UN Youth Delegates (YDs) are young people who officially represent the interests of the youth of their country at the United Nations. They are selected to accompany their government’s diplomatic delegation to the UN meetings.
The underlying principle of youth participation in the work of the United Nations is that it leads to better policy and programmatic responses to the problems facing young people today. The United Nations recognizes that young people around the world are both a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation. The inclusion of young people in official delegations to intergovernmental meetings not only enriches the debate and policy dialogue, but also strengthens existing channels of communication and cooperation between Governments and young people. Moreover, upon return to their home countries, youth delegates often promote continued progress in the development and implementation of youth policies at the national level and encourage other young people to participate more fully in the development of their communities and nations.
Including UNA-UNYA Youth Delegates in the Italian government delegation to the United Nations General Assembly makes Italy one of the successful cases of implementation of the United Nations Youth Delegate Programme, and confirms the Italian full commitment to the work of the United Nations, not only as a 60 years long Member State, as re-elected member of ECOSOC and as non-permanent member to the United Nations Security Council, but also as a promoter of youth at UN level.
“The creativity, energy and passion of young people are indispensable for tackling global challenges. An important mechanism for the participation of young people in the work in the United Nations is the Youth Delegates Programme. It creates civic role models for young people around the world and brings new perspectives to discussions in the General Assembly.”
UN youth policy from 1995 to present
The World Programme of Action for Youth, adopted by the General Assembly in 1995, on the tenth anniversary of the first International Youth Year, focuses on increasing the quality and quantity of opportunities available to young people for full, effective and constructive participation in society. The WPAY initially identified 10 priority areas to guide policy and action regarding youth development extended to 15 in 2007, these are:
Hunger and poverty
Girls and young women
Information and communication technologies
Youth and conflict
In particular, it invites Governments to strengthen the involvement of young people in international forums by considering the inclusion of youth representatives in their national delegations to the General Assembly (General Assembly resolution 50/81, paragraph 107). This invitation has been renewed several times in subsequent resolutions (52/83, 54/120, 56/117, 58/133, 59/148, 60/2, 62/126).
The attention and commitment of the United Nations in urging States to implement effective and feasible actions for and with young people are always constant. In 2013 the Secretary General created the role of Envoy on Youth to advocate for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to bring the work of the United Nations with and for youth closer to them; in 2015 UN adopted the Security Council Resolution 2250 on “Youth, Peace and Security”; it recognized the role of young people with the adoption of the Youth2030 Strategy, which places them at the heart of present and future strategies and which led to the establishment of the UN Youth Office in New York in 2022.
Moreover, young people have been a major stakeholder (Major Group for Children and Youth) during the Post-2015 Development Agenda negotiation and are considered central advocates for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What are UN Youth Delegates?
The role of a youth delegate to United Nations intergovernmental meetings differs from country to country.
Youth delegates may participate in several intergovernmental meetings at the United Nations. Most official youth delegates participate in the General Assembly, but some also attend functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council.
The Italian YDs attend the UN General Assembly.
As part of the delegation, YDs generally attend the formal sessions of the chosen UN body and they are usually allowed to hold a speech. They participate in formal and informal consultations with regular diplomats, cooperate with YDs from other countries in writing or amending draft resolutions relevant to youth issues. Together with the YDs of other countries they write “youth newsletters” which they distribute to the diplomats of the 193 countries present. They organize so called “side-events”, i.e. meetings, where they invite diplomats and inform them about the situation of young people pertaining to a certain policy issue (e.g. Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Youth Unemployment).
After returning from New York they write reports for Ministries, NGOs and youth organisations, attend follow-up meetings with the youth delegates from other European countries, meet civil servants, youth activists, NGOs, heads of youth organisations, parliamentarians, local politicians and many representatives of the press. Finally, they participate in the selection procedure for the youth delegates of the following year.
HOW TO BECOME THE NEXT ITALIAN YOUTH DELEGATE
Age: 20 – 27
Language: Fluency in Italian and English languages is required. Knowledge of any other official languages of the United Nations (Russian, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese) is very desirable but not a must. Enclosing copies of official language certificates, such as TOEFL, IELTS, DELF/DALF, DELE etc. is very welcome
Education: Graduates as well as students can apply. Candidates should have passed exams/tests on International Law and UN system and/or should have interned for UN or the Italian Diplomatic missions
Relevant experience: Participation in SIOI activities (desirable)
Experience in working/volunteering/interning in youth organizations (ex. UNYA – Italy);
Professed interest in international relations, youth policy and the United Nations in particular;
Important note: even though BA or MA degree in International Relations/Political Science/Law is desirable, students from all educational backgrounds are encouraged to apply
Interest in United Nation system and actions, international affairs, civic engagement, youth issues.
Passionate about solving today’s most pressing problems and working to engage young people in this important agenda.
Intellectually curious and able to have meaningful conversations with high-level individuals.
Experienced public speaker.
Ability to work collaboratively with others.
Talented writer, capable of digesting lots of information and quickly turning around blog posts, tweets, and newsletter articles to inform other youth on their experience.
Digitally engaged and tech-savvy, with a knack for communicating online in creative and effective ways.
Most importantly they should have time and energy to spare as being a Youth Delegate in Italy!