Statement delivered by Gauri Pradhan, International Coordinator and Former Member (Commissioner) of National Human Rights Commission of Nepal on Youth for Human Rights International Conference on Human Rights and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
May 26 2017
Kathmandu, Nepal

Respectable Chair
Chief Guest Minister of Agriculture and Development
Delegates from Different Countries
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. First of all I would like to express my sincere gratitude for inviting me to be a part of this grand inauguration ceremony of International Conference on Youth for Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals.

2. We all know that youth are the vibrant force and hope for nation building in every society. Therefore they need to be brought up in a youth friendly and enabling environment for their overall development. Education, training, sports, music, social and community development works are a part of their everyday life for broadening their views, vision and perspectives about their society, country and the world as a whole. Likewise, exposure to social issues will help them to understand the importance of human rights, peace and progress and the challenges ahead.

3. Principally, we all think that youth of the world should deserve a peaceful and human rights friendly environment. However, the reality is not like what we imagine for them instead they come across with very many serious challenges which not only hamper their natural development but also sabotage their beautiful dreams for a world without violence, discrimination and exploitation.

4. The number of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is 1.1 billion, which constitute 18 percent of the global population. Youth and children together, including all those aged 24 years and younger, account for nearly 40 percent of the world's population. Geographically speaking, the largest population of youth is concentrated in Asia and the Pacific. Approximately 60 percent of youth live in Asia; 15 percent, in Africa; 10 percent, in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the remaining 15 percent, in developed countries and regions.
5. Millions of youth in this world today are the victims and survivors of exploitative politico and social cultural structure and unfair social relations. Millions of adolescents and youth today face the prospect of early marriage, early child bearing, labour exploitation, human trafficking, incomplete education and threat to violent conflict and war. Approximately 238 million youth live in extreme poverty—that is, they live on less than $1 a day; 462 million youth survive on less than $2 a day. About 255 million young people live in the 19 countries with the largest poverty gaps; 15 of these 19 countries are the least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
6. In 1995, the UN General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond, setting forth a global framework to address key issues related to youth and reflecting a dialogue ongoing since the 1960s. The key issues concerning youth had been raised in many internationally agreed documents including UN 2030 Development Agenda called SDGs.

7. Development, peace, and participation have been the three most popular themes to raise issues and concerns of youth for last four decades. Reflecting these themes, the World Programme of Action for Youth outlines 10 priority areas of concern for young people, they are education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure time activities, girls and young women, and participation.

8. There are many different types of globalization, including economic, socio-cultural, and governance-related, that are increasing the interconnectedness of the world's nations and peoples. However, the benefits and progress often associated with economic globalization which is mostly in favour of rich and developed countries. Unless fruits of globalization are enjoyed by the marginlaised and less privileged population including youth the disparity between rich and poor will remain as it is both within and outside the country. Potentials of the youth population should be maximize through full access to education, training and productive employment.

9. Demographic dividend is a very important instrument to end the poverty and for sustainable development. In order to tap the potentialities of youth, we should strengthen the health programmes which foster the development of a population that is healthy and capable of contributing to economic growth. Likewise, we should also expand and ensure equal educational opportunities and training for a productive employment for all; and create enabling environment for their active participation in every sphere of society. We also need to mobilise adequate resources for their education, training, health care, food and nutrition and for promoting their effective participation in society.

10. The UN sponsored Sustainable Development Goals and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IAGDs) are owned by all the countries of the world. They have also developed their national bench marks and target goals to contribute for achieving the global goals. The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) which aims to enable half the number of LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020 has also focus on education, training, and productive employment of youth. Therefore, there is a dire need for synergy and coherence between IPoA, SDGs and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs). If we sincerely wish our adolescent and youth to thrive in an enabling environment, the state including legislature, executive and judiciary and all other constitutional bodies including national human rights institutes (NHRIs) need to focus their actions on promotion and protection of human rights of youth. For this, we also need to strengthen our national mechanisms to respect, protect and fulfill human rights obligation of the state. Similarly, the civil society organizations need to fortify their human rights watch and collaborative action with youth organisations for promoting youth as a potential source of hope and inspiration for present as well as future of the world. Likewise the youth organisations should firmly take the movement forward to empower all the young people to bring change into their lives to be reliable change agents.

I wish you all the best for the successful conference and extend my solidarity for your movement.

Thank you,