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.

Youth Candidate to UN Secretary-General

article 1 UNSG youth candidateThe UNYANET team has been following the debates of UN Secretary-General candidates. We find them very interesting but somehow they tend to forget about youth issues despite the fact that young people account for more than half of the world’s population. Thus, we strongly believe that youth issues should be addressed by the next UNSG. That’s why we launch this campaign to propose a young candidate for UNSG to raise awareness about youth and Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Are you a young person passionate about international relations, dreaming to make a better world and willing to contribute to raise global awareness about youth issues and SDGs? This is for you! All young people who have the interest to run for UN Secretary-General, please, start the application process here: http://goo.gl/forms/HGUVFzYTXbRQQdzO2

 

The application will further require:

  1. CV
  2. motivation letter with picture of the candidate (400 words maximum)
  3. vision statement including challenges of the UN, solutions, linkages between Sustainable Development Goals and youth, and why we need a young candidate for UN-Secretary General (maximum 6000 words)

Vision statements as well as selected articles by youth candidates  discussing youth and SDGs will be published in the blog.

Selection process will followed by an interview. Selected candidates will be asked to write a vision statement on youth and Sustainable Development Goals. Applications close on 20th August 2016 12am GMT. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

 

Looking forward to meet the future candidates.

 

A short description of our project:

After discussing the main challenges of global governance during the UNYANET General Assembly in September 2015, the proposal for a young candidate to run for UNSG was emerged to give a younger energy, more vibrant voice and renewed image of the United Nations.

The “Youth to UN-Secretary General Online Campaign” is run by student leaders, most of whom are from the universities located in the 18 countries where UNYANET is present.

 

Mission Statement:

We believe by promoting a younger candidate to run for UN Secretary-General (UNSG) will incorporate the demands of the youth and seek for possible solutions.
Objectives:

  1. To empower youth with knowledge and skills for UN work contribution
  2. To create awareness and inform about the current state of the world is a top priority for youth to solve the issues behind global governance

Selection Criteria:

  1. The priorities of the youth candidate are thoroughly selected after examining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), My World 2015 survey and the Global Governance and Youth Workshop organized by the UN Youth Network.
  2. Such online participatory selection process of youth candidates will be followed by an online public debate which organise between different candidates to UNSG and some representatives of the 15 Member States that will vote.

Target Audience:

  1. Youth
  2. Students
  3. Academics
  4. Relevant public figures
  5. Other candidates to UNSG, to all UN Member States especially to the 15 of the UN Security Council and other interested parties

Activities:

Online promotion of the SDGs, the results of MyWorld2015 and other youth priorities

Useful link:

UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service, “In 2016, the UN will appoint a new Secretary-General” ask the http://www.unngls.world/home

 

UNYANET does not charge any fees in the application process. UNYANET has no liability for any consequences of the campaign.

The 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum and Youth Event in Bali, Indonesia

The 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum and Youth Event in Bali, Indonesia

Photo Credit: Indonesia.Travel

Through the 29th and 30th of August, the 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum was celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. The theme for this year’s Forum was “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values”, gathering heads of state and state representatives, academics, journalists and religious leaders from around the globe for a short but intense summit divided into break-out sessions dealing with such diverse topics as inter-religiosity in education or the treatment of migration stories in the media. Along with the Global Forum, a Youth Event took place during the 28th, where 100 youth from 41 different countries were selected from more than 3000 applicants to work together under the topic “The Role of Youth in Promoting “Unity in Diversity” through Education, Media, and Migration” in order to create youth-led recommendations which would be afterwards delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

I was one of the 100 lucky youths to actively participate in the Youth Event and attend the 6th UNAoC Global Forum, an experience I would like to share with a few words. The 28th was a very busy day. A briefing awaited us at 6:30 a.m. to go through the schedule of the day so there was little time to suffer the jet lag. Once at the convention center, after a welcoming speech delivered by the UN High Representative for the AoC Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, we split into four break out session with small discussion groups dealing with four main issues: Education, Media, Migration and Entrepreneurship/Employment. Every group consisted of around 25 participants but also of international observers and resource personnel. Amidst the 25 participants there was a facilitator, who mediated the discussion, two note-takers and a time tracker, who was to ensure the very packed schedule we had for the morning was adequately followed. Aside from a participant, I was also an active discussion member, serving as one of the note-takers in my small discussion group, which was in charge of creating recommendations dealing with the issue of migration. I felt happy and relieved to see that even though our roles had been strictly compartmentalized in theory, during the discussion the team of active participants helped each other in an effort to create a welcoming environment for everyone to contribute with their thoughts, to lead the discussion toward what were considered core issues and to phrase them in the shape of recommendations that would satisfy the whole of the group.

