27 October 1995

GA/8978


MORAL VALUES AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS KEY TO ADDRESSING YOUTH PROBLEMS, SAY SPEAKERS IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

19951027Concludes Commemoration of Tenth Anniversary of International Youth Year

Teaching moral values to youth and responding to their spiritual needs was a key to addressing their current problems, said speakers this afternoon, as the General Assembly concluded its discussions commemorating the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year.

The representative of Morocco said that it was imperative to preserve those moral values that provided a spiritual balance for young people and reinforced the family as the fundamental institution of society. Further, it would be well worth it to provide students with an introduction to human rights issues, he said.

The world, particularly its youth, was suffering from a moral crisis, which was, in many societies of immense proportions, the representative of Iran said. To avert a crisis of identity, the international community must respond to the spiritual needs of young men and women, as well as to their temporal needs.

Other speakers highlighted the place of education in preparing youth for their role in society. For example, the representative of Tunisia said that the goals of his country's educational programmes included strengthening young people's sense of belonging and preparing them for citizenship in a civil community based on moderation, justice and tolerance.

The Director for Social Participation and Youth of the Ministry of the Family of Venezuela said youth remained on the sidelines in education in his country, and that was an important source of frustration. That situation was due to a lack of resources, which affected 50 per cent of youth, the need to work on the part of others and the fact that some did not highly value education.

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The representative of Libya said that education in its various forms should concentrate on the abolition of technical illiteracy. Rapid technological advancement posed problems that must be addressed by the educational system, so youth could avoid marginalization.

Statements were also made this afternoon by the representatives of Malaysia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Sudan and Egypt.

Also addressing the Assembly were: the Vice-Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cyprus Youth Board; the youth representative of Mexico, a senator from Pakistan; the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Malawi; and the Deputy Secretary-General of the National Youth Bureau of Thailand.

The General Assembly will take action on the draft world programme of action for youth to the year 2000 and beyond at a future date.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to conclude its discussion in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year.

The final text for the draft world programme of action for youth to the year 2000 and beyond, which was considered by the Economic and Social Council on 25 October, has not yet been agreed upon (see Press Release ECOSOC/5629 issued 25 October).

Statements

RAZALI ISMAIL (Malaysia) said young people in all countries were key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation. Of the more than 1 billion youth in the world, more than 60 per cent lived in the Asia-Pacific region and that percentage was expected to increase to 89 per cent by the year 2025. Furthermore, there were more than 120 million unemployed people worldwide and 700 million who were underemployed. Those statistics demonstrated that there was a great need to prepare appropriate responses to provide productive employment in the future. The final draft programme of action attempted to provide a broad framework to address those problems. Youth in developing countries needed better health services as well as better access to education, training, credit and technical assistance and technology. Those concerns needed to be appropriately addressed.

MINA MIR BAHA (Iran) said the world programme of action for youth constituted a considerable step towards the improvement of the situation of youth world-wide, because it provided a framework and standards for both policy-making and implementation at national, regional and international levels. Governments should work with young people to develop strategies for dealing with particular issues in a way that was commensurate with their own historical background and cultural heritage. Education was the first priority and perhaps the prerequisite factor for social development. "The world, particularly its youth, is suffering from a moral crisis which, in many societies, is of immense proportions", he said. "To avert this crisis of identity, we have to respond to the spiritual needs of young men and women, as well as to their temporal needs".

CHRISTOS MESSIS, Vice-Chairman of the Governing Council of the Youth Board of Cyprus, said the continuing Turkish occupation of 37 per cent of his country and the uprooting of one third of its population greatly affected the youth living there. The population living in that area had been accommodated in cities and refugee settlements, which had forced young people to live in relatively crowded and unfamiliar city dwellings. The psychological effects on the young had been devastating. The new generation of Cyprus had found itself facing dangers and complex problems.

