Delegate: Ms. Kirsten Hagon (23 years)
62. Ms. Hagon (Australia) said, with reference to agenda item 108, that young people were key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation, as emphasized by the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. They should therefore be given greater opportunities to participate in the economic, social, political and cultural aspects of their societies and communities.
63. Her Government had launched a national youth policy, which gave priority to communication between the Government and young people, and introduced a national youth week, which highlighted the positive contribution of young people to society. Various other initiatives included youth media awards and a youth information web site, as well as various forums through which young people could communicate directly with the Government on issues affecting them. Youth-run non-governmental organizations also performed invaluable work.
64. Member States could promote youth participation at every level by including youth representatives in delegations to the General Assembly or other United Nations conferences. Her Government, which had adopted that practice, commended the approach to other countries. [*10*]
65. The World Youth Forum provided a unique opportunity for young people from around the world to meet and exchange views. Her Government had therefore provided funding for youth representatives to attend the past two sessions. While the United Nations Youth Unit must retain primary responsibility for the Forum, it was essential that young people and youth organizations should participate in the planning and organizing of such a major international event. Local, regional and international initiatives that promoted the participation and empowerment of youth should also be developed.
66. Poverty, malnutrition, the HIV/AIDS problem and lack of access to health services and education directly affected not only the current but also future generations of young people. International efforts were vital to addressing such issues. Education constituted the most basic building block, being essential for development and a prerequisite for youth empowerment and participation. Violence, intolerance, armed conflict and hatred had a devastating effect on young people throughout the world, yet it was young people who held out the hope of a peaceful, secure and less violent future, if they received proper support. Member States should view young people not as a burden or as a challenge but as an invaluable resource.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/56/SR.4