Present during this dialogue regarding International Development and Migration was Saket Mani, a 19 year old youth representative to UN & youth policy analyst living in India, who is passionate about youth issues, public affairs and climate change. Due to his extensive work in New York and around the world, he was invited to represent global 'Children & Youth' at this meeting.
The following are excerpts from the detailed report written by Mani:
For only the second time in history, the UN General Assembly brought civil society leaders and networks from around the world to New York on 15 July to present their experience and recommendations to governments in Interactive Hearings regarding international migration and development.
“We come together to be engaged in transformative dialogue”, said William Gois of Migrant Forum Asia representing a broad global coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations in the opening session. “We come with an eight-point agenda that we want to work on with you, governments, over five-years to bring about real change, substantive change, to demonstrate our commitment to bring an end to the ‘globalization of indifference.”
The driving force—and achievement—of these meetings? “Unprecedented convergence around these issues in global civil society”, as Mr. Bingham noted during the preparatory meetings on 13 July. “Convergence not meaning perfect consensus, but clear common ground and imperatives amongst the diversity of voices in civil society around the world.”
The world gets smarter when people move
Throughout the day, speakers echoed the issues put forward in the 5-year agenda and made practical suggestions on issues such as how to include migration and migrants in the new global development agenda, after the Millennium Development Goals expire, how to better regulate the recruitment industry, and how put an end to the criminalization of migrants.
One speaker reminded the audience that “24 years ago the whole world celebrated the falling of walls. Today, unfortunately, walls are coming back up. We see the criminalization of migrants and militarization at borders”. Many speakers called for stronger more robust collaboration and new partnerships, between civil society, businesses and governments, at local, national and regional levels. “Implementation of migrant rights will happen at the workplace, by companies on the shop floor, the store front, the production line”, Isabel de Sola, speaking on behalf of the World Economic Forum (WEF) said. “[We] could collaborate much more closely to build capacity and awareness on strengthening the implementation of migrant’s rights at these levels.”
Above all, Mr. Saket Mani, children & youth representative of UN urged UN Member States to recognize — and better respond to — migration as a benefit, not a threat, especially when it is squarely centered on universal rights, and is a choice, not a necessity. “When you stop people from moving you stop ideas from moving,” noted Ms. Ola Orekunrin, a migrant entrepreneur who founded Flying Doctors-Nigeria, and one of the youth voices remarked during the Hearings, “the world gets smarter when people move!”
To read more about this young man's exemplary work take a look at the following links:
In the summer of last year, TakingITGlobal and the Global Youth Action Network formally merged their efforts and integrated their operations to achieve a world in which young people everywhere are engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world. Much of these changes have not been visible to our members and partners till our first joint fundraising event on June 12th.
The event was organized by a host committee, led by TIG Advisor and former GYAN staff member Luis Davila. The Turkish Consulate in New York graciously provided us with a room in their building just across the street from the United Nations Headquarters, and a number of volunteers donated food and drinks, and helped us run the event throughout the evening. The event was a great success: more than 100 guests - most of them students or young professionals - came to celebrate with us and support the work that we do. Among the guests were GYAN Founder and President Benjamin Quinto, TIG Executive Director Jennifer Corriero, and many GYAN and TIG alumni, Board members, friends and partners.
A special thanks to Luis Davila and the entire host committee:
Thanks also to our volunteers and those that contributed in another form to the event:
Turkish Consulate, New York City
Vivianna Guzman and the American Management Association
Hamish Wood and Translate Media
Below are some pictures from the evening and a video of Benjamin's speech:
Benjamin Quinto, Founder and President of GYAN
Luis Davila, TIG Advisor and host of the event
Jennifer Corriero, Executive Director of TakingITGlobal & Franziska Seel, Executive Director of the Global Youth Action Network
Jennifer and Franziska with GYAN Board member, Vivianna Guzman
Benjamin Quinto, GYAN Founder & President speaks at the event
The Global Youth Action Network is currently looking for a new generation of young, passionate, and committed volunteers to join the GYAN team and help us take this network to the next level.
In a recent speech, Van Jones (President Obama’s new Special Advisor on Green Jobs) told a room full of over 10,000 students, "Your generation was born to change the whole system." We agree with him. As our generation faces an unprecedented convergence of challenges - fixing the economic crisis, stopping climate change, eradicating poverty, creating sustainable development, and many more – we recognize that we must come together to find the solutions that are being called for. GYAN believes that if we unite together as a generation we can create the change we want to see in this world.
To achieve this ambitious goal, we are currently seeking volunteers to fill the following roles and responsibilities: Member Engagement Coordinator, Network Outreach Coordinator, UN Liaison, Newsletter Editor, Blog Manager, New Media Coordinator.
More information about the volunteer positions can be found following these links:
Here are finally a few pictures from GYAN's Inauguration Party on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. I would like to thank again: Jonah Wittkamper who organized the event, Distribute Networks for hosting us at their beautiful offices, all the volunteers who helped in some way make this event a success and last but not least everyone who came out to celebrate with us and support the work that we do!
