International Youth Day 2016 Statement

On the United Nation’s International Youth Day, the ITUC Youth Committee is observing the day with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies” and the significant role youth can play in the development of global responses to current global challenges.

Our world has its largest ever generation of adolescents and youth standing at 1.8 billion. These young people while struggling to realise their hopes and dreams, they also have to live with a growing reality of violence, terrorism, persecution, armed conflict and human rights violations. Over half of the refugee population globally is under the age of 18 while thousands of young people are forced from their homes due to poverty or climate events. A whole generation is growing up with no or inadequate access to basic services, education, economic opportunities and healthcare.

Yet, global discourse over the past decade, including on recent violent extremism in different parts of the world, has unfortunately tended to see youth as a demographic easily driven into violence and extremist ideologies. This conception has predominantly led to a popular depiction of young people as a threat to global security and stability.
Violence and extremism knows no demographics. Nevertheless, the neglect of and exclusion of the youth in society and the economy could expose young people to a high rate of radicalisation and an “us” and “them” view of the world.

The ITUC Youth Committee is committed to a world in which peace, democracy and social justice remain the overriding values.

We stand in solidarity with all young women and men who continue to struggle against the denial of their rights, including attacks on freedom of association and anti-union actions.

We call governments to invest in opportunities for the youth, ensure young people’s participation and contribution in building peace and stability and recognise and support the role of youth in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.

We call the international community to dramatically step up its efforts to restore peace in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Those most at risk – women, children, migrants and workers in targeted occupations, must be protected.

Maintaining peace and stability requires the work of all. We pledge to remain an anchor of peace and stability.

In Solidarity,

Nana Koomah Brown-Orleans
ITUC Youth Committee Chairperson