Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 represent approximately 18 per cent of today’s global population, signifying the largest youth cohort in history. They are increasingly mobilizing and impacting social policy dialogue within their communities as well as at the global level.
Active youth participation at the United Nations is a critical contribution to successful international cooperation. The underlying principle of youth participation in the work of the Organization 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 Programme is the focal point within the United Nations system in the area of youth development and matters related to young people, particularly in relation to the priority areas identified in the World Programme of Action for Youth
The Youth Delegate programme is coordinated by the Focal Point on Youth at the global level, but it is the responsibility of the Member States to establish a youth delegate programme at the national level, and to decide who will represent the young people of their country. The roles of a youth representative varies from country to country, but normally includes providing input to their delegation on issues related to youth and participate in their delegation’s general work through attending meetings and informal negotiations.
Participation in decision-making is one of the key priority areas of the United Nations agenda on youth. One mechanism of youth participation at the United Nations is through the inclusion of Youth Delegates in a country’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and various functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council. Including 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. Listening to youth and making them full partners in the decision-making process can help Governments enact more effective and legitimate policies and programmes, especially with regard to youth issues.
“By including young people in national delegations to United Nations meetings, Governments help them gain a better understanding of the intricacies of negotiations, the challenges of achieving consensus and the patience required to win diplomatic progress. These skills help young people no matter what course they choose in life. Moreover, the time spent representing the youth of their countries in the international arena can also inspire and encourage young people to participate more deeply at home, in the political life of their own societies, thereby counteracting the immense social costs of excluding young people.” — Ban Ki-moon
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. Youth delegates also spread awareness and knowledge about the work of the United Nations to young people in their home countries, making them important actors in promoting the aims and principles of the Organization.
In Ukraine, the Youth Delegate to the UN Program was established in October 2014 and first Ukrainian Youth Delegates participated in the 69th session of the UN General Assembly. The Program was initiated by Viktoriia Shvydchenko and Viktoriya Luchka and was made possible thanks to the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation. Since 2018 the program is implemented by the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation.
The main partners of the program are Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine.
The Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation is a private foundation created by the wife and children of Dr. Bohdan Hawrylyshyn in 2017. The co-founders together with the foundation’s team continue to run various youth programs, which have been operational since 2009. The mission of the Foundation is to empower young aspiring changemakers to build a sustainable value-based Ukraine.
Main programs of the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation are:
Ukrainian Youth Delegates to the UN — the program enables the youth of Ukraine to be officially represented in Ukraine’s delegation to the UN General Assembly.
Young Generation Will Change Ukraine — a country-wide program for active youth that aims to transform the country through the study and implementation of European experience and projects. Participants are encouraged to learn from the experience of European nations, and think about how this could help to affect change in Ukraine.
Bohdan Hawrylyshyn (1926-2016) was a world-renowned economist, visionary, and philanthropist. He was a member of the Club of Rome, and of the World Academy of Arts and Science, a co-founder of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and founder of MIM-Kyiv Business School. He acted as a consultant to countries and multinational companies and was an advisor to the first President of Ukraine, and to 4 speakers of Parliament and 3 Ukrainian prime ministers. He believed in the great potential of Ukraine and helped to develop it.
In Ukraine, Youth Delegate to the UN Program aims at:
- Activating and supporting youth movement in Ukraine;
- Introducing young people to the principles of the United Nations’ work;
- Establishing a dialogue between Ukrainian government and youth;
- Increasing youth representation in the governmental structures;
- Educating active and talented youth interested in international relations, United Nations and diplomacy;
- Representing effectively Ukrainian youth on a global level;
- Promoting Ukraine as a progressive and active participant of international processes;
- Raising awareness about the latest world trends in youth policy and UN youth policy specifically;
- Developing global youth strategy within the United Nations’ system in the best interest of Ukrainian youth
Costs related to travel and stay in New York City in 2014 — 2018 were covered by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation.
Length of Term: 1 year
First year includes participation in the UN General Assembly sessions ( Third Committee — Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs) and ECOSOC Youth Forum (the latter depends on funding). After your first year, you will be providing mentorship for the next generation of Youth Delegates.
United Nations General Assembly (October — November)
ECOSOC Youth Forum (February)
Commission for Social Development (CSocD) (February)
International Youth Conferences
UN-related conferences with a special focus on youth and/or sustainable development
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (MFA) acts as a liaison between the Delegate and the Embassy of the United States in Kyiv, Ukraine. MFA submits relevant documentation (note verbale) and passport of the candidate to the Embassy. This allows Youth Delegate to travel to the United States with a G2 visa (in order to get accreditation from UN Headquarters), which is valid for the time of Youth Delegate’s work at the UN. Upon arrival in the UN Headquarters in New York, the Youth Delegate is given a red D badge which allows the Delegate to participate in the sessions of Committees, informals and consultations. You can learn more about UN ground passes (badges) at UN PGA Handbook under Section “Badges” at page 32.
Before the General Assembly:
1. Identifying issues ( June — October )
Before traveling to the United Nations, a newly elected youth representative needs to commence the national consultation campaign in order to meet with young people, NGOs, initiative groups nationwide both in rural as well as in the urban areas. Such meetings will enable the Youth Delegate to gather solid information on what the issues of Ukrainian youth are. One of the objectives of the Youth Delegate is to engage with the youth that comes from marginalized groups. While having meetings with the young people nationwide, the Delegate gathers information which can be communicated to various stakeholders on a national and international levels.
