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At a glance: United States of America

At New York launch, International Year of Youth kicks off with a diversity of voices

By Ravi Karkara

In proclaiming the International Year of Youth, which runs from 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011, the United Nations called on governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support activities for children. Here is a related story.

NEW YORK, USA, 12 August 2010 – Members of the international community marked the launch of the International Year of Youth today in the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an eclectic array of speeches, musical performances, videos and poetry. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon helped to kick off the Year under the theme 'Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’.

VIDEO: 12 August 2010 - Kicking off the International Year of Youth.


The Year aims to promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and solidarity across cultures, religions, civilizations and generations.

“In a world in which different peoples and traditions are coming into closer, more frequent contact than ever before, it is crucial that young  people learn how to listen intently, empathize with others, acknowledge divergent opinions, and be able to  resolve conflicts,” said Mr. Ban at the launch.

Strengthening work for youth

The Secretary-General called for bolstered efforts “to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours.” In addition to Mr. Ban, the event was addressed by world leaders including Tunisia’s Minister of Youth, Sport and Physical Education, Samir Laabidi, and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Benin to the United Nations Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0178/Pirozzi
Three girls smile at an adolescent-friendly space in the West Bank. The International Year of Youth provides an opportunity for the participation of the world's young people in the issues that affect them.

Sha Zukang of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs presented background information on the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, an association devoted to strengthening the effectiveness of the UN’s work on youth. UN Population Fund Executive Director Thoraya Obaid delivered a joint statement of the heads of UN entities, demonstrating the support of the UN system for youth development. The Director of the International Labour Organization Office in New York, Jane Stewart, launched a new report entitled ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth.’

Youth representative Maya Saoud and American actress, singer and dancer Monique Coleman also spoke during the launch. Chris Bashinelli, Executive Director of ‘Bridge the Gap TV’ – an internationally recognized reality Internet series about sustainable development and cross-cultural exchange – moderated the event. 

Opportunity for participation

Worldwide, there are more than 1.2 billion people been the ages of 15 and 24, accounting for about 18 per cent of the global population. The International Year of Youth presents an opportunity to highlight the contributions that youth are making to society, as well as to advance their full and effective participation in the issues that affect them.

© UNICEF/2010/Karkara
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launches the International Year of Youth at the UN General Assembly Hall.

To this end, thematic performances at today’s launch included a musical performance by young group The Bonde, a slideshow of winning photographs from the  youth photography competition ‘Shoot Nations,’ a progressive poetry performance, a dance performance  by the non-governmental organization ‘Move for Autism’ and videos on youth-related issues.

A related exhibit entitled ‘Visual Voices: youth perspectives on global issues’ will be available for public viewing in the UN Visitor’s Lobby from 2 August to 10 September 2010.



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