United Nations General Assembly: International Year of Youth


As a part of the International Year of Youth the general assembly held a high level meeting on youth from July 25th to 26th 2011. The theme of the meeting was Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.

During the opening session the UN Secretary –General, Ban Ki-moon, captured the attention of the youth with his question “Are we doing enough for you?” To which the youth responded with a resounding no. His follow up question of “Can we do more for you?” opened the platform for discussion on how to achieve more for our youth population.

Among all the many extra ordinary panelists, there were a few who stood out such as (their names and titles). These panelists put the spotlight on youth potential by moving beyond the stereotypical issues that government officials frequently focus on.

As the discussion flowed between government dignitaries, Youth Representatives, and humanitarians, it was clear that key issues were emerging. One of the main issues brought to the forefront was the need to recognize that Youth is not only the foundation of tomorrow, but an active force in today’s world. Youth need to be a part of the current leadership process; not relegated to the sidelines while an ambiguous future is formed. As Mr. Romulo Dantas said “There is nothing about us without us.

The recognition that youth need to be involved now spurned numerous government officials to propose the formation of a UN youth committee. One of the proposed purposes of the youth committee will be to document the outcome of the High Level Youth Meeting; thus creating dialogue and accountability between youth and world leaders. It is our teams’ belief that such a committee will be highly beneficial in elevating youth to leadership roles.

The UN Meeting offered a promising start to make our leadership structure relevant in the world today – a world where the population of many countries is 60-80% youth. We youth are a vital, vibrant resource to our planet, and it’s time for us to step forward and shine. For as His Excellency (his name) the President of the Republic of Benin stated “youth idealism and their great willingness to take risks…creates an immense force for change.

During the meeting, it was encouraging to see that many of the speakers addressed the necessity to cultivate the values of dignity, cooperation, tolerance, equality, courage and many others. Hearing them speak of these values reinforced the significance of the Spotlight Values program, through which dialogue and mutual understanding is achieved among youth.

*Spotlight Values team representatives: Kinnari, Kristina, Dominique, Lekha, and Aarti

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