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This national day of awareness for youth worldwide was created in 1999 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The term “youth” is defined the United Nations as people from the ages of 15-24. The program was created to not only bring awareness to the youth of our nations, but to advocate and encourage their creativity, their passion for living, and to help youth around the world understand the power they have to have a positive impact on the present and the future.

“The World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), adopted by the General Assembly, provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.”

Each year since 2000, International Youth Day brings to light the different priorities from the World Programme. The first observance of International Youth Day was held in August 12, 2000. The following years have each focused on a specific international issue regarding youth:

  • 2001 - Addressing Health and Unemployment
  • 2002 - Now and for the future: Youth Action for Sustainable Development
  • 2003 - Finding decent and productive work for youth everywhere
  • 2004 - Youth in an intergenerational society
  • 2005 - Making commitments matter
  • 2006 - Tackling poverty together
  • 2007 - Be seen, Be heard: Youth participation for development
  • 2008 - Youth and Climate change: Time for Action
  • 2009 - Sustainability: Our Challenge, Our Future
  • 2010 - Dialogue and mutual understanding

There are 15 areas of priority that were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations:

Youth Year

2010 is an important year in the history of International Youth Day. It has been declared the International Year of Youth, celebrating the past decade of yearly observations and yearly youth accomplishments.

“In line with the theme for the International Year, the theme for this year’s International Youth Day is “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The choice of theme reflects the General Assembly’s appreciation of the value of dialogue among youth from different cultures as well as among different generations.

The 2010 International Youth Day will be celebrated at United Nations headquarters in New York with the global launch event of the International Year of Youth. The event will be a celebration of young peoples’ energy, imagination and initiatives and will recognize their crucial contributions to enhancing peace and development. The event is an opportunity for the international community and the UN system to demonstrate their commitment to young people. But it will also be a fun occasion with musical guests and performances. A photo exhibit entitled “Visual Voices – Youth perspectives on Global Issues” will be inaugurated in the UN visitors lobby. The exhibit will be open to the public until early September. In addition to the global launch event at UN Headquarters, there will be celebrations all over the world, which will highlight opportunities and challenges for youth throughout the International Year of Youth in different regions and countries.”


Youth and the United Nations

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