Youth At the United Nations
The United Nations Headquarters in New York is a place of continuous activity and debate. Although a lot of the attention of the international community focuses on the annual commissions and other high-profile meetings, there are briefings, debates and events every day that contribute to the development debate and help determine the way forward for the UN.

The staff and interns at the Global Youth Action Network regularly attend these events to keep up to date on what's going on and to encourage more youth participation. This blog will be updated frequently, so check back often.

Do you enjoy writing? Do you keep up to date about the critical issues affecting youth around the world? If so, consider applying to become a volunteer blogger for GYAN. Click here for more information and for application guidelines.

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are the contributors' opinions and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Youth Action Network.

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Liamjod   Liamjod Liamjod's TIGblog
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Malala Day at the UN

On July 12, 2013, youth took over the United Nations. Hundreds came to hear Malala Yousafzai -- the Pakistani girl who was shot on a school bus last year by the Taliban for standing up for her and other girls' right to receive an education. After recovering, she is now speaking louder than ever.

Now known as Malala Day (#MalalaDay), the Special UN Youth Assembly was full of energy and the smell of teenage sweat as I sat alongside other young people from over 80 countries on the first floor of a room normally occupied by diplomats, ambassadors and global leaders. Our goal was to support Malala in delivering a resolution to the UN Secretary-General, and subsequently, the UN Security Council, to demand compulsory education for the 57 million children out of school.

Titled The Education We Want, this was an entirely youth-authored resolution, and a monumental declaration. The feeling in that chamber was exhilarating, and the other youth delegates and I knew we were part of something important, something historic and something that had the potential to change the future for our generation and generations to come.


Reminiscent of Severn Suzuki who shook the world in 1992 at the UN Earth Summit, Malala was a remarkable sight, resolute and calm with her small frame and simple pink dress, pants, and shawl. She appeared almost unfazed at the attention as she stood next to some of the most prominent and powerful men in the world.

As a young Canadian, I admire her. Only 19 years old myself, I’ve been lucky to have seen some amazing and eloquent speakers in the past, including both Bill and Hilary Clinton and the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. Nonetheless, speaking just after the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, Malala resolutely took the stand. Not a single of those mentioned could even touch the inspiration coming from this girl from Pakistan. Her words were powerful, clear, and simple: “Education is the only solution. Education First.”

Malala spoke of peace, brotherhood, tolerance, freedom of religion, race, and education for all, but she also forced us to look inward to the collective shortcomings we face. A blazing example lies in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Currently, the MDGs on educating the world’s children sit at 95 per cent complete, and are largely celebrated as a success – but where do the 57 million young boys and girls still without basic education fit into that goal?

Malala firmly stated that this was not her day, but a day for all the world’s girls and boys. She’s right. And moreover, it is not only her voice that matters. And that’s what makes Malala Day so important. There are millions of children around the world who are just like her, children who face insurmountable obstacles when trying to access basic education. It was these words that truly marked how historic Malala’s call-to-action was. Though UN declarations are not always kept, perhaps it will be her voice, and the voices of the world’s youth that will carry this resolution through.

Throughout the day, I interviewed other young people on their perceptions of Malala Day. They commonly stated that it “signals the transition from a time when young people have been ignored, to a point where young people can change the world.”

Salathiel, a young man from Burundi (who helped organize the day) spoke to the importance of including young people in policy and decision-making processes. He believes that youth can be shapers of the globe, and can make invaluable contributions to policies and agendas.

Thoughts about Malala and the other forgotten children that she represents also made me think of our children at home in Canada. I think, as a ’developed country,’ we sometimes see ourselves above the calls for universal education worldwide. Yet, these calls apply to us as well, and how we support youth in poverty, most particularly in our Aboriginal communities.

Access to education is a problem that affects today and generations to come; we need to call on our leaders to take action, or Malala Day will just be another day of the week. If we don’t join her, that small girl in pink who inspired us, no matter how loud her voice, will disappear behind another wall of tall men, bureaucracy, and words without meaning or resolve.

