YMCA calls United Nations to more Accountability and Engagement with Youth

Date: 22 February 2013

Samuel Díaz Fernández Littauer from the World YMCA at the United Nations in New York City.

On February 11, 2013 Samuel Díaz Fernández Littauer from the World YMCA Youth Empowerment Team, spoke passionately on behalf of youth and youth organisations of the world during the 51st Session of the Commission for Social Development at the United Nations in New York City. This year’s priority theme was ‘Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all’—a topic that strikes at the core of the YMCA work and vision of youth empowerment.

As one of four invited speakers (pdf file) called to serve on the High-Level Panel for Youth, the World YMCA made recommendations on the report published by the UN Secretary General (SG) on the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) (pdf file)
In the speech, the YMCA, who was also representing the ICMYO (a network of youth organizations reaching over 150 million young people), welcomed the report as a positive gesture in advancing the youth agenda.
However, the speech was highly critical of the level of commitment the United Nations and its member states have shown young people to the present day.
Other concerns raised in the speech focused on:
–         The low number of countries (21 of 193 member states, only 11%) that reported on the WPAY. This shows that there is still very low interest and commitment to make youth a priority in the development agenda.
–         The need for more representation, particularly in the forms of an advisory council around the new UN Envoy and a permanent forum for youth.
–         The need for more coherence and consistency from the United Nations as they engage with youth organizations and young people. If the UN and governments want young people to engage more then they need to increase their credibility through action and not just words.
When the speech ended the YMCA’s words were applauded loudly by the commission—a rare thing in any UN setting. This message was also strongly supported by other ICMYO youth organizations who were there such as Pax Romana and the European Youth Forum.

YMCA friends at the UN. (From Left to Right) Ravi Karkara (UN-Habitat), Jerry Den Haan (European Youth Forum), Christopher Dekki (Pax Romana), Vania Freitas (European Youth Forum), Samuel Díaz Fernández (World YMCA), Maya Saoud (Pax Romana)

You can also read and share the transcript of the speech in pdf format.
We encourage you to share it with YMCA friends, family, and all people who are fighting for youth empowerment around the world!
Watch and listen to Samuel’s speech at:

51 minutes 48 seconds to 1 hour 11 minutes 57 seconds

Read some of the resolutions of the UN commission

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World E-News February 2013 – Pdf version