General Assembly Plenary - 5 - Press Release GA/8978 44th Meeting (PM) 27 October 1995

ARMANDO ARTEAGA TENORIO (Mexico) said that the traditional problems of youth, such as unemployment, educational needs, drug use and delinquency, hunger and poverty, had all increased, and to them had been added such modern day problems as large-scale migrations, AIDS and environmental devastation. In addition, youth were receiving messages of violence, in addition to their already low expectations and marginalization and contributing to the appearance of increasingly violent societies.

Mexico proposed the following five strategies: the participation of youths in the design, implementation and assessment of youth programs; strengthened coordination between groups concerning youths; ensuring that youth-oriented actions are ongoing by incorporating the principal concepts of youth programmes in legal procedures; developing strong electronic and printed communications to encourage dialogue with youth and their participation; and promoting research on youth problems.

MOHAMMAD ZIAUDDIN (Bangladesh) said that in 1985, the International Youth Year had called attention to the growing numbers and needs of the world youth. Ten years had passed and profound and wide-ranging international socio-economic changes had taken place. During that decade, new challenges and unforeseen difficulties had arisen for developing countries and their youth populations, leading to their continued overall international marginalization and socio-economic deterioration. The 1990s had seen a renewed emphasis on social concerns, with six United Nations conferences taking place, each addressing fundamental social issues, which were direct concern to the world's youth. The international community must build on those new international developments by incorporating their special provisions for youth into its actions.

IQBAL HAIDER (Pakistan) said the Member States needed to design and implement policies and programmes at the national and international levels to achieve the objectives of the proposed world programme of action for youth. Education was the highest priority and required not only the reform of education systems, but a greater emphasis on training in various skills and technology. It should ensure meaningful interaction between youth groups all over the world. The Member States needed to strengthen or create mechanisms for giving greater credit access to youth in order to encourage them to start their own businesses. Another aim should be to provide universal health care. The most vulnerable group among youth was young girls and women who were exposed to various forms of discrimination and who faced taboos barring their full participation in economic and social life. "These barriers have to be removed through determined efforts at the highest policy-making levels and the grassroots levels".

JAMALEDDIN A. HAMIDA (Libya) said that celebration of the International Youth year was an expression of the United Nations commitment to youth. Youth now numbered more than 1 billion -- 18 per cent of the world's population. Youth were the basis of the world's social development, but they faced hunger

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and limited education, employment and health care. That situation had led to such problems as drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. The gap between the poor and the rich and between the developed and developing countries was widening. National policies were needed to address those problems.

Rapid technological advancement also posed problems, which the educational system must address so youth could avoid marginalization, he continued. Education in its various forms should concentrate on the abolition of technical illiteracy. The World Social Summit had been an international opportunity to adopt an integrated programme to address all sectors of society. Those recommendations must be fully implemented. Libya had given special attention to the problems of youth and believed that education was the basis for building a new generation. As such, it had made all education free. It had also instituted laws to protect and strengthen the family. Health services were also provided free for all citizens.

His country's efforts at implementing those social policies were, however, being hampered by the unjust sanctions imposed by the Security Council, under pressure from some big Powers. Libya's economy had lost more than $10 billion because of those sanctions and many people had died while waiting to go abroad for medical treatment.

SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said that since Tunisia was a relatively young country, children and young people represented a large majority of the population. Therefore, the Government placed a great emphasis on programmes directed at youth, such as education, training, job formation and preventive health care. Those reforms were in keeping with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Tunisia had signed just three months after it was adopted.

Since the different stages of life could not be separated from one another, Tunisia was committed to a policy that ensured complementarity between the ages, he continued. His Government was especially concerned about the social sector and had devoted a large part of its budget to education, in particular. Educational goals included strengthening young people's sense of belonging to the country and preparing them for citizenship in a civil community based on moderation, justice and tolerance. To encourage the participation of youth in society, Tunisia had lowered the minimum ages for holding certain elective offices.

AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said that the break-up of the family and the decline of moral values had had grave repercussions on the stability, security and future of young people. Therefore, it was imperative to preserve those moral values that played a key role in guaranteeing the spiritual balance of young people and in reinforcing the family as the fundamental institution of society. The increase in new forms of racism, intolerance and xenophobia affected young people above all, provoking unfounded hostilities between them and inspiring aggression, violence and fear. Therefore, it was imperative

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that the international community take action to put an end to those alarming phenomena. It was the duty of the Member States to encourage young people to respect other civilizations, races and ethnic and religious groups. To this end, it would be well worth providing an introduction to human rights to students.

