Delegate: Mr. Thiebou
8. Mr. Thiebou (Netherlands) recalled that Eleanor Roosevelt had highlighted the need to give more attention to the problems of youth but 70 years later, and 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, despite progress made, many challenges remained. For example, he expressed disappointment that, although half of the world’s population was under 25 and in spite of the reaffirmation by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/126 of the importance of youth participation in decision-making, less than 10 per cent of Member States had been able to send a youth delegate to the current session of the General Assembly.
9. It was urgent to allow youth to give a voice to their generation and influence public policy to help those in need. Investing in and focusing on young people and enlisting their help was perhaps the most effective way of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) because young people best understood their own problems and would have to deal with the consequences of current decisions and find solutions in the future for a better world. Wherever and whenever decisions were taken that affected youth they must be involved.
10. Good health was a prerequisite for young people’s participation, yet nearly a billion people had no access to drinking water, and two and a half billion people had no access to proper sanitary facilities. That was a human tragedy for children and young people, more of whom died from the effects of contaminated water than from AIDS or armed conflict. In developing countries, 80 per cent of diseases that affected young people were water-related. Many of them, in particular girls, did not attend school or dropped out because of poor sanitary facilities.
11. Although the technical and financial means to end the water and sanitation crisis existed, many parts of the world still lacked action plans to promote access to water and sanitation. Young people should be involved in designing water and sanitation schemes, for example for schools, and should be encouraged to act as peer educators to teach the importance of hygiene. All young people had the right to good health and human dignity, which implied access to clean water and sanitation. In that context, he welcomed the recognition by the Netherlands of the right to water and sanitation as a human right. Lastly, he stressed that young people did not want promises, good intentions and resolutions; they wanted real solutions and actions. Their thirst for participation could only be quenched by concrete measures aimed at involving them in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and implementing General Assembly resolution 62/126 and by including them in delegations and decision-making at all levels.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/63/SR.3
UN Doc.: A/C.3/63/SR.3, 7 October 2008, p. 3, Youth Delegate Search: https://youthdelegatesearch.org/netherlands-2008/.