.  In that regard, he believed that what was needed were not new strategies, but rather the necessary political commitment to deliver on past promises.

FANNY HERMENIER, President of the Education Committee of Monaco, said the adoption of the outcome document had been a “decisive step” in the better understanding of the role that each Member State must take in support of youth.  It was young people who had paved the way for new regimes throughout history, she said, recalling that the recent “Arab Spring” marked the staunch will of young people to seek peace and freedom.  Youth also played an active role within the United Nations system, including in advancing towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Monaco had undertaken efforts to afford access to education for all; it was working to allow young people in developing countries to undergo training in Monaco.  Health and other basic human rights were still concerns that needed to be addressed.  Her country, therefore, had made health a top priority.  The rights of children and young people, who were most vulnerable, “must not be abridged”.  In November, Monaco would hold a conference to define a new European strategy for the rights of the child.  Young people were well aware of the challenges they faced, and of the urgent need to address them.

PIERRE MAUDET, President of the Federal Commission on Youth of Switzerland, said his country had been participating in youth programmes nationally and within the United Nations system.  Sustainable development depended on quality education and training; dignified and well-paid employment led to higher production and the ability to create and support families.  Switzerland had taken measures, such as enabling the provision of training for the unemployed and harnessing the use of information and communications technology for youth participation in forging an open society, and allowing young people to be at the centre of change and progress.  In moments of crisis, youth were most vulnerable.  They could not be put in the margins.

SEVERINE MACEDO, National Secretary for Youth Affairs of Brazil, said recognition of the diversity of youth was critical.  They came from the cities and the countryside, they were men and women, gay and heterosexual, with and without disabilities, from different classes with different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences.  Young people promoted citizenship within national borders, and sought to live in peace and develop countries democratically.  In Brazil, the young demographic could increase per capita income, augment investment, bolster the social protection network, expand production and protect basic rights.  The country’s focus now was poverty eradication.  To achieve that goal, investing in youth was fundamental.  Young people also deserved a greater presence on the international agenda, both in terms of specific policy issues and cross-inclusion in other areas.  Brazil sought to make its contribution in the area of South-South cooperation projects relevant to youth.

LILI FOUAD ATTALLAH (Egypt) said the Egyptian revolution of 25 January, which had been launched entirely by young men and women, had become one of the first successful and influential spontaneous peaceful revolutions in history to instigate real political change and inspire others.  Moreover, it had demonstrated that youth were the main tool for a better future and for a new Egypt.

In that context, she said, it was crucial to address the essential pillars needed to vitalize the empowerment and active participation of youth in all aspects of national life, and to promote values of democracy, social justice, gender equality and social responsibility through a comprehensive development strategy that was based on several factors.  Those included the strengthening of political participation of youth in decision-making; combating corruption; eradicating poverty; providing equal opportunities; and intensifying youth participation in national efforts to increase decent employment opportunities for them, among others.  She reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to address the challenges and achieve national goals and objectives to ensure a decent life for young Egyptians, as well as a better future for young people worldwide.

MIGUEL ANGEL CARREON SANCHEZ, Director of the National Institute of Youth of Mexico, citing figures on the scourges that plagued youth in his country, said it was critical to address such problems.  It was also important to take advantage of the fact that the working-age population was larger than dependent-age populations, which he called a “demographic bonus” that could hasten development.  Describing the initiatives promoted by his Institute, he said it was necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals that related to youth.  The United Nation system must be enhanced in its capabilities towards that end.  “The world will be what its youth will be,” he said.

SOFIA PAIN, Chief of Intergovernmental Relations and the Promotion of International Activity at the Ministry of Youth of Italy, said her country attached great importance to the development of the personal, professional and social skills of the next generation.  Poverty and social exclusion were serious barriers to those developments.  Describing the coordination of varied sectors in her country to overcome those obstacles, she said her Government offered young people crucial knowledge about participation in civic duties and political life.  Informal learning opportunities were important, including for dialogue.

BIANCA PAULA HERNANDEZ, Director of the National Council of Youth of Guatemala, said the segment of population between 15 and 24 years of age was growing in her country and that the economy simply did not create enough jobs.  Educational opportunities had been increased, but not all young people stayed in the system.  Job opportunities, therefore, must be increased for those who left school.  Government initiatives were founded on solidarity, offering alternative opportunities based on non-formal education, under the major goal of building a multicultural society with equitable development, in which young people were recognized as actors with full rights.

