UN General Assembly updates decade-old youth action plan to meet new challenges

UN General Assembly updates decade-old youth action plan to meet new challenges

Seeking to keep pace with the emerging challenges of today’s world, the United Nations General Assembly has updated its decade-old programme of action for youth by adding measures to address globalization, information technology, HIV/AIDS infections, armed conflict and pressing intergenerational issues in an increasingly aging society.

“Many young people today continue to suffer poverty, discrimination and inequality, and far too great a number still lack access to proper education and health services,” General Assembly President Jan Eliasson told Thursday’s review on the Global Action Plan for Youth.

“Most of those who have become infected with HIV/AIDS are in their teens or early twenties,” he added. Few could have predicted the sometimes negative impact of globalization and information technologies that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are experiencing today, he said, addressing the mixed audience of youth delegates representing some two dozen countries, and General Assembly Members.

The five new areas of focus in general reflect the emerging issues outlined in the Secretary-General’s 2005 World Youth report, and add to a 10-point World Programme on Youth initially adopted in 1995, which includes education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure time activities, girls and young women, and full and effective participation in society and in decision making. By adopting the new resolution, the General Assembly is calling on Governments and civic actors to base their programmes on an agreed-upon international strategy.

The adoption of the resolution capped a day of debate in which young people stepped up to the podium and communicated their countries’ positions on a host of issues. That included Itzel Barrera de Diego, Youth Delegate from Mexico, who said that young people were being continuously marginalized due to lack of education, poor access to new communication technologies, and a gap between urban and rural development.

With the effects of globalization, Jiang Guangping, Youth Delegate from China said his country had changed radically over the past 10 years, but some of those changes would require new government programmes for young people, including some that would focus on intergenerational problems and the negative effects of globalization.

Increasing employment opportunities in her country had positive and negative consequences Mai Taha Mohamed Khalil, Delegate from Egypt said. The negative result was an increase in illegal activities, including terrorism. Globalization did not always result in evenly distributed resources either, she said, because many had still not realized their ambition for better jobs.

A young woman who is herself a refugee from northern Uganda, Victoria Uwonkunda, the representative from Norway, called on the world body to recognize the important need to integrate displaced children in new host countries, where without government integration, they are in danger of creating a new lower class.

Unemployment and HIV/AIDS were some of the many challenges affecting youth in Nicaragua, Delegate Tremino Rivera said. Sex education seminars would help reduce the birth rate and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The funding for these programmes should be found by reducing external debt in cooperation with development partners, he added.