Ban Ki-Moon announced the appointment of a new special advisor for youth back in January 2012 as part of his attempt to better “address the needs of the largest generation of young people the world has ever known.” But after the issue of a call for nominations in March 2012, nothing has happened for months. You want to know why? Because the money is missing. Read on for details about political slapstick by the UN at the expense of young people.

UN Youth Advisor: a big announcement with a small budget

Ban Ki-Moon certainly stirred up the international youth scene when he announced, back in January 2012, to appoint a new special advisor for youth as part of his attempt to better “address the needs of the largest generation of young people the world has ever known.” (Source: the Secretary General’s five-year action plan).

The terms of reference describe the role of the special advisor, who will:

  1. serve as a global advocate for multi-stakeholder partnerships related to the United Nations system-wide action plan on youth and to youth volunteer initiatives;
  2. Promote the empowerment and foster the leadership of youth at the national, regional and global levels including through exploring mechanisms for young people’s participation in the work of the United Nations and in political and economic processes at the national, regional and global levels, with a special focus on the most marginalised and vulnerable youth;
  3. Collaborate with the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development in developing and implementing the United Nations system-wide action plan on youth encouraging the deepening of the youth focus of existing United Nations programmes at all levels, guided by the World Programme of Action for Youth, with a focus on the priority areas identified by the Secretary General in his five-year action agenda: employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education including on sexual and reproductive health;
  4. Develop a set of global principles and guidelines on how to create enabling environments for meaningful youth participation and youth leadership; and encourage governments to develop youth engagement strategies including through the development of structures and mechanisms for supporting young people’s engagement;
  5. Promote the engagement and involvement of young people and youth-led organisations in policy, development and peace-building processes, including in preparations and advocacy for the post-2015 UN development agenda and the United Nations system-wide action plan on youth;
  6. Engage both traditional and new media globally in addressing youth issues;
  7. Ensure the integration of gender perspective across all work areas;
  8. Represent the Secretary General as appropriate.

The excitement of the international youth sector was palpable—if not unanimously shared—but after the issue of a call for nominations in March 2012, nothing has happened for months.

In July, it became clear why. In the Youth Flash Newsletter it states:

UN Youth Advisor: a big announcement with a small budget
UN Youth Advisor: a big announcement with a small budget

“Numerous nominations have been received for both the role of the Special Advisor and her/his Advisory Group. The terms of reference for the role of Special Advisor indicate an exciting time ahead for youth issues within the UN system. However, for the role to be appointed funding contributions from Member States to support the office of the Special Advisor and his/her team for the medium term must first be secured. We hope to have more information on this process in the coming months.”

 

It’s difficult to decide what is more outrageous: that the special advisor for youth was announced without having the budgetary provisions in place, or that there is apparent trouble raising sufficient funds from UN member states to put such provisions in place.

How can this be real? How can something be announced and presented as ultimate fact, when there is no money to make it happen? How can it be so difficult to raise the money necessary to equip the advisor with meaningful resources?

This is political slapstick of the worst kind. Those responsible for this farce should be ashamed.

UN Youth Advisor: a big announcement with a small budget
UN Youth Advisor: a big announcement with a small budget

Written by Youthpolicy Team

Youthpolicy Team

At youthpolicy.org, we are building a global evidence-base for youth policy. We are published by Youth Policy Press, a global publishing house on youth issues. We generate and consolidate knowledge and information on youth policies; critically report from and about global youth events; and more. Email us at curious@youthpolicy.org.