JAN VANHEE, Director of the Centre of Support for Youth Politics of Belgium, aligning his statement with that of the European Union, said mechanisms needed to be set up at all levels — even at the international level — to strengthen youth participation as much as possible, especially in the areas that affected them most.  “It’s time to act, even in these difficult days,” he said, adding that the international community had a long way to go towards improving youth participation and development.  The Youth Department in the Council of Europe, for example, provided a good example through its “structured dialogue” with young people.  Nonetheless, recognition of youth organizations and the non-formal education sector, among other bodies, still needed improvement.  Youth were a vital part of society.  In turn, young people were shaped by many factors and influences.  More attention should be paid to those in situations of poverty and at risk of social exclusion, he stressed, adding that more efforts were needed to build a true youth coalition at all levels of society all over the world.

BENSON SAULO, Youth Ambassador of Australia to the United Nations, the first Aboriginal Australian to be appointed to that position since its inception in 1999, said he was proud that Australian youth and the Australian Government shared a common vision, reflected in the commitments outlined in the National Strategy for Young Australians.  That scheme stated that all young people were to grow up safe, healthy and resilient, and have the opportunities and skills they needed to learn, work and engage in community life, and to influence decisions that affected them.  It identified eight priorities, including health, education and empowerment to enable young people to have a voice and be active in their communities.

He pointed out that, beyond its shores, Australia was focused on supporting education programmes throughout Asia, the Pacific and the world.  In Indonesia, Australia was helping to build over 4,000 schools, thus enabling 650,000 children from the poorest families to receive a decent education.  In Pakistan, the country was supporting the enrolment of some 46,000 girls in rural primary schools, while the empowerment of young girls in Lao People’s Democratic Republic through education was being realized with the increase of primary education completion rates from 60 per cent in 2005 to 72 per cent in 2008, and a ratio of 84 girls enrolled for every 100 boys.  While he recognized the many obstacles facing young people today, he believed the sense of optimism in the future was evident and that through open and frank dialogue, that optimism could be turned into reality.

LEE BOC SIL, Assistant Minister, Youth and Family Planning Policy Office of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of the Republic of Korea, said that, through the high-level meeting, political leadership should be strengthened to take further steps to ensure the implementation of international strategies for youth.  The Republic of Korea continued to dispatch young representatives to the General Assembly and other United Nations system entities in order to facilitate communication with, and participation of, youth in international issues.  The Republic of Korea’s national plan on youth, which was updated every five years under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, encompassed various key areas, such as employment and welfare.  It sought to protect youth from violent crime and to fight the “alarming” rise of Internet addiction among youth, as well as other goals and targets.  The country also contributed to attaining international goals related to youth, including the Millennium Development Goals.

IGNACIO NAUDON, Director of the National Institute of Youth of Chile, said young people were beset by so many problems and not engaged in decision-making in public policies because they were viewed as recipients rather than participants.  As such, their real needs were not well reflected in public policies.  Indeed, youth participation must be incorporated into all levels of public policy.  There should not be youth parliaments — on the contrary, youth should participate in “real” parliaments.

MATÍAS RODRIGUEZ, Director of the National Institute of Youth in the Ministry of Social Development of Uruguay, said youth unemployment was three times the rate of general unemployment in his country, although new policies had recently been able to turn that trend around.  An increased educational budget, plus reform in the areas of health and taxation, with a cross-cutting concern for youth in all development efforts had helped redress the situation.  Campaigns to treat disadvantaged youth as dangerous were counterproductive; public youth policies had no room for fear and lack of trust, rather partnerships with youth should be formed.

MIGUEL ANGEL PEREIRA, Executive Director of the National Council of Youth of El Salvador, expressed hope that the youth representatives would go back to their countries with a strong message of the critical importance of social insertion for youth.  In El Salvador, youth policy was built on support from youth organizations, as the greatest wealth that the country had was young people.  The country was working hard to implement intelligent policies that incorporated their engagement.  The best way to back the advancement of youth was education, and scholarships for the poorest were needed for that purpose.  His country would continue to focus its development efforts on young people.

