Delegate: Itzel Barrera de Diego (22 years)
Ms. Barrera de Diego (Mexico) (spoke in Spanish): Many generations have had the opportunity to eradicate poverty, but we will be the first to succeed.
In accordance with resolution 59/148, and in response to its request to present a summary of the round-table discussion on making commitments matter, the youth representatives have asked me to present those results.
As members know, the discussion was organized around the three areas into which the 15 youth priorities were categorized. The format was interactive, allowing many delegations and representatives of nongovernmental organizations to air their views.
First, with respect to youth and its relationship to the global economy, the disparities and difficulties of integration were of widespread concern. Marginalization resulting from the lack of access to new communications technology and high-quality universal education were only a few of the issues repeatedly raised. Efforts to narrow the gap between rural and urban development and proposals concerning self-employment were also frequently cited.
The issue of making agriculture an attractive and profitable activity as a solution to rural exodus and unemployment was strongly contrasted with the droughts and political realities in certain countries. We must point out that agriculture is not the only solution for rural development. Other ways to approach that challenge must therefore be found.
Secondly, the subject of youth and civil society was the focus of most of the debate, demonstrating that there is no link between young people and apathy. The world’s young people are using their leisure time to become involved in volunteer work. We are developing innovative and concrete responses to the challenges we face. We are demonstrating the ability to relate to marginalized groups. Those approaches, together with the knowledge of previous generations, will have unprecedented results in terms of successful integration policies.
In that connection, and in keeping with the need to be active participants in our own processes, we propose the following: the creation of a United Nations youth advisory council based on voluntarism, so that it will not represent a financial burden for the Organization; a mandate of helping Member States bring youth delegates to participate in General Assembly sessions; and the inclusion of a youth perspective in public policies through national youth councils.
Because of the factors I have cited, an alarming number of young people find themselves in at-risk situations. Moreover, there are cases of young people suffering from problems related to poor health, HIV/AIDS infection, drug abuse, youth delinquency and involvement in armed conflict, all at the same time. The assumption that young people’s health is indestructible is a misconception that not only delays, but in many cases hinders, the establishment of preventive health programmes.
It is important to point out that countries need effective demobilization and reintegration programmes for young people involved in armed conflicts. We urge countries that have successful programmes to share their experiences with the international community. However, the implementation of such programmes will be very difficult without the necessary resources.
We also need to point out that the violent stereotypes that have stigmatized young people for so long were countered by the mere presence of all of us in this forum. We must understand that we are the potential, the solution, the force for change — and I say “must” because young people and adults must understand what youth means: it means potential energy, the solutions. But that potential energy must be utilized and protected. Therefore, we urge all Governments to support the institutionalization of youth participation at all levels, and we welcome the efforts to conclude a United Nations convention on the rights of young people.
Finally, I wish to draw the attention of the Assembly to the fact that this round table enabled us to recognize not only our differences, but also the similarities of the challenges that must be faced by young people throughout the world. These are needs that know no geographic, linguistic or gender barriers or any other distinctions, and therefore require our immediate attention and resolution.
We are privileged young people. We are here 10 years after the establishment of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, but in very different conditions. Yes, members of the General Assembly, the difference lies in the fact that this time, with your help, we will not have to wait another 10 years to have the privilege to address you. [*4*]
Many generations have had the opportunity to eradicate poverty, but we will be the first to be successful.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.27