A UN Strategic Advisor On How The 1.8 Billion Youth Can Change This World

Posted on August 24, 2015 in Society

By Ravi Karkara:

We must harness the potential of young people to promote, fulfill, and realize the fundamental rights of humanity. They need to be recognized as right holders in today’s world.

The world is celebrating the World Program for Action on Youth, a critical moment where the world agreed on 15 goals of youth development. I want to draw your attention to the Braga youth action plan, which very clearly called for human rights mechanisms to have an active youth focus and called upon the international community to adopt a global declaration on the human rights of youth.

youth and elections

It is important to make a distinction between youth rights and child rights. While the Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly articulates the rights of human populations below the age of 18, it is still unclear how the human rights framework applies to the 1.8 billion youth. The IBERO American Youth Charter and the African Youth Charter are the two regional frameworks that clearly adopt and apply human rights for the young.

It important to remind us this important of the creation of the Global Declaration on rights of youth as well as clearly agree on defining the age group of youth. As long as we treat them as Ad-hoc and youth-hood as a transition time for becoming an adult, we will continue to marginalize the conversation on human rights of youth. There are clear areas that emerge out of lessons learnt so far:

1. Strengthening youth participation in creating a human rights based society.
2. Holding duty-bearers accountable so that they recognize fundamental human rights of all young people across the world and agree on a global declaration on youth rights.
3. Creating permanent mechanisms that promote participation of the most marginalized young women and men representing youth from communities such as LGBTQ, youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, etc.

I would like comment that a society that respects human rights can be achieved if we strengthen youth participation, ensure inclusion and non-discrimination, and create a culture that promotes accountability and social justice.

The recently adopted sustainable development goals create a very conducive environment for promoting global action to end inequality and attain human rights for all. The next fifteen years are critical for advancing human rights of the most marginalized populations including women, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and minority groups. Youth can be a driving force in advancing humanity in the creation of a world that ends poverty, attains equality, achieves sustainable development, and peace.

ravi-picAbout the Author: Ravi Karkara is a trained Social Worker with commitment to advancing human rights, gender equality, inclusion and social justice. Ravi serves as the Global Advisor on Youth + Partnership with UN-HABITAT, based in New York. He is the lead author of the groundbreaking report “Youth 21: Building the Architecture of Youth Engagement in the UN System,” by UN-Habitat, which contributed to the creation of United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. As Global Strategic Advisor to United Nations Millennium Campaign he was instrumental in getting over 5 million youth vote in the SG’s My World 2015 survey. Currently, he is the Strategic Adviser Partnership Beijing+20 to the Deputy Executive Director, UN Women.