KAMANGADAZI K. CHAMBALO, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture of Malawi, said Malawian youth faced a host of challenges ranging from unemployment, inadequate relevant educational opportunities, AIDS and HIV, drug and alcohol abuse, and youth's non-involvement in decision-making, among others. Young people, however, had the potential to become a dynamic and positive force in shaping the future of Malawi, and of all nations. The ushering in of a democratic system of government in Malawi was a milestone that opened up people's minds. It had led to the formation of many viable, independent youth organizations working in various youth fields. A national youth policy had been developed. It had identified key areas of attention, such as education, training and youth employment; health and nutrition; social services, recreation, sports and culture; and the review of legislation.

URAIWAN PICHITAKUL, Secretary-General of the National Youth Bureau of Thailand, said that the problems and needs for children and youth were the focus of Thailand's current seventh children and youth development plan covering the years 1992 to 1996. During the past 10 years Thailand had followed up and evaluated its national youth policies and programmes and also had amended the laws to catch up with the situation of youth. She was now in the process of reviewing the next children and youth development five-year plan, from 1997 to 2001. In observance of the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year, she had organized several programmes including the national youth forum, the week of national youth day, a seminar on the role of youth in national development, and workshops on Asia-Pacific youth and handicraft and tourism.

AHMED YOUSIF MOHAMED (Sudan) said that youth constituted the heart and aspirations of future society. The commemoration of International Youth Year was an adequate opportunity to take stock of the situation of youth and to prepare future programmes and plans. Those programmes could only be achieved by using the vitality of the youth. The vitality of nations was in the vitality of youth and society must prepare them to shoulder their responsibilities.

He said the Sudan's national strategy for the next 10 years enumerated principles for promoting youth, including those valuing life as a blessing of God, of integration and equilibrium, and of dialogue and exchange of views. That strategy also identified areas for youth development, including the cultural and intellectual areas, and emphasized the role of science as the basis of progress.

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He said that in education, his Government had established 20 universities in all provinces. Basic education would be made mandatory for all children of school age starting next year. Girls now made up 60 per cent of the students in the Sudan's universities. He added that youth in the Sudan were being imbued with the teachings of Islam, which condemned delinquency.

MACOR PELLISSERO (Venezuela) said one of the areas where youth remained on the sidelines in Venezuela was in education which was an important source of frustration for them. According to a recent poll 50 per cent of youth cited a lack of educational resources as their reason for not studying. Others needed to work. For others, education was not highly valued.

He said that youth were unemployed at a rate eight times higher than the rate of the general population. The establishment of a governmental forum also supported actions aimed at youth. Formal programmes in schools, including special training and tutors, had also been established, along with several new preventive programmes aimed at helping poorer youth. There was also a drug prevention programme especially geared to people 7 to 25 years of age, which provided rehabilitation and scientific research.

ABDEL-GAFFAR ELDEEB (Egypt) said that youth were the leadership of the future. The international community should realize its commitment to youth and give ample attention to programmes that enabled them to participate effectively in society.

He said the United Nations should concentrate on tackling the essential economic issues facing youth. More assistance should be given to developing countries to provide basic food, education, housing and employment to youth, rather than dwelling on things like sexual and reproductive issues that were not major problems in developing countries. United Nations programmes should address the genuine problems of youth in developing countries.

He said that the multiplicity of legal systems throughout the world should be respected in drafting any international document. Egypt's position on the draft world programme of action on youth was that the implementation of the paragraphs on reproductive and sexual health should be applied in accordance with national legal systems. Egypt would implement those paragraphs in accordance with Islamic laws. The international community should consolidate international youth programmes and special attention should be given to the most needy members of society, such as the handicapped and children in rural areas, as well as those in areas of armed conflict.

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