The Obama campaign demonstrated the power of young people - not only to transform American politics, but to create change in their communities no matter where they live. GYAN has long believed that solving the critical issues our planet faces is only possible if young people are involved in designing and implementing the solutions that will guarantee a future of peace, justice and sustainability.
To that end, we have submitted the following memo to President Elect Barack Obama, asking him to create a Presidential Commission on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships:
Memo submitted to President Elect Obama on Thursday, January 8th, 2009
Presented by Jonah Wittkamper & Franziska Seel on behalf of the Global Youth Action Network
Forming a Presidential Commission on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships
Dear President Elect Obama,
In 1960, during his presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy asked Eleanor Roosevelt for her political support. She agreed, but not without his promise to create a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. The commission was created the next year and had an historic impact on the lives of women, nationally and globally.
In 2007, as you prepared for your own White House run, you asked young people for their political support. You got it, but in exchange for what? Many young people supported you because they believed in your message of hope and promise for social and political transformation.
I’m sure you will agree that when young people are empowered with new technology and a new political vision they can revolutionize politics. They did so in 2008 by helping you raise more money and mobilize more people than any campaign in history. We believe that young people, when given the opportunity, can improve the social fabric of this country and transform what it means to be a citizen of the United States and of the world.
We want to create the space for this opportunity and believe that bringing the agenda of youth to the world stage will make that possible.
There are many ideas for youth engagement, but a Presidential Commission holds special promise with its ability to recognize and raise the profile of key issues and their solutions. Moreover, Presidential Commissions can be created with relatively few financial or political obstacles, making it an ideal platform to spearhead the vision presented here.
We call for the creation of ...
A Presidential Commission on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships to serve as a temporary platform, under the direct supervision of the White House, to review issues, consider solutions and make policy recommendations. In contrast to previous Commissions this one should rely on the Internet and forms of widespread participation that were part of your campaign. Specifically the Commission should advance the following goals:
1. Youth-led development: Investigate, promote, and augment the contributions of young people to society through existing social programs.
Some suggested themes:
-youth health & employment
-environment & climate change
-internship & apprenticing programs
-young social movements
-transformational & holistic youth development
-formal & non-formal education and more...
2. Youth participation in decision-making: Study and foster the participation of young people in decision-making process, such as non-profit boards, local and national youth councils, inter-governmental delegations, electoral politics and more.
Some suggested themes:
-local and national youth councils and youth representation in decision-making processes
-young voters & politicians
-inter-governmental policy processes
-technology as an enabler of participatory democracy and more…
3. Intergenerational partnerships: Examine and promote the mobilization of social, intellectual, and economic wealth of older generations. Recognize the value of young people and encourage partnerships with elder generations.
Some suggested themes:
-intergenerational funding opportunities
-intergenerational wealth transfer and more...
4. Marketplaces and networks: Create a permanent marketplace for investors and innovators to come together to dialogue, network, collaborate and share best practices on issues of youth and intergenerational partnerships.
Some suggested themes:
-dialogues around key issues
-access to information & opportunities and more...
5. Execution and implementation strategy: Engage government agencies in the activities of the Commission, evaluate potential impacts, and implement relevant recommendations in the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government at all levels - locally, nationally, and globally.
Some suggested themes:
-evaluating youth participation: developing a youth participation index
-government committees on youth
-funding youth programs
-implementing a national youth policy
-establishing a national youth council and more...
President Kennedy said, "The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.” This commission would be a landmark in the history of this country, improving the lives of young people and ultimately everyone.
The unprecedented nature of your election has created a wave of hope, globally. It is important to seize this "opportunity capital" and encourage the rest of the world to consider and apply some of the lessons learned from your campaign. Of particular significance are the concepts of 1) putting an end to the practice of negative campaigning, 2) using new technologies as a platform to shift power from special interests to average citizens, and 3) embracing and empowering youth.
The symbolic nature of a Presidential Commission on Youth and Intergenerational Partnerships holds special promise to extend the impact of your election to people globally, especially young people. It should not be missed. The global origins of your upbringing make new expressions of diplomatic power possible, opening an opportunity to convene non-traditional allies to solve intractable problems, such as addressing root causes of terrorism through inter-religious youth exchange. Finally, the goals outlined for the commission above should be upheld in the international sphere as much as they are at home. Innovation of policy at the national level should be accompanied by parallel innovations in foreign policy.
We deliver these recommendations to you, but we understand that the ultimate responsibility of social and political transformation will fall in our hands. We believe that a Presidential Commission, on the world stage, is the best vehicle to inspire the global community into these new directions. As you have said before, you and your office are merely a receptacle for the latent will of humanity to come forward and play its hand in designing its future. Please consider our proposal and open channels to put that future in our hands.
Jonah Wittkamper was a co-founder of the Global Youth Action Network (www.youthlink.org), is currently part of the team that built the technology behind Obama’s text messaging campaign, and is a proponent of young philanthropy.
Franziska Seel has been a youth activist since the age of 12. Now, at the age of 27, she is Executive Director of the Global Youth Action Network and Associate Director of TakingITGlobal (www.takingitglobal.org).