IYCS SG Intervention at UN HR Forum Geneva 21-22 November 2016

Our Secretary General, Richard Apeh participated at the first session, Forum on Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law – “widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision -making” and here is the transcript of his oral intervention at the forum held at the Palais des Nations (United Nations) Geneva
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak

I represent International Young Catholic Students, a movement that is promoting the participation of youth in the development of their community using the methodology of see, judge, act. We are also involved through our global campaign in the promotion of holistic quality education which is key to solving all the issues enumerated throughout this conference.

The question of youth participation didn’t just begin today, several fora have been held to talk about the role of youth and their participation in questions concerning the youth and we applaud and acknowledge contributions of such fora. I use the word youth question rather than youth issues because what concerns us should not be seen as issues but as questions that demand genuine answer.

I have attended many forums and for each forum or event I attend even if they are sponsored programs, I still need to spend some portion of my resources to get in there. And this is because I happen to be one of the privileged few who could afford to contribute not only my time and availability but also my personal financial resources.

If I were to be living in my home country today, I probably won’t be here to attend this forum because I most likely wouldn’t get visa to come, the visa requirements are far beyond what an average young person can meet, this automatically exclude a great session of the society who are doing greatly at the grassroots but cannot afford to get up here to let their voice be heard.

We appreciate the many initiative being promoted by the UN and it’s subsidiary bodies, however we would prefer to see a well structured and permanent youth participation mechanism within the UN. We demand more commitment on the part of the UN and the states beyond just eventful participation to a more concise and active engagement of the youth at the level of decision making. (Don’t take about us or talk to us, rather talk with us)

Finally, whenever youth questions are raised, the language of description “youth issue” is very derogatory, I emphasize that youth are not issues, we must move beyond an issue based approach to a right base approach. The yearning of the youth to participate must not be treated as an issue but as a fundamental human rights which should be granted. Most times we say, youths are energetic and should fight for their right, why should we always be asked to fight for our right when the adult don’t need to fight for theirs. Kindly give us a space on the table and lets work together

Thank you


  • This is awesome, nice work your Excellency

  • Nice speech. I hope and pray they listen to his voice.

  • Hi Richard

    Its a good intervention and rightly put together the demands of youth. I hope it will have some impact on the UN bodies and hope to work within the system than beging for our rights. Congrats and God bless

    Fr Charles

  • May our voice be continuously heard.
    Keel the spirit going.

    See,Judge and Act.

  • Great intervention Richard. Certainly Youth participation in decision making is a RIGHT. Let us therefore continue to promote it. In the same line IYCS should join the global campaign of NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN. It is a campaign to get more young people into active decision making positions. Interesting to note that the campaign that started in Nigeria has been taken up by the United Nations so more young people can participate. #nottooyoungtorun

  • Thank you Comrade Rich. You clearly put out the challenges hindering effective youth participation. It is true youth are “second class” citizens when it come to way the matters that affect them are viewed. A mindset shift in this regard is a matter of urgency.

  • Right words chosen brother. If only it can be adhered to to the letter. If only those in ‘re helm of world affairs truly start seeing the youths as partners they can really work with to make the world more habitable, more peaceful and more accommodating. The future will only belong to the youth if they are partners in world affairs.

  • The youths you deny today is the voice you will eventually negotiate to hear tommorow when the chips are down. The need to have a place for the youths in the UN is commendable; Comrade Richy, keep the flag flying!

  • VVers round offre you dear. thé participation offre tais session mare us grouw again.
    From Burkina Faso great you.

  • Depuis le Burkina Faso nous te disons felicitation pour la participation.Nous sommes de vous et vos propos etaient forts et.bien placés effectivement. pour nous en Afrique la concidération et l association des jeune dans la construction de la democratie ne peut que la rendre durable et forte

  • Georgianna Bannister

    Hi, after reading this awesome article i am as well delighted to share my experience here with colleagues.

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