Young people and the United Nations

Young people from all over the world in traditional costumes with national flags

Young people from all over the world in traditional costumes with national flags, © UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras


Almost half of the world population is under 24 years of age. 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.

The United Nations General Assembly accordingly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) in 1995. Updated in 2010, this programme defines priority areas that 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:

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, where, 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 youth delegates have been able to make a speech to the international community. While they accompany the German governmental delegation, they are not bound by the Government’s position and may 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 organisations and associations as well as independent bodies, they familiarise themselves with the work of the United Nations and decide which topics should be presented 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 application process is run each autumn for the following year; for more information, click here:


Model United Nations

Model United Nations (MUN) 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 the challenges that diplomats face in negotiations. They illustrate 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. Each year, the Federal Foreign Office welcomes groups from German universities who have come to Berlin specifically to prepare for the NMUN in New York.

UNYA Germany

The United Nations Youth Association Germany (UNYA Germany) brings together more than 35 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 on Germany’s network of 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 MUN groups).

Further information is available on the Association’s website:

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