Do Young People Have a Voice in the UN?


The follow up process to the implementation of the UN’s Global Goals (the SDGs); the signing of the Paris Agreement; Sweden being elected to the Security Council. These were some of the highlights from my eventful internship at the Swedish Mission to the United Nations in the New York Headquarters earlier this year. A place where World leaders, diplomats, activists and celebrities gather to take collective actions for Peace and Security, Sustainable Development and Human Rights. A career dream that came true.

During my internship I participated in some meetings and conferences that focused on Youth and Development – and I was positively surprised to see that young people’s importance is becoming more recognized in the UN-system. As the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated at some of these meetings:

– Youth are more than victims of poverty and economic downturn. They can be agents of change. Young people are the leaders of today.

Thus, young people are key actors for achieving Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals. In recent years, some initiatives have been taken in the UN, which aims to include youth. Since 2013, Ahmad Alhendawi has been appointed as an UN Youth Envoy. His role is to emphasize the needs and the rights of young people as well as giving advices to the Secretary General on youth issues.

But although the UN is making progress and has begun to understand the significance of youth inclusion, one could ask to what extent there is real representation of youth in the UN system? And who is (and who is not) able to participate? During my internship I noted three concerns that I would like to put forward.

Firstly, at the UN High-level Forum for Sustainable Development in July 2016, only six youth delegates from six of the UN’s 193 member states participated, meaning that the majority of the world’s countries did not have young representatives.

Secondly, at the majority of UN meetings youth delegates are not present. The young people who may be participating in these meetings are mostly interns – who are representing a country or an organization, thus, having the task to report back to their mission or organization on what have been said in the meeting. They do not have a voice. Furthermore, there are very few people who have the possibility to do an internship at the UN. The interns rarely receive financial support, meaning that only those people who are able to finance their own internship, can apply for it. Unfortunately, this excludes those people who are generally most marginalized, namely the poor.

Thirdly, a “popular form” of inclusion and participation (not only in the UN, but in general terms) is to add for instance youth-participation as a separate event. This could mean inviting young people to separate youth events, in which the majority of the participants are young people – but in which the influence over the outcomes, the decision making power and the ability to contribute to progressive actions on the issue, might be limited.

This is not to say that experienced experts with years of knowledge are not important, but simply suggesting that more diversity of perspectives and representation could benefit all and result in sustainable development.

To end with a positive note, at some of the UN meetings I participated in, there were young people invited as speakers – telling us interesting and heartbreaking stories about their struggles for Human Rights. I particularly remember a young woman who had become a victim of an acid attack, and had her whole body burned with acid. She proudly stood in front of us in the General Assembly hall and she told us about her struggle to survive the acid attack – and how she later had found the strength to continue working for Women’s Rights. A young heroine.

To conclude, half of the world’s population today is under 30 years old. We, the young peoples, play a crucial role in tackling Global Challenges and achieving Sustainable Development.

Thus, more positive actions and initiatives need to be taken to truly include us and give us a voice that is heard. We are not only the leaders of tomorrow; we are the leaders of today. We need to be invited, listened to, and included in these processes – and be motivated to really be the first generation that can eradicate poverty and tackle climate change.

Nationality: Global Citizen

Source: GlobalGiving

Source: GlobalGiving

No matter what global problem you are dreading, whether it’s the elimination of poverty, whether it’s the creation of peace, whether its solving environmental energy problems, the solution- whatever it is- multiple solutions, the solutions always include education, never is it without an education component and sometimes cannot be done without education.

– Nicholas Negroponte

Growing up, my parents constantly affirmed, “Education is the passport to the world of opportunities.” I believed them, and I still do. As a teacher today, I tell my students the same thing.

In a privileged country like Singapore, education is a determined right of all citizens. The moment we step into Primary One, an EduSave account is set up in the student’s name by the government. Every year thereafter until the students reaches the age of sixteen, SGD 200 is credited into the account annually. The fund can be used by the student to pay for tuition fees and any other government-approved co-curricular activities and school trips. As of 2015, according to Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development, Singapore tops the global school ranking.

This is all well and good for the small city-state. My bigger concern today is, how do we get this world-recognised education to every student on the planet, especially when we constantly demand that education is a basic human right. How is it possible that in today’s globalised and technologically advanced world, that the right to education is based on a handful of pre-determined factors? Factors that include; where the child was born, their ethnic affiliations and even what their last name is.

Currently, more than 124 million children and adolescents are out of school. UNESCO predicts that this number is on the rise. This is a clear indication that the system we have in place, is not working and must be changed.

It is time to rethink the system because obviously, the global education system we have set for ourselves no longer serves today’s world. If we continue to demand from governments whose priority is not their citizen’s education, then, we must acknowledge that a clear violation of a right has occurred and must be amended.

It is time to hand out those passports in order that all children, regardless of their race, nationality, place of birth, or social creed, get access to a basic primary education. We, as the youths and adults, have the obligation to at least do one thing right – to provide our children, the future of the world, with opportunities to make this planet a better place.

59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

wThe Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995 is a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women. It still remains as the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for action today, and is a current source of guidance and inspiration to realize gender equality and the human rights of women and girls worldwide.

After two weeks of political debate, exchange of information on good practice and lessons learned, representatives of 189 governments agreed to commitments that were unprecedented in scope. In addition, The Platform for Action covers 12 critical areas of concern which still classify as relevant challenges today: poverty; education and training; health; violence; armed conflict; economy; power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms; human rights; media; environment; and the girl child. For each critical area of concern, strategic objectives are identified, as well as a detailed catalogue of related actions to be taken by governments and other stakeholders, at national, regional and international level.

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Xenophobia

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#7 Ensuring access to energy for all

Goal-7

2014 marks the launch of the United Nations decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which calls for universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Energy access is a vital development goal, and the focus on energy as part of the agenda reflects energy as crucial in solving many development challenges.

The importance of universal access to modern energy services may not be clearly obvious, but its impact on developing countries are wide and far reaching, being critical to a country’s socioeconomic development. Increased access to reliable clean energy is essential for the protection of ecosystems through basic human rights such as sanitation and healthcare, as well as strengthening economies through improving access to education and improving national infrastructure. Continue reading

#6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal-6Human demands on the world’s available water supplies continue to grow due to rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialization. In the endeavour to manage water to meet human needs, greater demand for increasing smaller supply of water resources in the country and the ecological consequences have been tragic. If we hope to sustain water biodiversity, the appropriation of water flows must be better managed in order to ensure a wealth of goods and services for society in healthy water ecosystems.

To protect the ecological integrity of affected ecosystems, ecologically sustainable water management must occur in order to meet intergenerational human needs. Ecological integrity is protected when the compositional and structural diversity and natural functioning of affected ecosystems is maintained.

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More than just an internship: working for United Nations

Information Service (UNIS) Vienna from A to Z
Whether during conferences, in the offices or at events you will always find United Nations interns working hard to help make the organization run smoothly.

If you are a student or recent graduate and would like to gain first-hand experience working for the United Nations, the internship programme might be a great option. You will be exposed to the everyday work of the organization, supporting professional staff to carry out their tasks and projects. This will help you to decide whether this kind of work is something for you in the future. Continue reading

‘The Right to Criticize is earned from Willingness to Engage’ – Inspirations from the First Global Forum on Youth Policies

First Global Forum on Youth Policies

Assertion for rights have become more pronounced now than ever before. It has been brought about by political and social transition that has come in the form of democracy. While right to life, liberty and property are epitomized as inalienable human rights by several political philosophers and subsequent documentation in numerous Charters, Conventions and Constitutions, of late, right to expression has gained momentum. Within it, right to criticize has found its place among the people to the extent that it has become a common activity —so many people, in one way or another, participate in it . Complaints, gossips and anonymous complainants in news forums are quite popular amongst us.

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Islamic extremism in former Soviet Countries

Case of Abu Omar Al Shishani (Tarkhan Batirashvili) and ISIL threats to Vladimir Putin

Isis partisans

Source: http://flickr.com/islamicstate

Terrorist group ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), sometimes referred to as ISIS or simply IS, is now controlling a huge amount of land both in Iraq and Syria. Their influence is growing and their numbers are increasing on a daily basis. However, recruits of ISIL do not come only from the Middle East but also from Western nations. Many also come from former Soviet countries, mostly from Central Asia and the Caucasus region with huge numbers coming from the Russian North Caucasus, mainly Chechnya and Dagestan.

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Race, Class, Imperialism, Mankind and the Young – Ingxubevange

ujdaklsgdönnamed

I have been reading Steve Biko’s “I Write What I like” and in it he opens up my eyes and names things I have been thinking about but have failed to give names to. Biko tackles lots of issues from colonialism to racism and imperialism. Biko confronts the issue of white guilt stemming from the past and how white South Africans, particularly, deal with this guilt. “Basically the South African white community are a homogeneous group of people. It is a community of people who sit to enjoy a privileged position they do not deserve, are aware of this, and therefore try to spend time trying to justify what they do and why they are doing so. Where differences in political opinion exist, they are in the process of trying to justify their position and usurpation of power” Steve Biko. Biko further suggests that white South Africans become liberal in hope to overcome their guilt, and not because they understand what black South Africans have been through, are going through and will continue to endure. Whilst Biko wrote the article during the epitome of Apartheid, his Black Consciousness (BC) ideals still prove to be necessary. It is however imperative that black people do not use BC ideals to perpetuate racism, for populist tactics that are likely to degenerate their countries into states of anarchy that undermine the democracies that were attained through blood, sweat and sacrifices.

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