AMOS ISSAC, Under-Secretary-General at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture of Niger, said his country’s youth was a fundamental asset; they were not at the heart of its problems, but at the heart of their solutions.  In 2006, the Government had created the National Council for Youth; the implementation of decentralization and the transfer of administrative competencies to local focal points was part of that policy.  Youth issues had also been integrated into policy at the national level.  Young people were protected by the State, and all public entities could be held responsible for their well-being, as well as for their professional insertion.  Specific actions were being taken to those ends, such as the implementation of management bodies for national policies, the building of the capacity of youth organizations, the promotion of youth in employment — including by aiming to create 50,000 jobs by 2015 — and the strengthening of mechanisms for youth entrepreneurship.

RICARDO IBARRA, Adviser at the National Youth Institute of Spain, said the challenges facing youth today were greater than ever.  Poverty rates among youth were high and had worsened due to the global economic crisis.  To transform that situation, both Governments and civil society must reaffirm their commitment to “positive policies” for youth.  Betting on youth was a double investment, as it bolstered both the present and the future.  He stressed the need to support the development of youth groups through training that could lead to youth participation, and to augment education both in the formal and informal settings.  Additionally, support for young people from the time of early childhood would enable them to have opinions and to act on them.  Governments must continue to strengthen civil society.  As women were essential actors and often the most affected by challenges, support to young women in realizing their rights was also critical, especially in cases where policies involving them were not implemented.

TEDDY MUL0NGA, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development of Zambia, said his country’s youth experienced many challenges in accessing financial support from lending institutions.  In light of that challenge, the Zambian Government had committed itself to promote enterprise development for wealth and employment creation for and among youth.  To that end, it had established a youth development fund that targeted young men and women, young persons with disabilities and those affected by HIV and AIDS.  The fund provided moderate terms and conditions at moderate interest rates and, thus, was a less onerous financial burden for young entrepreneurs.  That had assisted many to start and grow their own businesses.

Further, he noted, the Government had recognized the important need to establish programmes for out-of-school youth, and had accordingly embarked on a vigorous programme of youth skills formation and development, in order to provide life and vocational skills for improved livelihoods.  To that effect, the Zambian Government was constructing trades training institutes and youth skills resource centres in all nine provinces of the country, and was further encouraging the private sector to supplement those efforts by seizing the opportunities that sector provided.  Zambia believed that Governments could no longer afford to devise development agendas that addressed youth concerns without their participation in the planning and implementation process.

HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), aligning his statement with that of the Group of 77 and China, said that nearly half of the world’s population was now under 35.  He reminded the Assembly that those young people faced obstacles including poverty, armed conflict and foreign occupation, among others.  As enhanced cooperation was necessary to confront those challenges, the Meeting was both crucial and timely.  Indonesia’s own youth had saved its national identity during its journey to democracy.  Youth employment and entrepreneurship would help to end poverty.  Global actions to fight youth unemployment, therefore, were critical and the role of education was central.  Indonesia had hosted several national and regional conferences on youth in efforts to promote understanding and dialogue.  He reminded delegates that while the primary responsibility for ensuring youth development lay with individual States, their success also depended on international cooperation.

PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said it was important at the Meeting to reaffirm commitments to advance young people, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized.  The Union’s youth policy was firmly based in human rights and consistent with the Programme of Action for the United Nations International Year for Youth.  Programmes included “Youth in Action”, which promoted good citizenship, and others, which encouraged global participation and promoted the inclusion of young women and girls in development activity.  It was critical not only to include the voices of youth in policy formation, but to include youth in the implementation of policies.  For that reason, he suggested that delegations include youth representatives more consistently.

KAZUO KODAMA (Japan) said youth were critical to rebuilding after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that had hit his country, and they were crucial for building a better future.  Describing international exchange programmes sponsored by his country, he said volunteer opportunities had also been created nationally.  His country, believing it was essential to deal with youth unemployment, prioritized decent employment in its development cooperation programmes.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria), declaring that there was “nothing about youth without youth”, reiterated the Meeting’s outcome document’s stated position that full and effective participation of young people was key to everything that was hoped to be achieved for them.  With the help of modern communication technologies, the exchange of views and ideas among young people was taking place at an unprecedented scale across former borders and barriers.  At the same time, dialogue between youth and decision-makers, as well as youth participation in decision-making processes at the national, regional and international levels, needed to be enhanced.

He said the active participation of so many youth representatives in the Meeting provided an exceptional opportunity to listen to their voices, consider their opinions and take their advice.  However, any meaningful dialogue or policy to improve their situation demanded full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, for which Governments bore the primary responsibility.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.