UNGA: Empowering the youth as change-makers

Delegates at the opening session of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York yesterday. Courtesy.

Last week,world leaders gathered in New York for the high-level meeting of the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA). The General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. It comprises 193 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter.

UNGA annual meeting, typically held in September, is a moment for countries and sectors to come together and address the most urgent global issues. In particular, the agenda covered the full spectrum of international issues, including sustainable development, climate change, peace and security, human rights, public health concerns and gender equality.

For the first time in its history, the UN officially launched a system-wide strategy to step up its work with and for young people across three main pillars – peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. The new strategy will provide a more coordinated, coherent, and holistic approach for the UN’s work on youth issues. Fortunately, this programme is being advanced by the UN Secretary-General, who may be determined to bring a series of reforms aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the UN.

Currently, there are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world, 90 per cent of whom live in less developed countries. This is the largest youth population that can contribute exponentially to transform our way of life.

However, it is quite important to note that political instability and unemployment can make the youth isolated.  But if the agenda to support the youth, no doubt, they have full potential to be the architects of a better future. If they’re supported they can champion the global development agenda. There’s lack of passion, participation and innovation of today’s youth.

Resolving political instability across the globe would create a fertile ground for the youth to demonstrate their abilities. Among the UN’s commitments is to bring peace and stability to war-ravaged areas, namely Mali and the Central African Republic, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan et cetera. Peace and conflict prevention are the springboard for turning things around. Action for Peace, an agenda recently launched by Secretary-General Guterres, is a great initiative to mobilize greater support for political solutions to conflict as well as greater resources for well-structured, well-equipped and well-trained forces.

Undoubtedly, conflict reverses development and carries a tremendous cost—both in human lives and physical destruction. Peace and development agendas are connected, and we need progress on both to achieve lasting change for everyone, everywhere. To achieve this, the youth must be mobilised to feel a sense of obligation in contributing to the transformational agenda of their communities.

In this regard, as is well known, in September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to build on Millennium Development Goals and complete what they didn’t achieve. The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.

Perhaps, a fundamental question is: whether the SDGs will be achieved where no one is left behind by the year 2030. This calls for all nations to pursue a collective approach to achieve the ambition. By creating a universal agenda to rally around, the SDGs offer a clear and collective purpose that unites all nations.

The commitment to bolster the role of the youth in turning things around is fundamentally ideal. Therefore, there’s a need to motivate young people around the world to take action. Not only they can raise their voices, they can also step up their communities. They have potential contribute to national transformational agenda as well as global change. Inspiring children to be change-makers must be seen as a golden rule.

Indeed, as the UNGA embarks on the support of the young people, gender equality is important because it addresses most of our global goals, specifically towards human rights. It should all start with the realization of their rights. This goes hand-in-hand with creating environment that generates opportunities to enhance the youth skills and where to apply them. At any rate, once they have what they need, they will be more able to help themselves and others in change of their lives.

The UN means so much to the young people because is a club of world leaders where they meet and take action. Such action would be instrumental in helping the young people be able to offer their contribution towards a changed world. The world isn’t too small for them or too large for me to make a difference.

Young people are far more than tomorrow’s leaders

Young people are already in the game of changing the world! In some areas, young people are the game makers! In climate change activism and poverty reduction – who are the major domestic players? Youth-led organisations. We must acknowledge that young people are the best change-makers.


The writer is a law expert.

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