UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the President of the General Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, have called on leaders to recommit to youth empowerment for a better future.
The top UN officials made the call on Wednesday, August 12 in separate messages on the occasion of the International Youth Day 2020 with the theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.
In his message, Guterres said the theme underscored the contributions of young people towards realisation of the “values and vision of the United Nations Charter”.
He praised the resilience, resourcefulness and engagement of the youth in spite of the adverse effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on their lives and aspirations.
“Some have lost their lives, and many have seen family members and other loved ones perish.
“A generation’s very formation has been jeopardised, their steps towards adulthood, identity and self-sufficiency thrown off course.
“But this generation is also resilient, resourceful and engaged. They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action.
“They are mobilising for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world.
“They are peace builders promoting social cohesion at a time of social distancing, advancing an end to violence globally and advocating harmony at a time of rising hatred.
“Realising the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people’s inclusion, participation, organisations and initiatives,” he said.
The UN Chief called on leaders around the world “to do everything possible” to enable young people to realise their potential.
For his part, the UNGA president described them as the “trail-blazers of progress”, inspiring and creating change as entrepreneurs, activists and community leaders.
Muhammad-Bande, who is Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, noted that the vision and commitment of young people were critical to the creation of a more sustainable and inclusive world.
“The 1.2 billion young people living worldwide are both rights bearers and active agents in the realization of our universal human rights.
“It is your right, and our global responsibility, to ensure that people everywhere have access to just and equitable opportunities to fulfill their rights and aspirations.
“The potential for humanity to create a peaceful, prosperous future will not be reached as long as inequities and discrimination against youth remain commonplace, and young people lack opportunities to have their voices heard.
“As we celebrate International Youth Day, let us acknowledge the amazing contribution young people are making to the improvement of our world.
“We should commit to empowering our young citizens to create change at the local, national and global levels,” he said.
By Harrison Arubu