Officially tasked to misbehave: introducing the second Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake

In September 2017, Jayathma Wickramanayake became the second person to be the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. Originally from Sri Lanka, she was the country’s first UN Youth Delegate, is an experienced organiser of international youth events, and wrote her master thesis on youth policy. Yet, she says that she’s often considered ‘too young to be true’ – especially by her older, male colleagues. But taking the reins as the highest official on youth at the UN, has got off to a challenging start: her office is in debt to the UN system. We caught up with Jayathma on the sidelines of International Civil Society Week to talk about her, her role, and her ambitions for the years ahead.

What is the story behind this almost comical relationship of the youth sector to its own commitments?

Why does the global youth sector fool itself with commitments it fails to live up to?

At the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, held in 2014, the UN co-conveners – the Youth Envoy, UNDP, UNESCO – committed to ten global actions to strengthen youth policies. Taking stock of the achievements, more than three years later, is not a pretty sight. Despite the impressive backlog of unfulfilled commitments from the Global Forum, the 2018 Ecosoc Youth Forum concluded with a slapstick commitment session. And we here at youthpolicy.org haven’t exactly covered ourselves with glory trying to live up to our own commitments made in 2014. What is the story behind this almost comical relationship of the youth sector to its own commitments?

The rights of adolescents: the most important articulation of adolescent rights since 1989

At the Palais de Nations in Geneva, the Committee on the Rights of the Child launched the most important articulation of adolescent rights since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Significantly, the General Comment takes the strongest positions adopted so far by the UN in outlining how age-related legislation should be used, reformed and abolished in terms of governing the ability of adolescents to access services, make independent choices, and realise their rights. This article captures discussions from the launch, provides context and makes our own recommendations.