The aforementioned activities are thoroughly planned and coordinated with Program managers and Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation. After finishing the national consultation campaign, Youth Delegate needs to prepare a brief report and a blogpost about his/her experiences of learning about youth issues in Ukraine.
2. Reaching out to Program managers and former Youth Delegates
Communication with Program Managers and former Youth Delegates is very important in order for the new Youth Delegates to get a better understanding of the Program. Talking to the former Youth Delegates is a great way of getting information on best practices and tips for successful work on the youth issues at the UN and Ukraine. Mentorship and support will be provided to you at any point of your 1-year Mandate. Communication between Program managers and Youth Delegates must be regular; strategic decisions need to be negotiated both with the Program managers and sponsoring foundation.
3. Connecting with other Youth Delegates
Delegates may participate in Advocacy Training organized by European Youth Forum in Brussels in July, prior to their trip to the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Youth Delegates also join other Delegates in online consultations through social media for sharing ideas on both their upcoming activities at the UN as well as the program itself. It’s very common that Youth Delegates cooperate via online platforms and plan together side events to be organized at the UN or at their respective Permanent Missions to the UN. Facebook groups like UN Youth Delegates 2015-2016 are great for reaching out to the newly elected Youth Delegates worldwide before you get to meet them at the UN HQ in October.
4. Meetings with key stakeholders and officials
Before the departure in October, newly elected Delegates meet with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to become familiar the resources this state agency offers to the program. Moreover, Delegates will be given diplomatic directives of what Ukraine’s Permanent Mission’s priorities for this year are. Delegates are also supposed to have a series of the following official meetings: a meeting with the United Nations in Ukraine, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation and meeting with Program managers before departure. During the meeting with the sponsoring foundation and Program managers Youth Delegates will be given guidelines on their work at the UN; detailed program reporting requirements and mechanisms; financial reporting mechanisms to the Foundation.
5. Program promotion
As negotiated with Program managers and Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation, Youth Delegates make TV and radio appearances, informing audience about the importance of youth participation in the decision-making processes; share their thoughts on youth engagement at the United Nations and upcoming plans within the mandate year on the Program’s blogpost; actively use social media to raise awareness about a particular youth issue.
While at the UN
Upon the arrival of the Youth Delegates to New York, Ukrainian Permanent Mission to the UN provides a short briefing to clarify Delegates’ role in the Mission and as Experts to the Official Delegation of Ukraine. That typically includes a meeting with the Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Delegates closely cooperate with a person from the Mission who is in charge of the Third Committee of UN General Assembly and acts as a Delegate’s supervisor. The United Nations Program on Youth also provides an orientation to the United Nations system that is open to all national youth delegates.
The main focus of a Youth Delegate’s work is usually the processes that take place in the Third Committee of the General Assembly that deliberates on social, cultural and humanitarian issues. Youth Delegates regularly deliver statements on issues of concern to young people on their behalf or on behalf of their Governments. The agenda of the General Assembly, including that of its Third Committee, is available in the late summer at http://www.un.org/ga. Very often the youth delegates liaise with youth representatives from other countries to exchange information and build upon their experiences. They may be invited to speak at various side events or panel discussions organized by their mission, the United Nations Secretariat, or non-governmental organizations. In recent years, youth delegates have also jointly organized side events on issues of global concern to youth development.
Everyday work of Youth Delegates normally includes attending Third Committee sessions and writing weekly reports for the Mission; attending and organizing side-events on youth issues; delivering speeches on behalf of Ukraine or in their own capacity; translating documents or note verbales; attending networking events.
When Returning Home:
After returning back to Ukraine, Youth Delegate engages in a wide range of report-back activities. Upon arrival, the Delegate provides a detailed report on his/her activities at the UN, including side events he/she organized. The Delegate is expected to make at least 2 blog posts while at the UN General Assembly and 1 blog post when returning home. The same requirement applies to the Delegate during his work on ECOSOC Youth Forum in February. The Delegate initiates meetings with the Program managers, sponsoring foundation and the United Nations on Ukraine where he/she shares his/her experience of working at the United Nations. Youth Delegate also presents the project that he/she is going to work on during the mandate year based on the specific focus of his mandate. The Delegate also makes TV appearances to speak about his/her experience as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations and raise awareness on youth participation in the decision-making process. Youth Delegate keeps the official Facebook program page and program’s blog active throughout the year and uses it for keeping young people informed on activities and information which is important for them. The Delegate shall also organize a youth conference/seminar and is free to choose the specific topic for it. The Delegate is usually invited to number of events as a speaker to address the Ukrainian youth issues highlighted in his/her mandate. At the end of the Mandat year (May- June), the Delegate prepares a report on his/her activities and submits it to the Program managers and Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation. An evaluation session is held to assess all the work that has been done and identify Program outcomes.
Youth at the United Nations
Young People as one of the top Priorities of the UN Secretary-General’s Five-year Action Agenda
UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Workplan
Youth Delegate to the UN Program
About Youth Delegate to the United Nations Program
How to establish a Youth Delegate to the United Nations Program
Practical Guides to the UN General Assembly
A Practical Guide to the United Nations General Assembly (2011)
Guide to Youth Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly
A Brief Guide to the Youth Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly (2006)
Youth Delegate’s Report on his/her work at the UN General Assembly
Report of Swiss Youth Representative 2012 Mattia Zanazzi on the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly