Young people represent the majority of the population in most developing countries, where they are often directly exposed to the effects of climate change, conflict, exclusion or economic instability. And in many parts of the world, it is still difficult for youth to be heard — and to influence decision-making processes.
In spite of these challenges, every day, across the globe, young people stand up for rights and against racism, hate speech, bullying and discrimination. They also take a lead role in many areas – including when it comes to advocating for climate action. On Human Rights Day, we recognize the leadership and courageous efforts of young people to Stand Up for Human Rights.
And 71 years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights continues to serve as a beacon for all as we come together to meet new and existing challenges. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works with national actors to promote a culture of human rights with young people at the centre. From supporting young people’s rights through civic education programmes in Ukraine — to facilitating youth-led dialogue on human rights in Botswana — to partnering with IOM, UNHCR, OHCHR, and UN-PBSO to strengthen mechanisms for the protection of youth and vulnerable groups in El Salvador — UNDP remains an ally and advocate for the concrete contributions that young people bring to peace and development processes across the world.
On this Human Rights Day, let us commit to doing all that we can — as individuals and organizations — to ensure that young people have safe and inclusive spaces and can participate in all decisions that impact on their wellbeing and their communities’ development. As we enter this crucial Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP is proud to continue to help empower young people to better know and claim their rights — which is critical to help build a brighter, more sustainable and more inclusive future.
Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)