Delegate: Mrs. Deckers-Daemen
13. Mrs. DECKERS-DAEMEN (Netherlands) speaking as her country’s youth representative, said that her delegation welcomed the General Assembly’s recognition of the Geneval Informal Meetings of the international non-gonvernmental organizations as an important channel of communication between the United Nations and youth and youth organizations. She regretted, however, that only a few countries had followed the guidelines recommending Governments to consider the inclusion of youth representatives in their delegations. Her delegation believed that the emphasis should now be placed on intensifying efforts towards the implementation of the guidelines in order to ensure full and effective participation of young people in the activities of the United Nations and, in particular, in the preparation and observance of the International Youth Year.
14. Older people continually used the expression “Youth has the future”. Young people found that difficult to accept because they lived in the present. A recent conference organized in Europe had been entitled “Preparation for life”. Such a title gave the impression that young people did not live but had to be taught to live before they could join society. Similarly, the aged, who had most of life behind them, were no longer allowed to remain in society’s activities. She wondered what gave the middle generation the right to behave as if it were the sole possessor of the present. One of the subtitles of the conference she had just mentioned was “Preparation for culture”. That seemed to suggest that the culture of young people was not real. Youth had its own ways of cultural expression, which could be seen in the way young people dressed and their preference for certain types of music. Furthermore, older people referred to youth as progressive, playful, imaginative and original; but when it suited their purpose, they referred to youth as extremist, subversive and deviant. In short, young people were regarded as being interesting but also as problematic enough for the United Nations to designate an International Youth Year with the themes of participation, development and peace.
15. Young people ought to feel free to do what they thought was right and to say what they believed. For example, they should be able to choose alternatives to military service and to participate in peace movements and other political activities of their choice. However, freedom remained an empty word if responsibility was not included. Young people did indeed make many demands, but they were also prepared to discharge their duties. For that reason, they wished to be accepted as equal partners in society and saw no need for a declaration specifically concerning the rights and responsibilities of youth. As equal partners, young people had rights and responsibilities equal to those of other [*7*] members of society. They were well aware of those responsibilities, and their rights were sufficiently covered by existing international instruments on human rights. Young people did not wish to be treated as a special group for whose benefit extra provisions should be made.
16. Her delegation would advocate an approach based on the wishes and specific interests of young people themselves. There should be no spending of money on a world conference relating to youth when that money could be put to better use, there should be no youth decade and no new institutional structures, since so many already existed. Young people preferred stimulating youth initiatives, acceptance and appreciation of their opinions, and allowance for openness, freedom (including freedom of conscience) and progressiveness. Youth issues should be integrated into the overall United Nations policies and programmes. Existing structures should be strengthened at the working level instead of creating a new United Nations body on youth. The additional staff needed should be integrated into the structure of the Centre for Sovial Development and Humanitarian Affairs. The International Youth Year would be successful only if it was brought close to young people all over the world in their own environment and living atmosphere, thus offering them the opportunity for true participation.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/37/SR.14