Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly

Participation in decision-making is one of the key priority areas of the UN's agenda on youth. This, of course, should also be applied to its own work. Therefore, for some years, the most direct form of youth participation at the UN has been the inclusion of youth representatives in some of the the official delegation to the General Assembly of the UN in New York.
For the 55th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, eight countries included youth in their delegations. I was appointed by the Indian Prime Minister to be included on India's national delegation to the historic Millennium Summit and Assembly that brought together 189 heads of states and governments, who later launched the Millennium Development Goals. My fellow representatives from other countries and myself were at the General Assembly for at least two weeks to raise attention to youth related problems. We were in New York from the mid-September until the first half of November 2000. The role of a youth representative varies between member state delegations. Most of us were responsible for delivering a statement to "the Third Committee." The Third Committee is the part of the UN General Assembly that deals exclusively with economic and social affairs.

Six of us addressed the Third Committee under item 103 of the General Assembly's agenda on social development. I delivered my official youth statement of 28th September 2000 on Youth and Sustainable Livelihoods. All of us also attended a number of meetings within the UN, and assisted our delegations in their consideration of agenda items relating to youth. During several weeks in New York, most of us had time to fulfill a mixture of roles, being both trainees, politicians, diplomats and lobbyists. Together we also published our own bulletin and organized a well-attended Youth Symposium at the UN followed by a press conference.

All these activities were aimed at raising awareness about the importance of having youth representatives and encouraged other States to include Youth Representatives in their delegations, as well as about the importance of youth participation in general. Several meetings between the Youth Unit and the Youth Representatives took place. The Youth Delegates bring the knowledge home to tell youth in schools and youth-organizations on how UN deals with youth issues.

Follow these 10 steps to be appointed as the official Youth Representative of your country to the UN General Assembly:

1. Join your National Youth Council or any other youth platform that represents the youth voice of your country. You can connect to existing National Youth Councils through the World Assembly of Youth.
2. Take a leadership role within your National Youth Council or youth NGO.
3. Promote the United Nations Charter and what it stands for in your country through your national organization or network.
4. Organize campaigns and briefing sections to inform other youth members about the importance of youth participation in decision making.
5. Highlight the importance of active and meaningful participation of youth people at all levels of decision making processes.
6. Have the National Youth Council or youth organization nominate you as a candidate for the official delegation to the UNGA.
7. Have the National Youth Council or youth organization to send your name to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your capital.
8. Follow up with government officials, who will forward your name to the Prime Minister's or President's office for approval.
9. If the Head of State approves your candidacy as youth representative to the UNGA you can start a media campaign in your country.
10. Organize a formal debriefing session for all interested youth organizations and press before you leave for the UN HQ and inform them what you hope to achieve through your participation in our country's official delegation.

For more information please visit the following web site of the United Nations Youth Unit:

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