Youth as Agents for Change
International Youth Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 17, 1999 in its resolution 54/120, affirming the crucial role of youth participation in political, economic and social change. This day provides an opportunity to raise awareness on the challenges and unique needs of youth, particularly considering that they are key agents for change.
Despite the influence of young people on social movements worldwide, including protests against authoritarian regimes, inequalities, as well as fighting diligently for sustainable development, young women and men continue to be excluded from decision making processes and their inclusion in formal politics is limited.
Hence, in celebration of International Youth Day, it is imperative to recognize the impact of young individuals and encourage new initiatives and action taken by the youth. In that framework, the theme of International Youth Day 2021 is : “Transforming Food Systems : Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” with the general objective of highlighting that a successful global effort is only successful with the meaningful participation of the youth.
Hence, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls for concerted and a united effort to ensure the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 11 which stresses on sustainable urbanization by providing public spaces for young people that enables them to interact with their communities and engage in a constructive dialogue between generations.
That requires governments and institutions to provide the youth with access to engagement opportunities in varied sectors and ensure their involvement in decision making spaces, to achieve an inclusive and sustainable development for all. It is important that we acknowledge the potential of the youth as active partners in the global society and mainstream their voices.
On this day, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls on the concerned authorities to take the necessary measures at the national level to ensure the protection and implementation of youth rights. Moreover, the Institute stresses on the involvement of youth organizations in the development, implementation and monitoring of policies and programs that affect the youth, as well as ensure their inclusion in decision making processes and policy spaces.
Finally, States must provide an enabling and safe environment that encourages youth participation and ensures the full respect of their right to freedom of opinion and expression, right to access information, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.