Delegate: Ms. Damsgaard-Larsen
Ms. Damsgaard-Larsen (Denmark): As a youth delegate in the Danish delegation to the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, and as a representative of the Danish Youth Council, it is a great honour and a privilege for me to address the Assembly. It is a great privilege because, in general, young people and in particular young women have a hard time getting their voices heard. Too often, decision-makers base their decisions on experiences that are not shared by all young people, and therefore the decisions do not always take into consideration our increasingly globalized world.
Too often, young people are not included in decisions that impact on their lives at both the national and the international levels. Those decisions could be improved or made more sustainable by including the perspectives of young people. Too often, young people are perceived to be associated with problems instead of solutions. In order to be solved, those problems need the involvement of young people.
Please, have confidence in young people. It is true that young people are indeed overrepresented in statistics related to negative issues. I would like to comment on two of those issues, HIV and terrorism. Half the worlds HIV victims are infected before they turn 25, and disgruntled young men and women are in the frontline of terrorism and armed conflict. If we want to meet those and other major challenges, we must involve young people. Nothing will be achieved for young people without the participation of young people.
When it comes to the battle against AIDS, it is absolutely pivotal to encourage young people to follow the ABC strategy: abstain, be faithful or use condoms. As noted with respect to the Millennium Development Goals, only by sharply reducing the rate of HIVprevalence among young people will we be able to stop the pandemic.
With respect to counter-terrorism measures, they should not be just about weapons. Equally important is shielding young people from totalitarian ideas by providing them with positive experiences of democracy and cultural tolerance.
We will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals or our shared vision of a more peaceful planet unless young people are genuinely recognized and utilized as a resource in society. We can do much more nationally, as well as internationally, to involve young people in solving major problems in our global community.
First, it is important to compile detailed statistics and data on problems concerning young people. In that respect, the World Bank deserves credit for making young people the theme of its World Development Report 2007 and for consulting young people about which problems to include in the Report. The Bank has set an example. [*15*]
Secondly, obligations already agreed should be met. The ideas set out in the World Programme of Action for Youth have yet to be fulfilled. Ten years after the Programmes adoption, a lot still needs to be done, and too many Member States have not given the Programme the attention it deserves.
Thirdly, we lack a comprehensive strategy for involving young people in the struggle to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Investing in young people is a prudent choice. There is a strong link between investing in young people and fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.
And finally, there needs to be a stronger focus on young peoples global awareness and their understanding of global issues. More education on global issues is needed to combat intolerance and promote international solidarity. We ask for the recognition and the involvement of youth. We ask for tolerance and understanding, and we ask for implementation.
Numerous agreements have been signed to make poverty past history, provide education for all, promote the rights of the child and so on agreements with great visions and ideas for a better world, agreements that call for action. We need to make an extraordinary effort, if the visions expressed in agreements already signed are to become a reality. Increasing the involvement of young people will fuel much-needed implementation. It is quite interesting to note that the abbreviation of the World Programme of Action for Youth is WPAY, which in English is pronounced we pay, because I am certain that young people are willing to contribute. But if young people are to be encouraged to do so, they need to be involved in the decisions that define the solutions they will have to pay for. It is time for action. We all know what to do. Now, please let us do it.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.28