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Summary: EU Presidency Statement – 10th Anniversary of World Programme of Action for Youth (6 October 2005: New York)
EU Presidency Statement on Item 62, Tenth Anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth, by Kristofer McGhee, United Kingdom Youth Delegate, on behalf of the European Union Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York
I have the honour, in my capacity as United Kingdom Youth Delegate to the 10th Anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth, to present this statement on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA country Norway - member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
1. The European Union warmly welcomes this opportunity to join with 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 recognises the many challenges that remain - challenges that were highlighted in the ten priority areas of the World Programme of Action, as well as the five new areas identified in the 2003 World Youth Report. 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.
2. 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. Meeting the Millennium Development Goals will shape the world in which today's children will reach adulthood, and many 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 UN organisation for young people and pays tribute to UNICEF for driving this agenda forward.
3. The European Union welcomes the fact that youth issues are also being addressed in other international fora. In July this year, the G8 Heads of State and Government committed to "support youth employment in Africa for both men and women, including vocational education and training relevant to market demands." And we look forward to the ILO's forthcoming plan of action for youth and the World Bank's 2007 World Development Report, which will also focus on youth. There is growing recognition of the development opportunities, as well as the challenges, presented by the huge number of young people who will soon move into adult life.
4. The European Union remains committed to the biggest social challenge of the 21st 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.
5. But further progress must be made. The European Union calls upon all donors to move speedily towards the goal of 0.7% of their GNI for development assistance, and for developing country governments to prepare ambitious national poverty reduction strategies which recognise 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 the development of policy relating to those strategies.
6. 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. There is now widespread international consensus that the promotion of decent and productive work should be a fundamental component of poverty reduction and development strategies. Decent work is the most effective route 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 youth unemployment as one of Europe's top priorities.
7. 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 both from developed and developing countries. Practical implementation on the ground will be of critical importance in the coming year.
8. 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 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 which will enable all young people - girls and boys - to attain decent work as a first step towards competing effectively in today's global economy.
9. The European Union fully recognises the critical contribution that young people can make to decision-making. The capacity of young people to participate meaningfully in programmes and activities that affect them should be strengthened, and opportunities identified for them to put forward their views on matters that concern them, alongside other groups in society. Again, 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.
10. 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.
11. In addition to its continued strong support of the ten 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 2003 World Youth Report. The spread of HIV/AIDS and the disproportionate involvement of young people in violent conflict, both as perpetrators and victims, has marginalised many young people from society. The discrimination and negative stereotyping, to which girls and young women are subjected, remain pressing concerns. Action to address all these issues must be a priority. The EU also recognises the other new issues identified - globalisation; the increased use of information and communication technologies and the importance of addressing intergenerational issues in an ageing society. 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.
12. The 2005 World Youth Report contains some encouraging messages. But it also presents some tough challenges. Some 200 million young people live in poverty. 88 million are unemployed and 10 million are living with HIV/AIDS. These figures present an overwhelming case for a renewed commitment by all Member States to the goals of the Programme of Action for Youth. And so that we can assess the outcomes of that action, the European Union supports the Secretary-General's proposal to draw up a set of verifiable indicators which will enable us to measure future progress.
13. And, of course, all this needs to happen with the full and effective participation of young people. We must be recognised 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.
Thank you Mr President.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.