Delegate: Kristofer McGhee (21 years)
Mr. McGhee (United Kingdom): In the interest of brevity, I shall deliver only part of my statement as prepared. The full text will be circulated in writing. I have the honour, in my capacity as United Kingdom youth delegate to the tenth anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth, to present this statement on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Norway, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
The European Union warmly welcomes this opportunity to join with other Member States, civil society and all youth delegates present here today in celebrating the progress made in achieving greater opportunities for young people. But the European Union also recognizes that many challenges remain, challenges that were highlighted in the 10 priority areas of the World Programme of Action, as well as in the five new priorities identified in the World Youth Report 2003. Today provides the occasion to reaffirm our shared commitment to the World Programme of Action for Youth and to addressing the needs of young people all over the world.
The year 2005 has been a crucial year for advancing the opportunities for young people at the international level. The recent millennium review summit reinforced the international community’s commitment to young people. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals will shape the world in which today’s children will reach adulthood, and many of the Goals address issues of central concern for young people now, such as poverty, education, employment and HIV/AIDS. The European Union welcomes the work of UNICEF, which is the leading United Nations organization for young people, and pays tribute to UNICEF for driving this agenda forward.
The European Union remains committed to the biggest social challenge of the twenty-first century: the elimination of poverty. The European Union is committed to doubling its development assistance by 2010. Significant steps have also been taken to reduce the burden of debt on the most heavily indebted poor countries. All these steps will help lift young people from poverty.
But further progress must be made. The European Union calls upon all donors to move speedily towards the goal of 0.7 per cent of their gross national income for development assistance and upon developing country Governments to prepare ambitious national poverty reduction strategies that recognize the specific needs of young people. The European Union welcomes the fact that young people are increasingly being consulted in drafting Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. But a great deal more needs to be done to highlight the needs of young people. Youth should be mainstreamed into poverty reduction strategies and young people must be consulted on policy relating to those strategies.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to unemployment. Youth unemployment rates are typically two to three times higher than for others, and young women are particularly at risk. Decent work is the most effective way out of poverty. The European Union urges an increased commitment to youth employment initiatives at national and international levels and is itself working to attract more people into employment and to reduce unemployment as one of Europe’s top priorities.
The European Union welcomes the progress made by the Secretary-General’s Youth Employment Network and encourages its further expansion to facilitate the implementation of national action plans for youth employment. There is much to learn via this network through exchanging experiences and ideas from both developed and developing countries. Practical implementation on the ground will be of critical importance in the coming year.
To help meet its commitment to youth employment, the European Union is investing more in human capital through better education and skills, including through the European Youth Pact for Young [*6*] People adopted in February 2005. Education is crucial if young people are to be able to benefit from employment opportunities. In 2000, over 100 million primary-school-age children all over the world were still not in education, and over 100 million young people lacked effective reading and writing skills. Efforts must be redoubled to meet the Millennium Goals for education by investing in quality education that will enable all young people, boys and girls, to attain decent work as a first step towards competing effectively in today’s global economy.
The European Union fully recognizes the critical contribution that young people can make to decisionmaking. Education plays a crucial role in providing young people with the skills needed for active citizenship. The inclusion of young people in so many delegations here today is evidence of the improving dialogue between Governments and young people and the incorporation of their valuable input on issues that affect them.
Across the European Union, there are an increasing number of youth programmes aimed at developing cooperation on a wide range of activities between young people in different Member States and beyond. Bringing together young people from different backgrounds and from different countries helps combat negative prejudices and stereotypes. Young people are key to creating the tolerant society in which we all want to live.
In addition to its continued strong support of the 10 priorities identified in the World Programme of Action in 1995, the European Union also attaches critical importance to the five additional areas identified in the World Youth Report 2003. Addressing exclusion, discrimination and disadvantage in regard to youth is of fundamental importance if the European Union is to meet its vision of a Europe — and a world — that is socially inclusive as well as economically dynamic.
And, of course, all this needs to happen with the full and effective participation of young people. We must be recognized as partners in this work. We are a positive force for social and economic development. Youth issues should not be considered in isolation from those of other generations.
I would like to briefly finish with some personal comments on behalf of the young people in the United Kingdom.
Before coming to New York, the three United Kingdom youth representatives undertook a consultation exercise with young people across the United Kingdom to hear their views. In our consultation, we found that young people expect more from education. There is a greater need for the mandatory provision of citizenship education. Young people want to understand democratic systems locally, nationally and internationally. They emphasize the need to be fully prepared for life and therefore support the provision of skills classes in areas such as budgeting, home economics and independent life. Bearing in mind the high levels of teenage pregnancy in the United Kingdom, they also want all education authorities and youth providers to offer sexual health education.
Young people are not just the future — we are the present. We have a right to be involved in all decisions. Youth participation is essential. We appreciate the existence of youth parliaments in our country and respectfully request the development of more youth-led organizations worldwide.
I ask for recognition, involvement and understanding of youth. I ask for implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth. Ten years have passed; it is now time for action.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.27
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.27, 6 October 2005, p. 5-6, Youth Delegate Search: https://youthdelegatesearch.org/united-kingdom-2005/.