Empowering Today's Young People. (the World Youth Forum)

Article excerpt

The fourth session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System took place in Dakar, Senegal from 6 to 10 August 2001. Organized by the United Nations and the Senegalese National Youth Council, the Forum addressed the challenges young people face today and sought ways to enable them to communicate their concerns and hopes. It adopted the Dakar Youth Empowerment Strategy, which contains recommendations and tools to broaden young people's involvement in their societies.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his message, emphasized the fight against AIDS and unemployment. He observed that every minute, five persons between the ages of 10 and 24 are infected with HIV. He also pointed out that about 70 million young people were unemployed around the world and called upon Governments and international organizations for support. "Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation", the Secretary-General said. "Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. ... Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies."

During the Forum, ten working groups reviewed the progress and obstacles of the implementation of the Braga Youth Action Plan, adopted at the third World Youth Forum, and the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. Youth delegates and UN representatives of the working groups also strove to identify new opportunities to empower young people and made recommendations in the following areas: education and information and communications technology; employment; health and population; hunger, poverty and debt; environment and human settlements; social integration; culture of peace; youth policy, participation and rights; young women and girls; and youth, sports and leisure-time activities.

Donald Charumbira, Secretary-General of the World Assembly of Youth and Chairperson of the fourth session, said the Forum was "a landmark meeting with the important task of drafting the Dakar Youth Empowerment Strategy as a set of concrete recommendations for youth empowerment". …