If there is something to learn from sitting at a table with 25 people you have just met, from many different countries and obvious different backgrounds, but all with a clear goal to achieve (and a tight schedule to do so) is that it can become frustrating, and at the same time incredibly intense and inspiring. Whatever you consider to be the pressing issues in your country, your culture or the political system you live in, they are probably not of much importance to someone living on the other side of the world, and that is OK. By sitting at such table one hears (probably for the first time) about the issues of the other. We learn to listen, we practice empathy, and struggle to compromise. With an exercise like this one it is also made clear how painfully difficult it must be in a real meeting between state representatives, as every word is questioned over and over and a single sentence feels like a great achievement. By the afternoon, after a quick lunch and even quicker visit to the Taman Ayun temple to clear our minds, the recommendations were ready to be read out loud, tweaked a little bit and declared finished. An inspiring speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, including a short but amusing Q&A, closed the day. Many ran to shake his hand or take a selfie, only a few succeeded. After a huge group photograph it was time to go back to the hotel.

A few days after the Youth Event, all of us back in our countries, we receive an email from Francesco Candelari, one of the incredibly professional AoC staff that accompanied us during the whole trip: our recommendations will in fact reach the desk of the Secretary General and will also be given to the Secretary General Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi. But bear in mind, thousands of recommendations are produced by the international community every year and not all of them can be properly followed up. Expect no miracles, is what he is stating politely. Even so, at the end of the day, it is not that important if our recommendations are actually taken into account. What matters is the chance of getting to know like-minded, brilliant people and, through talking to them, opening small windows into their worldviews, their cultures and hopes for the future. All the conversations I had during the three days of the Forum, however brief, have helped shape me into a better, more open and understanding person. I believe it felt the same to my fellow youth participants, and that is a very good step towards become a future leader, if it is the path of any of us to become one. After all, that is what the UNAoC Youth Event was truly all about.

My Road to Success as a Volunteer

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Mr. Seleman at UNESCO`s HQ in Paris when he attend 8th UNESCO
Youth forum in 2013

We can create the world we dream of”. My name is Seleman Yusuph Kitenge. I`m a Tanzanian young leader aged 25 years old. I`m  the seventh born in the family of eight children. I finished primary education in 2004 and joined Azania Secondary school where I graduated in 2008. In 2009 I commenced my college education at Tanzania Public Service College and graduated with a Diploma in Public Sector Financial management. Currently, I`m a third year student at the Open University of Tanzania, pursuing a Bachelor degree of Arts in Sociology. I`m a Native Swahili speaker, fluent in English and a basic German speaker, I`m passionate about sustainable development, humanitarian work, media and communication, international relations, photographing, social activism and peace advocacy. I have previously volunteered as a Peer Educator for Don Bosco Life Choices Program, Azania Roots and shoots club as a Coordinator, Chairman and Founder of Tanzania Public Service College United Nations chapter and served as a Consultant to President of Tanzania Public Service college student organization.

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Fundraising in the Times of Crisis for Youth-Led NGOs

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Source: Fotolia

Fundraising in the times of crisis is a sensitive issue. These crises may include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, civil unrest, political uprising, so on and so forth, whereby there are unprecedented economic, social and political impacts.Therefore, it takes a careful hand to fundraise in such times, where the crisis at hand may have adverse effects on organisations and their programmes.

The first thing to note about fundraising in such times is the sensitivities of the cause you are raising for and how you, as a potential fundraiser, will deal with them. As an already established youth-led non-governmental organisation, you should already have a network to whom you will approach for potential partnerships and donations. New supporters need to be cultivated, with existing ones hearing from you about your stand on the crisis.

Find out more about fundraising legalities and acceptable practices in the country you are raising for and from, if you are from another country. This will create a smoother road to fundraising success. There are usually helpful bodies and guidelines which can help you achieve your goal. There are also legal and accounting terms to consider, such as whether these funds are tax-deductible in your country and the country you are raising the funds for.

Create a goal, mission, vision, fundraising tactics and a timeline. Implement a contingency plan to prepare and mobilise your organisation to react and adjust to new economic conditions. In the face of many fundraising scandals, transparency is key. In an effort to encourage more transparency about the usage and allocation of the funds, the second thing is to create a public fundraising plan and timeline as to how you are going to use the funds raised for the cause. Updates should preferably continue in the weeks and months following the initial fundraising phase so as to increase transparency of what the funds are used for. This will ensure donors’ funds are used according to how they were planned for, helping to build trust in your organisation.

There are various fundraising methods, whether online or offline. Things to consider would be how you can do that whether you’re located in the country or raising funds for a cause in another country. Increase your organisation’s social capital: engage the board and discuss any strategic plans. Train all your staff and volunteers on the importance of continuous fundraising and utilise their various expertise to add value to your organisation.

Approaching potential corporate donors and sponsors could be a crucial part of your fundraising efforts; whereby support from such organisations would lend even more legitimacy to your organisation and perhaps even increase your reach. Diversify your donor base and expand your network: professional, alumni, school, so on and so forth. You would be surprised at how much support you can garner with a clear, concrete and viable mission, tactics and timeline.

At the end of the day, donors and sponsors should be thanked and kept updated. Progress on the beneficiaries and the cause should also be updated. This is for donors and partners to have a more active, personal attachment to the beneficiaries of the funds, cultivating a deeper, longer-term relationship. These donors are the key people with the means to give to your organisation now and in the future.

For more information on effective fundraising and building long-term relationships with your donors, sign up for our workshops in 23rd August 2014 at 15:00h GMT+2 and September 2014. We look forward to seeing you then!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1lLcKmRAUmUmTKRsE6d7KNVBAa_UbJG0p9hi1vEW6PF4/viewform

The Situation of Human Rights of Disabled Youth in Kenya

Source: http://tinyurl.com/l3y89vy

Source: http://tinyurl.com/l3y89vy

“When you hear the word ‘disabled’, people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter”, says Terri Garr, a motivational speaker.

When I heard Terry speak, I asked myself, WHO IS THE DISABLED? WHAT ARE HIS OR HER HUMAN RIGHTS? HOW YOUNG ARE THEY? DOES THE CONSTITUTION DEFINE RESTRAINS OVER THE SAME? As for Kenya, the Human Rights commission defines the disabled as the naturally challenged beings whose daily livelihood does not follow the norms of normalcy, but rather struggles through the corridors of life to make ends meet. Continue reading

Model United Nations must grow into the role of a simulation of the UN

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Photo: Delegates at Harvard WorldMUN 2014. Rima-Maria Rahal

At ModelUN, we simulate the United Nations. A ModelUN conference is a hands-on way to learn how international relations work, how to behave as a diplomat, and – wherever you see your career path take you – a golden opportunity to learn how to be a global leader. After all, slipping into the role of a diplomat to a UN body not only requires you to put your knowledge of current affairs, international relations and the mechanics of being a diplomat into action while aiming to represent your nation’s views to your best ability. Being a MUNer also means trying to cut deals that are not only good for you, but good for the simulated international community as a whole, crafting your own network of cooperators and pulling through intrigue and competition.

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The Role of Youth in the Accomplishment of MDGs in Nigeria

MDGs

Photo: MDGs

The role of the Nigerian youth in the attainment of MDG’s is varied and diverse. The vision of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to have a world without corruption, strife and bad leadership among the peoples as well as authorities. The level of commitment and discipline among Nigerian youth should be the first consideration if the nation is to achieve the MDG goals.

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Bring Back Our Girls

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Photo: change.org

It is time for the international community to take actions not only in responding to the Chibok abductions, but also prevent more tragedies from happening.

In the week since the kidnapping of over 200 girls in northern Nigeria, people from across the world have condemned the terrible attack caused by the Boko Harams. The truth is that before they were taken at gunpoint, the Chibok girls lead a life that was exceptional for a girl in northern Nigeria: they were in school.

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Ambassador Hoffmann: “The younger generation must continue our battle towards a world without nuclear weapons”

Conference on Disarmament meets in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

Conference on Disarmament meets in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

In May 2013, before I finished my traineeship in Geneva, the German permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann, was generous enough to grant a moment out of his busy schedule for a video interview during which he shares his views on the inclusion of youth particularly in the disarmament processes at the UN. Continue reading