Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Reflecting on the World Youth Confernce

by Lloyd on 28.08.10
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Well what a week – we embarked on the first World Youth Conference for 12 years and while what may have come out be disappointing we have learnt a lot and must now build on the positive lessons.

You can read the governmental and NGO declaration here

A quick skim of the NGO statement and the governmental declaration will show that there is a large gap between young people globally and what the governments agreed to.

There are three key points which are watered down 1) Health and access to sexual and reproductive health services 2) The request rather than insistence of independent Youth Councils 3) conditions that standards can vary locally (a get out clause for everything).

We also were missing some key areas again 1) on sexual and reproductive rights 2) on recognising more than one gender (explicitly) 3) any mention of LGBT rights.

While we (the European Youth Delegates) achieve many minor victories – such as a mandate for the UN Inter-Agency Network for Youth Development and a “consideration” of youth rights, these were all too far between as as it was only Europe that had youth delegates also meant that it was hard to push on the around.

There is also some general un-thought out rubbish in the document such as the “professionalisation of youth work” without ever saying what that means. That’s just sloppy!
So were are we now: a document that is generally weaker than we had already agreed, a process that locked out and disenfranchised all but a few young people and a statement that will end up as a foot note in the pages of the UN General Assembly – so what do we do now?

Firstly we rest – for a few days anyway – governments have two months to sign and make reservations on the document, and this must be done though the foreign ministry.

We must go back and try (at least) to get governments to sign the document, as while it is incredibly week it can and will base the foundations of us moving forward and we must push forward from here.

Secondly we should ask governments where the document is too week to make reservations, make reservations that there is no mention of LGBT and other reservations that were outlined in the NGO letter to governments on the last day (see here).

The best reservation governments could make (which has already been made by a number of governments) is that the NGO declaration is not appended and that it should be fully recognised in the framework of cooperation and mutual dialogue.

After that is done NGOs need to learn for next time. We need to realise that 1) our statement is a lobby tool and needs to be backed up with a clear lobbying strategy – we need to prepare ways in which never again can young people be locked out of their own conference – providing free concerts for the young while governments decided their fate.

We need to work towards over 50% of delegations to include young people and also that we have a campaign strategy outside as well as inside the negotiation room so we can exert pressure and make sure that we get out points across.

When will next time be? We will see, it could be next year or another 12 years – but let us be prepared and let us move forward with a coordinated and united youth.


  • Some very valid points there, Lloyd.

    I SO wish we could have spent just as much time on developing a clear lobby strategy for the Governments forum as on getting participants there. However, I am afraid that any approach to make the governments declaration more progressive would anyway be turned down – not by the governments in general but by Mexico as the facilitator and host.

    The Mexican government was really just not at all prepared for anything like the language in the NGO Statement to happen. And when the screaming and insisting of other governments did not make them realise their mistakes I am afraid our screaming would also not help so much…

    What we should add on the positive note is that the conference worked as a tool to strengthen our cooperation with youth-led movements around the globe – as well as with institutional partners. And a learning process – not only for us but definitely also both for Governments and the UN. We have educated very many ministries and NGOs on which tools and processes actually exist.

    And hopefully we can get a more strategic conference in the framework of the UN International Year of Youth 🙂

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Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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