Jaxson Khan is the Executive Director of Student Voice Initiative and the former CEO of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association. He was one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20.


July 30, 2013 | 12:20 PM Comments  {num} comments


marioliva   marioliva marioliva's TIGblog
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Group session with Latin America NGOs with ECLAC in the way COP16

From October 29to30th, the session hosted by ECLAC and the Mexican government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with some of the most important Latin American organizations with previous work on Climate Change.

The main objective of the session was to know the concerns of the south NGOs about the general dialogue lines to be presented in the next COP16 and how the Secretariat and the Mexican government can deal or involve it in the official processes.

In the first session only we, the Latin NGOs, talk about the risks about the main climate regional issues related with local necessities; the vulnerable groups, REDD+ and the AOSIS proposal about the “1.5 review”.

About the vulnerable groups, the GYAN contribution was to include youth as special agents of rights in the same floor with the native people and the women.

With REDD+ our proposal was the review of the positive incentives, the monitoring process. The discussion about themes like historic debt or national indicators was not easy deal but the themes are still on table.

Finally, the positions about AOSIS were divided. For some, the “1.5 review” is the proposal that the Latin NGOs should support but for others, the Cochabamba proposal to demand the “1 grade” is the most appropriated.

The second day session was a Plenary with the ECLAC ministry Alicia Bárcenas, the ministry of Foreign Affairs from Mexico Patricia Espinosa and the UNFCCC Secretariat Horacio Peluffo and all the NGOs invited.

The discussion was related to the NGOs declaration, the presentation of the UNFCCC president and some logistic and thematic questions about COP16.

The conclusion was to involve the most vulnerable sectors in the Climate Change consequences (native people, youth and women), to review the monitoring process of REDD+ and to articulate the Cochabamba and the AOSIS proposal and to include an entire process with the participation with NGOs for the next COP17 in South Africa.

Written by: Mariana González

November 4, 2010 | 7:31 PM Comments  {num} comments


andreaprince   andreaprince Andrea Prince's TIGblog
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End of the Commission for Social Development

As the Commission for Social Development has come to a close, I wanted to post an update on the progress of youth in the decision of social inclusion. On the agenda of this year’s meeting was a whole item dedicated to the World Programme of Action for Youth. European youth delegates have been very active in the commission by making statements and there is also a resolution regarding youth specifically. The two topics brought up most often were climate change and employment for young people. The need for youth to be employed is one area both our members and Member States at the commission can agree upon. At a morning briefing with the Chairperson of the Commission, Finnish Ambassador Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, she highlighted that next year (the policy year where resolutions will be made) youth employment will, in fact, be a major concern.

These are great steps to have taken, but as always, I have to temper the successes with saying that it cannot end now. Governments need to be followed up with on the statements they have made and commitments to youth they have promised. I also believe that there needs to be more youth participation in social development. I suggest more organized groups of young people from developing countries, where the majority of young people live, must be included in discussions. However, I do not have solutions to how to actually make this happen. We need to think and act together.

All I can do is leave you with some questions for thought:

What would these groups look like?
How feasible is it for young people to be physically present to conferences?
What other alternatives could be thought of to insure ALL young people have their voices heard?

February 16, 2009 | 10:02 PM Comments  {num} comments


andreaprince   andreaprince Andrea Prince's TIGblog
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Social Inclusion?

The Commission for Social Development is a more than half way through. I just wanted to provide a summary of what has been happening through out the week. Let me try to set the scene for you...

Location: UN conference room
I am not sure how many people have seen movies such as "The Interpreter", but they give a fairly accurate depiction of what the inside of a UN conference room looks like. Although, I think what happens inside is a little less exciting than the movie.

Mood: Bureaucratically stifled
Some delegates look bored. Others appear to be making plans for the weekend. Either way, delegates are saying what has been pre-approved by their governments with no diversion.

