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UN kicks-off International Year of Youth

International Year of Youth
Focus of the Year is dialogue and mutual understanding

12 August 2010: At New York launch, International Year of Youth kicks off with a diversity of voices.

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 August 2010 - The International Year of Youth, which runs from 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011, was launched yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an eclectic event of speeches, musical performances, videos and poetry. Themed "Dialogue and Mutual Understanding", the year aims to promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions and civilisations.

In a message issued on the occasion, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “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, empathise with others, acknowledge divergent opinions, and be able to resolve conflicts.”

In kicking-off the year, Secretary-General Ban called for strengthening efforts “to include young people in policies, programs and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours.”

A diversity of voices

Youth representative Maya Saoud and American actress, singer and dancer Monique Coleman also spoke at the launch together with other dignitaries and UN officials, including UN Population Fund Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, International Labour Organization New York Director, Jane Stewart and UN Economic and Social Affairs's Sha Zukang.

Chris Bashinelli, Executive Director of ‘Bridge the Gap TV’ – an internationally recognised reality Internet series about sustainable development and cross-cultural exchange – moderated the event.

Thematic performances at the 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 organisation ‘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.

Challenges and opportunities

There are more than 1.2 billion young people aged between 15 and 24 years in the world, accounting for about 18 per cent of the world population. The International Year of Youth presents an opportunity to highlight the contributions that youth are making to society, and to advance their full and effective participation.

Developing countries are home to 87 per cent of youth who face challenges of limited access to resources, healthcare, education, training, employment and economic opportunities.

As the world confronts many, often overlapping, crises, including financial and other socio-economic challenges, investing in and partnering with youth is key to finding sustainable solutions.

By adopting resolution 64/134 proclaiming the Year, UN Member States confirmed the importance the international community places on integrating youth-related issues into global, regional, and national development agendas. To guide its efforts during the Year, the UN is focusing on three overarching objectives: (1) Increasing commitment and investment in youth; (2) Increasing youth participation and partnerships and (3) Increasing intercultural understanding among youth.



In 1985, the UN celebrated the first International Year of Youth. On its tenth anniversary, the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth, setting a policy framework and guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people. Today, the World Programme of Action for Youth plays a prominent role in youth development. It focuses on strengthening national capacities in the field of youth and on increasing the quality and quantity of participation opportunities available to them. The United Nations Programme on Youth serves as the UN focal point on youth. It undertakes a range of activities to promote youth development, including increasing the effectiveness of the Organization’s work in youth development by strengthening collaboration and exchange among UN entities through the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development.

YOUth and youth-focused organisations are encouraged to initiate and participate in activities celebrating the Year, by subscribing to the monthly e-newsletter of the UN, Youth Flash at, downloading advocacy materials from the official website at and by joining the monthly consultation on

International Year of Youth
For more information on the International Year of Youth, visit

For substantive matters, please contact either Co-chair of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, Ms. Nicola Shepherd at +1 917 367 9282, email: or Ms. Golda El-Khoury at +33 1 45 68 45 47, email:

For interviews, contact the UN Department of Public Information through Liz Scaffidi at +1 212 963 5834 or





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