Volume 27 | No.11 | November 2023
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Giving young people a platform at the United Nations

In the recent 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, a remarkable 63 UN Youth Delegates from 37 Member States lent their voices to discussions on pressing global development challenges. But what exactly is the UN Youth Delegate (UNYD) Programme? Why is it important to prioritize meaningful youth engagement in UN processes, and how does UN DESA champion this cause?

Let's delve into six main takeaways:

  1. 1. Youth inclusion drives better policies: All issues are youth issues! With their unique perspectives and experiences, young people help shape policies that more effectively and inclusively address important challenges of our time.
  2. 2. Meaningful youth engagement is key: Managed at a global level by UN DESA, the UNYD Programme is a critical pathway for young people to engage in the UN’s work. By joining their national delegations on equal footing to other delegates, young voices actively shape global discussions.
  3. 3. Moving in the right direction: Since the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth in 1995, calling for youth representation in national delegations, an increasing number of Member States have appointed Youth Delegates to participate in UN meetings. However, regional balance, inclusivity, and diversity among the Youth Delegates remains an area for improvement.
  4. 4. Youth Delegates in action: Youth Delegates don’t just sit on the sidelines. They participate in numerous UN meetings, including the General Assembly and the Commission for Social Development. Their roles vary from country to country, but often include providing inputs to negotiations, organizing side events on youth-related topics, and making statements on behalf of their Member State.
  5. 5. Member States take the lead: The decision to have Youth Delegates and to establish a national Youth Delegate programme is made by each Member State. Member States independently select their delegates and determine the scope and length of their mandates.
  6. 6. Working together is essential: Simultaneously, UN DESA leverages its expertise in intergovernmental affairs to help Member States set up and strengthen their national YD programmes. UN DESA supplements Member States efforts, including by organizing meetings and sharing relevant resources, information, and invitations with Youth Delegates.

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