Time: Somewhere between 10AM and 12:30PM

I have been sitting and listening to delegate after delegate (country after country) present their statements. Generally, they all begin with “Congratulations Madam Chairperson and the honorable Bureau for your election into the position…” and to summarize the rest would basically sound something like “we fully support social inclusion and are doing are promoting it in all our practices”. I know, it is a glib observation and not fully accurate. There are different issues that some countries focus on more, and countries are saying important things. Take a look at the statements submitted on the CSocD website to check them all out.

But all this congratulating and speaking about how much countries are already promoting inclusion gets a little old, and frankly, more than a little untruthful. That is why it was so refreshing to hear Cuba give her stance and liven up the conference a little. Cuba asked:

How can we build more just societies where all persons have equal opportunities, including economic opportunities, and where inequality and exclusion are eradicated, while selfishness, injustice, hegemonic pretensions, inequity, wastefulness, and excessive consumerism of a few, that is, those who have more, continue to prevail and grow stronger at the international level?

“Right on Cuba!” was what I was thinking…until at the end they added in that “Cuba is proud to have a profoundly popular and participatory democracy, where the people has the power and all human rights, not a few, are promoted and protected”. Ehn, nice try…

The United States was no better, though. They basically dropped names like “Obama”, “Hillary”, and “Gore”. Did we forget about the last eight years’ administration? I feel it is so important for these talks to be honest. Why can’t countries talk and say, “Hey, I know we haven’t always been perfect in this area but what can we do to change that?” Not, “Listen to all the great things we have done”. That, in itself, is exclusionary. You are excluding and ignoring groups of people who have not felt the benefits of your programs and policies. Having these conversations are important, and countries have to be responsible to the statements they make. How and when can we young people hold those accountable and no longer let them get away with their sweeping statements?

February 10, 2009 | 11:02 PM Comments  {num} comments


andreaprince   andreaprince Andrea Prince's TIGblog
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Preparing for the Commission for Social Development

Greetings! This past week has been an exciting one here in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, with the inauguration of new president Barack Obama. Clearly, so many of us are hungry for change and belief that things can get better. I believe why so many of us in the United States believe that President Obama can help usher in these changes is because he brings people together, makes everyone feel included. This allows people to become inspired to act together. While this has been something highlighted by the US media lately, this is not a new phenomenon. People have been coming together to work on common issues for a long time. This past week I have been thinking a lot about how people can come together as I have been preparing for the upcoming Commission for Social Development meeting at the United Nations (UN).

For those of you who are not familiar Commission for Social Development, it is a conference held every year for two weeks at the UN. This year is the 47th meeting and will take place February 4-13. The commission has 43 member states (countries) involved and usually somewhere between 150-200 civil society organizations (groups of regular people like you and I). This year the topic will be “Social Integration” and discussing how nations can build socially inclusive “societies for all”. In non-UN language, this means countries will work to come up with written agreements to follow that allow everyone—regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, age, etc, etc.—to feel accepted and respected by their countries.

My work the past four months has been preparing a statement that puts together all the ideas and recommendations GYAN members contributed during our online consultation regarding social integration, or how we have been referring to it—social inclusion. I have enjoyed reading all the amazing points and views GYAN members take, and from that, being able to translate all those into one cohesive statement. Our statement is now posted on the Commission website as an official UN document in six different languages, along with other statements from more organizations all working towards the same goal of social inclusion. It is so exciting to know that youth voices—YOUR VOICES—are going to be heard by the member states in attendance!

Getting young people involved in the discussions is so important, but the work does not end here! The information has to be shared with our communities. More importantly, we must remind our governments of the promises they have made and demand that they abide by them. It is such a big job and cannot be done alone. If you are unfamiliar with the Commission for Social Development and the online consultation GYAN held, I invite you to take a look sites and see what young people are saying. GYAN members have shared their recommendations on how their governments can promote social inclusion, how do you think your government can do this? Or even, what is social inclusion?

January 23, 2009 | 2:37 PM Comments  {num} comments

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