Youth Delegates Unite: My Experience at the General Assembly Third Committee

This October, I spent several days in New York with youth delegates from around the world. Check out a few of my favorite moments below! 

A little about the Third Committee: To help address the wide range of global issues the international community is confronting, the UN General Assembly is composed of six committees. Each focuses on a different topic (more about this here), from international security to economics.

The Third Committee—for Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural issues—happens to be my favorite, since it is the committee where international youth delegates have the most impact. We convened in October to help make progress on some pressing challenges, from Islamophobia to youth employment.

The committee debated and voted on several draft resolutions, including several impacting youth (view all the resolutions here). Because I am especially passionate about women’s rights and those who stand up for justice, I was thrilled to see that a special resolution to protect human rights defenders was passed by the Third Committee. Though Russia and China voted against the resolution—illustrating some of the limitations of the UN—this is a great example of the UN’s ability to set international norms and standards for the treatment of all people.

The Highlights: 

1. Sitting with the U.S. Delegation, including Ambassador Power! The US Mission to the UN actually includes five Ambassadors, with Ambassador Power serving as the Permanent Representative. Learn more about these inspiring women (and one man!) here.

2. Meeting with Ambassador Power to discuss gender equality in commemoration of International Day of the Girl. Did you catch our chat? Watch it here.

3. Meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, an outspoken advocate for human rights and incredible figure in the international community. Under his leadership, the UN has taken an out-front role on LGBT rights for all through the Free & Equal Campaign.

4. Meeting my fellow “colleagues” at the UN- Youth Delegates from all over the world! Take a look at their profiles. I think it’s safe to say I’ve met future Presidents, Ambassadors, and Secretary-Generals (shout-out to Regina). Over half of the youth delegates are women, so we were so excited to hear about the Secretary-General’s focus on the rights of girls and women!

5. Meeting with the UN Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, with the other Youth Delegates to learn about his priorities while voicing our own. Ahmad was appointed by the Secretary General to advocate for addressing the development needs and rights of young people. Learn more about his post here.

6. Hosting a Side Event at the US Mission for the Youth Delegates. The US often plays a convening role for other nations, frequently inviting other countries’ delegations to get to know each other better.

7. Celebrating International Day of the Girl in the ECOSOC Chamber with a few of the other Youth Delegates! It sometimes seems like there is a UN Day for everything, but these opportunities are so important to help get the word out across the country. Be sure to explore the Issues pages on the GenUN site to learn more about how you can participate, even if you’re not in NYC!

8. Having the opportunity to hear statements from countries represented all over the world and to hear from the Youth Delegates themselves! Over 20 youth statements were made, focusing on issues from the refugee crisis, education, and employment opportunities. As my fellow youth spoke about the current problems their own youth were faced with, I realized that our youth experience the same. This dialogue between nations, institutions, and individuals is important to the cooperative efforts that are necessary to solving the world’s most pressing issues.

9. Having the honor and privilege of representing American Youth at the United Nations. The youth in the United States are impacted by the youth in other countries and their agendas, so it is important that we are aware of one another and willing to come to the table together. The Third Committee is able to do just that through their focus on social issues, humanitarian affairs, and human rights. I can’t wait to see how we can work together to build a better future for us all.

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