Marking International Youth Day, United Nations officials today called for young people to be fully engaged in sustainable development policies in order to foster a world free of poverty, disease and war for future generations.
In his message on the Day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the involvement of young people "crucial" to the success of the World Summit for Sustainable Development, which opens in Johannesburg at the end of this month.
Mr. Annan noted that although governments were responsible for ensuring that international commitments on the issue were translated into action, they must rely on young generations to participate in this effort.
"I call on all of us to make the best possible use of young people's imagination, energy and indomitable spirit, in the cause of sustaining the future for succeeding generations," he said.
Echoing this view, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said that the cause of sustainable development, a key-concern among young generations, could be reinvigorated by their attendance at the Johannesburg Summit.
Mrs. Robinson added that youth should continue to campaign for peace and the respect of human rights while demanding action on poverty, education, food, adequate housing and a safe environment.
"I would like to encourage young people to continue their inspirational efforts," she said. "To campaign now for human rights and equality for all is to lay the groundwork for sustainable development for all, development that will not compromise the needs, dreams and possibilities of future generations."
International Youth Day has been commemorated worldwide every 12 August since 1999, after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating the date to promote a better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.