NEW YORK, 16 OCTOBER 1997
STATEMENT BY Mr. ANTÓNIO JOSÉ SEGURO, REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 52nd SESSION (Agenda item: report of the Secretary-General on Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development)
The United Nations Economic and Social Council, at its meeting on 23 July 1997, unanimously adopted a decision to hold the first World Conference of Ministers for Youth in Lisbon from 8 to 12 August 1998. The Conference will be organized in cooperation with the United Nations, and all Member States are invited to attend.
The purpose of the World Conference is to broaden the debate on youth-related issues within the framework of the United Nations system, improving and implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
It is the Portuguese Government's view that the First World Conference of Ministers for Youth should not reopen the discussion of the text adopted by the General Assembly on 14 December 1995. Rather, it should focus on reviewing and evaluating the way in which Governments, in cooperation with young people and concerned intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, have implemented the measures recommended in the Programme of Action at the national, regional and local levels.
It should also set new guidelines for the effective enforcement of the Programme of Action, itemizing specific measures to solve problems which, although common to other sectors, are especially rife among young people education and participation, unemployment, health and drug addiction.
The first World Conference of Ministers for Youth is being carefully prepared to promote cooperation between Governments and all who are involved in youth-related issues around the world. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the open and participatory manner in which the first series of consultations took place over the past three days, and I take this opportunity to express my thanks and recognition to all those who were present at those discussions.
The Lisbon Conference is seen as a new organizational approach, and it will be the first time in the Organization's 50-year history that the topics to be covered have been broached at this level. Another innovative aspect will be the creation of a forum at the opening of the Conference so that, young people can express their views.
While it is important to act with determination and caution, on the one hand, it is, on the other, vital to know how to innovate by implementing mechanisms that can support emerging models, consolidating the global and intersectoral dimension of youth policies in close coordination with national, regional and local authorities while not ignoring the various social actors, including young people.
By hosting this World Conference, Portugal aims to create a forum for solidarity among all who are striving to improve the lifestyle and opportunities of young people. It is our wish to follow a course leading to tangible cooperation at the local, national, regional and global levels.
This is why we give due credit to the work being carried out in each country and to that of the specialized agencies of the United Nations, as well as to the actions being undertaken by the various cooperation organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. It is with this in mind that we are following up on the work performed by several regional conferences of ministers.
We are also closely monitoring the proposals advanced by young people and by the organizations representing them, for it is our view that youth policies must benefit from the participation of the young themselves.
We are set to make the Lisbon declaration a vital instrument, one that includes tangible measures responding to such problems as unemployment, drug addiction, health care, education and participation. A final declaration that is no more than a letter of intent filled with noble principles is clearly not what is required. We aim to reach much higher. We seek definite and concrete proposals. It is our ambition to find, together with all the countries involved, a path leading to new prospects.
Of the world's population, 18 per cent is 15 to 24 years old, and we all know that millions of these young people live in subhuman conditions. Many of them are poverty-stricken, others do not enjoy good health and many are unemployed.
Millions of young people throughout the world do not have a definite target in life because our societies do not allow them, in practice, to put into action the fundamental rights embodied in our Magna Carta documents. We are fully aware that the lives of those young people will not change on the day after the Conference ends, but we do believe that the Lisbon declaration will give rise to cooperation that will increasingly and progressively improve their lives.
We therefore call for one and all Governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, agencies, intergovernmental organizations, institutions and young people to commit themselves to and participate in the First World Conference of Ministers for Youth. What we propose is to accomplish a solid block of work to contribute significantly to fighting unemployment, poverty, drug addiction and disease. With that in mind, Portugal will be hosting next year the ninth Ibero-American Conference of Ministers for Youth, the first Conference of Ministers for Youth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the World Youth Festival and the third session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations system, which is being prepared by the Portuguese National Youth Council.
I would like to end by reaffirming what I said in Geneva last July. It is important that the Ministers for Youth work together under the aegis of the United Nations to ensure the improved social and professional integration of young people.
We believe in a global, concerted youth policy. Clearly, we can speak nowadays not of a typical youngster, but of youngsters who, while sharing the same problems, experience quite diverse social and cultural realities.
On behalf of the Portuguese Government, we offer our hospitality, our experience and our determination in organizing the First World Conference of Ministers for Youth, in cooperation with the United Nations. We do not want the World Conference to act as a balm to our consciences. We want the World Conference to stress the values of peace, liberty, tolerance and respect for human rights. We want the World Conference to include youth policies among the priorities of the world's political agenda. We want to give young people reasons to believe once more.