Speech of the German Youth Delegates
New York, October 9th, 2007
Mr Chairman, distinguished Delegates, fellow Youth Delegates,
In 2007 two special events shaped the thoughts of young people in Germany and around the world: In June the G8 summit took place in Heiligendamm, and this year we passed the half-time of the Millennium Development Goals!
Under the guiding concept of “Growth and Responsibility�? the heads of the G8 Summit discussed issues such as development in Africa, HIV/AIDS and climate protection. All around Germany and around the world, especially we, the young people, gathered in alternative summits to raise our concerns: What do we mean when we talk about equality in the world? Are we unwilling to fulfill our promises to erase poverty? Are we unable to achieve a basic education for everyone? We as young people believe that states must work towards multilateral solutions to face these challenges, and that they have to do so within the inclusive system of the UN.
This year, the Millennium Development Goals reached their half time. All heads of states decided to achieve these 8 goals by 2015. The half time has passed now, but we still have more than half of the way to go! As young people we are critical; however, we do believe that it is possible to achieve the MDGs. We young people will not just STAND UP on October 17th with millions of people around the world for the MDGs. We STAND UP every day with our own contributions in countless youth-led organizations and initiatives to change the world we are living in!
Our way to come to New York as German Youth Delegates was long. We spent 6 months and 25.000 km travelling in order to meet thousands of young people of diverse educational, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds to discuss the issues of the World Programme of Action for Youth and the MDGs. We listened to their wishes, feelings and demands.
Mr. Chairman, on our tour through Germany we met young people, who raised their voice because they cannot understand and do not want to accept the present situation: Why does it depend on my social or family background to determine my success in secondary school and university, if accessible at all? Why does one child die every 17 seconds from water born diseases?
Young people especially raised their voices to ask for equal opportunities:
They request equal opportunities in education. 113 million young people in the world do not at all have the opportunity to sit on a school bench. Within most countries the educational success heavily depends on social and family background. Especially disabled young people, migrants and minorities become marginalized and socially excluded through the lack of opportunities in their first years of life! For instance, young Roma do not just constitute the biggest, but the most discriminated minority of Europe. They continue to be segregated and discriminated in many school systems in Germany and other countries. Young people will be able to better use their potential if nation states, civil society and private sector start investing now in formal and non-formal education.
Young people request equal opportunities to develop their personality and capacity in a world without hunger and poverty. In Europe almost one out of five children and youth up to 18 years, live in relative poverty. Around the world 250 million young people live on less than a dollar per day. These young people have fewer opportunities to achieve quality education and to find decent work. They face great danger in remaining in the cycle of poverty.
Young people request equal opportunities to benefit from globalization. Mobility for education and employment has become essential for the capacity-building of young people. International youth exchange has become a core means to fight racism and to struggle for peace. However, because of visa restrictions just few young people can benefit. For many, mobility as migration is a result of desperation. For the ones that do not die crossing our well-secured borders, we make sure that they face illegality or marginalization.
Young people request equal opportunities and empowerment, because they want to take responsibility. Young people are ready to shape their environment and to commit for equality. However, to fulfill their dreams they need empowerment to develop their own abilities and capacity. The potential, the creativity and the power of young people to contribute to society and economy, is the biggest resource we have in this world.
Youth-led organizations and young people are often one step ahead of politics. Exactly 100 years ago, while no politician was concerned about youth policy, young boy and girl scouts started the first and largest youth movement worldwide to empower young people and to contribute to society. Politics today has to create an environment which facilitates the development and the formal and non-formal education of young people. They should also include youth and youth-led organizations to generate this environment. Youth participation in politics shall not be an inflationarily used phrase but reality. Around the world the inclusion of Youth Delegates at the UN GA shall serve as a role model for youth participation on local, regional and national level.
Mr. Chairman, as German Youth Delegates we are honoured to have the opportunity to adress the international community today. We want to express concerns, wishes and hopes of young people in this distinguished round.
Concluding our statement we are now specifying some of these concerns:
We the young people request a strong and sincere commitment to achieve the MDGs by 2015. As half-time has passed by, we call upon all Member States to increase their efforts and contributions in order to keep their promises. We also urge the full and effective ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We the young people call upon all Member States to provide equal opportunities to all young people to benefit from education, decent work and globalization and to erase hunger and poverty. We remind you that every dollar invested in edcuation is a much better and a much more sustainable contribution to national and international peace and security than any dollar of military spending.
We the young people demand a strong commitment for the empowerment of young people, through establishing adequate mechanisms that allow youth and youth-led organizations to participate effectively. This includes a strong commitment to the new UN Habitat Youth Fund, which focuses on youth-led microprojects. We also encourage Goverments to support the non-formal education work of youth-led organizations.
We the young people call upon you, honorable delegates, to adopt the supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth, as it addresses new challenges young people face. We also urge you to adopt the proposed goals and targets, as currently presented in the 3rd Committee. It is crucial to make the progress in the implementation of the WPAY measurable.
We the young people state clearly that we are ready to take responsibilities in our societies and to tackle worldwide problems. We want empowerment now, not only because children and young people are the future, we are the present!
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.