Young people and the United Nations
Young people from all over the world in traditional costumes with national flags
© UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Almost half of the global population is under 24 years of age, and 85 percent of young people live in developing countries – these numbers alone show how important it is for the United Nations to take the concerns of the young into particular consideration.
To that end, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) in 1995. Updated in 2010, this programme defines priority areas which affect young people the world over. It also contains recommendations for action by member states.
Since the adoption of the WPAY, a World Youth Report has been published every two years as a way of taking stock of the progress which has already been made.
More information on the United Nations Programme on Youth is available here:
Among the documents available for download are the World Programme of Action for Youth and the most recent World Youth Report (2010).
German youth delegates
Experience the United Nations in New York first-hand? Since 2005, two young people have been given the opportunity to accompany each German delegation to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. There, along with other “youth delegates” from around the world, they observe the work of the General Assembly and provide a voice for the concerns of young people. Since 2006, the possibility has existed for them to make a speech to the international community.
They are nonetheless not part of their Government’s delegation. This means that they are not bound to the Government’s stance and can freely express their own views.
Before departing for New York, the youth delegates tour Germany for several weeks. Through talks and projects with other young people in schools and universities, youth organizations and associations as well as independent bodies, they make themselves familiar with the work of the United Nations. In this way, they find out what concerns should be raised in New York.
The General Assembly deals with youth issues in the Third Committee. The World Programme of Action for Youth also falls within the remit of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD), a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The project to send German youth delegates to the General Assembly is funded by the United Nations Association of Germany (UNA-Germany) and the German National Committee for International Youth Work (DNK) and is also supported by the Federal Foreign Office as well as the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
The applications process is run each autumn for the following year; for more information, click here:,
The United Nations Youth Association Germany (UNYA Germany) brings together more than 20 different groups of young people interested in the United Nations from all over Germany. They variously focus on research and teaching as well as youth participation in the UN and in Germany’s network of Model United Nations (MUN) initiatives.
They collaborate in working groups which are given remits during Assemblies of Delegates to work either on specific projects (such as preparing for a particular event) or towards more long-term goals (such as exchange between Germany’s Model United Nations groups).
Further information is available on the Association’s website:
Model United Nations
Model United Nations conferences simulate the meetings and negotiations of UN bodies in essence according to the actual rules of procedure of, for instance, the Security Council or the General Assembly. Every participant represents the interests of one member state. The aim of MUN conferences is to demonstrate to those participating what challenges diplomats are faced with in negotiations. They provide an accessible illustration of why consensus is often so elusive in the UN system.
Every year, many young people take part in local, national and international MUN conferences in Germany. One of the largest simulations is the National Model United Nations Conference (NMUN) which takes place annually in New York. Universities from around the world send delegations to the NMUN.
Germany’s Model United Nations initiatives are connected through the United Nations Youth Association Germany (UNYA Germany).
The following website details possibilities for funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for groups of German students travelling to take part in competitions abroad:
Last updated 27.06.2011