Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaYouth Speaking to the UN General Assembly
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content
Youth Speaking to the UN General Assembly Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Vidar Ekehaug, Norway Oct 31, 2005
Child & Youth Rights , Human Rights , Peace & Conflict   Interviews


Youth Speaking to the UN General Assembly Mohammed Al-Ghanim, Arab Regional Coordinator for the Global Youth Action Network, participated as a youth representative in a hearing for civil society at the United Nations in New York. He had the honor to be the only youth speaker at the event, and he was also the very first speaker in what was an historic event – it was the first time civil society was invited to speak at an official General Assembly session.

What kind of event was it, and when and where did it take place?
The United Nations General Assembly held, for the first time ever, hearings with Civil Society Organizations and the Private Sector along with Member States to discuss the Draft Outcome Document of the World Summit in September 2005. The Hearings were held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in June 2005.

How did you hear about the event?
The Global Youth Action Network, the organization I work with, holds consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Due to this status, the organization has precedence to be informed of any events that are open to civil society, provided it is organized or co-organized by the UN and its subsidiary agencies. The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service and the UN General Assembly President’s civil society network called upon organizations and the private sector to send representatives to these meetings, and I was nominated to attend as part of GYAN’s team.

What was the application process, and how did you cover your travel costs?
The selection was based on an application process open to organizations registered with the UN Department of Public Information. I applied through GYAN and had to answer some questions on what I would address if I was chosen to speak. My application was approved and I was invited to take part in the hearings. Being a national of a country from the South, the UN Trust Fund, which was setup by the General Assembly, covered my participation costs.

What was the level of your participation?
I was honored to be the only youth speaker at the event, which in reality is quite historic in nature, as this is the first time ever that the UN has facilitated an open dialogue between member-states and civil society organizations within the General Assembly. I spoke at the cluster of “Freedom to Live in Dignity” which tackled issues of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition to being the only youth speaker, I was also the first civil society speaker at the entire event.

Did you feel your voice was heard?
I tried my best to make the voices of youth and Arabs heard. It was a difficult task, but I believe that I did the best that I could and did receive some positive feedback from member-states, which is always refreshing! The Youth Caucus for the event, headed by GYAN, also worked on a youth amendment document which incorporates young people into the core of the World Summit’s Outcome Document.

How will this experience benefit the work you do in your country?
The event was very much UN related. I believe that the opportunity allowed me to express my views on the work of the multilateral institution which continues to be an important organization, regardless of criticism. I think the fact that young people were allowed to voice their views to member-states, the President of the General Assembly, fellow civil society colleagues and the private sector is always an excellent opportunity that will give a strong impression about the ability and willingness of young people to work towards solving world problems and achieving the Millennium Development Goals as full and effective partners.

Do you have any other thoughts on the experience?
I am very much honored at this opportunity. I do hope that those young people who attended felt that I represented them in someway. This event has given me a boost to continue working towards human development issues, regardless of the difficulties; especially if the UN incorporates the views of civil society (being the non-official partners of governments) in such a serious manner.



You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
Vidar Ekehaug

This user has not written anything in his panorama profile yet.
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.