Mexico is a country that has been in the news a lot recently, especially because if its tragic war on drugs. But it is also the host country for this year’s World Youth Conference; an event that tries to shape global youth policy past 2015 and the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals.
Considering that almost 50 percent of the world population is composed of young people and children, this conference is crucial for shaping the future lifeline of society, particularly as young people are most affected by poverty. Unfortunately, this conference and this topic is not being taken seriously by a large majority of countries, especially in Europe. And so far, the conference has not been covered by western media.
This lack of interest for youth policy is clearly problematic. As the World Bank reports, better youth policies increases the GDP of a country significantly over the long term. It also helps to create a more stable and safe society.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, why have governments, and especially western governments, not started to address the problems of the generation that is and will be most affected by the crisis? As the ILO reports, the current generation of young people threatens to become a lost one, due to high unemployment rates and a lack of appropriate policy responses from governments.
The World Youth Conference is trying to fill in the gap by providing a (non-binding) platform for the international community to discuss and debate youth issues. So far, recommendations made by civil society have been widely integrated in the process of drafting the final declaration. But what is also interesting about the outcome of this conference is that the final declaration will also include topics that are of interest to young people.
Topics as innovative (for international law) as “Ensuring internet neutrality” or “Supporting open sources technology” have been included in the declaration. This declaration, once accepted, will become part of the corpus of international law, and the relatively low level of the conference will not lessen its overall impact; governments have made real commitments to its outcome.
But a nice declaration is not enough, as the NGOs present in Mexico have stated very clearly: Representatives of governments, keep your promises and make them true.