Delegate: Hanna Hallin (23 years)
Ms. Hallin (Sweden): Imagine a world in which millions of young people do not die before the age of 20 because of poverty, pregnancy, conflict, the lack of health services or HIV/AIDS; a world in which young women and young men are able to read and have decent work with a decent salary; a world in which young people are free to seek their identity, without fear of repression, exclusion or discrimination. Imagine a world in which the voices of youth count.
As the Swedish youth delegate, I am honoured to address the Assembly today. There are more youth delegates present here than ever before. This is a welcome tenth anniversary birthday gift from those Governments to the youth of their nations and of the world. Governments must continue to include youth representatives in their national delegations, and allow us to participate and be listened to. This is about making commitments matter and, first and foremost, about the long-term development of each society and the world at large.
Young women and young men are today a major force in global development. Young people, when given the opportunity, are initiating a vast number of projects to improve life in their communities. Such projects include combating HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, promoting a clean environment and initiating peer-topeer education.
Youth-led initiatives must be facilitated and, when effective, turned into partnerships with Governments, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations. The establishment of independent youth organizations must be an essential and uncomplicated process, and youth organizations must have access to public and private funding.
Young people should be seen as equal partners in the process of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. I stress here the significance of viewing the World Programme of Action for Youth as the key to accomplishing the eight development goals. In this work we ask for the recognition and involvement of youth, for tolerance and understanding, and for implementation.
At the same time, young people are marginalized when Governments do not respect the right to health, education and decent work. We are also marginalized when we are not allowed to express our sexual, religious or indigenous identity without fear for our lives. For instance, today young people flee their countries because of their sexual identity. It should be every person’s right to seek his or her identity; that is a question of human dignity.
Hence, every national youth policy should include measurable goals on how to improve the situation for all young women and young men, with special attention to marginalized youth, in order to secure our full participation in society.
There are no adequate excuses. Young people’s needs must be taken into account, and young people must be able to lead the development of their societies. We want a world in which young people do not die before the age of 20; where young people are able to read and have decent work with a decent salary. We want a world where young people are free to seek their identity and where the voices of youth count.
It is time for action. We all know what to do; now let us do it. The world that we are aiming for is well within our reach. We have the goals, the means and the motivation to reach it. Let us prove that our common efforts in the World Programme of Action for Youth were not in vain. Let young people be the change.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.27