Print
Hits: 5362

 Introduction

   The 2013-2014 year was certainly an intense but productive one for the UN Advocacy Team.  From New York to Sri Lanka to Azerbaijan to Sweden and beyond, the UN Advocacy Team was able to take the message of Pax Romana and its millions of members to political negotiations, UN meetings, NGO trainings, and other important events throughout the year.  Today, the hard work and efforts of the members of the UN Advocacy Team means that young people are moving closer to creating a youth-led and youth-based advocacy infrastructure in New York that can serve IMCS, ICMICA, ICMYO, the MGCY, and all other civil society partners for years to come.  The UN Advocacy Team is laying the bedrock by acting as the first official ICMYO Liaison to the UN, and taking a leading and primary role in the MGCY.  It is with great pride that the UN Advocacy Team presents this report and hopes the International Teams of the Pax Romana movement will accept and share it with all regional coordinators and national movements.

 

   This report is organized into process clusters of events and meetings.  This is primarily because many of the meetings in which the UN Advocacy Team participated were part of larger policy processes.  As a result, it is much simpler to read about the activities of the team in these process clusters.

Process Cluster 1- The Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals:

     The Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a process that came out of Rio+20, a critical event in the UN’s long sustainable development journey.  The OWG consisted of 13 meetings where Member States, UN agencies, the Major Groups (MGs), and other civil society stakeholders came together to flesh out what is now the foundation of the SDGs and the overall Post-2015 Development Agenda.  Because of the UN Advocacy Team’s leading role in the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), the voices of the Pax Romana and ICMYO played a major part in the policy advocacy and work of the MGCY. 

     Primarily, the UN Advocacy Team helped in the drafting of MGCY statements, lead capacity building workshops (MGCY Youth Blasts) before each OWG, and took a leading role in bilateral meetings with Member States and UN agencies.  The team’s advocacy efforts throughout the OWG process bolstered the strength and position of the MGCY and of the youth-led organizations that were active at each meeting.  At the final OWG in July 2013, the UN Advocacy Team spent the night at the UN and worked tirelessly with Member States, UN agencies, and other NGOs to ensure that the OWG report, which is a negotiated document that spells out what is now the SDGs, was as transformative as possible.   Now, it is safe to say that the goals and targets that will most likely make up the future Sustainable Development Goals have been highly influenced by the efforts of the UN Advocacy Team and others in the MGCY.

Process Cluster 2- The World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka

   IMCS had the very great honor of continuing its work and efforts around the planning and preparations of yet another World Conference on Youth (WCY).  After an open election within ICMYO in 2013, IMCS joined a number of other ICMYO organizations in the planning of the conference through the International Youth Task Force (IYTF), which was made up partly of ICMYO organizations and partly of local youth leaders from Sri Lanka.  Of course, IMCS played a much larger role than the other organizations because of the fact that Christopher Dekki, the UN Advocacy Team Coordinator, was seconded to Sri Lanka with the help of the UN to work directly on the conference with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development of SriLanka.  Nonetheless, this secondment only took place only after a great deal of pressure was put on the Government of Sri Lanka to understand the importance of having a member of the IYTF in Colombo working with all relevant partners and stakeholders.  The need for the secondment became especially apparent after a number of IYTF meetings in Sri Lanka and New York in 2013 and 2014 bore little fruit, even though the IYTF was able to set the policy direction of the WCY and put into place a number of plans that, if followed more closely by the Government of Sri Lanka, would have ensured a more successful WCY.

    Chris’ secondment to the WCY Secretariat in Colombo began in the midst of the chaos of the final conference preparations.  For this reason, his work on behalf of the conference was intense from the moment he moved to Sri Lanka.  Although he was already privy to the problems and aware of what needed to be done, there was very little room for adjustment because of the immediacy with which his time and attention were needed at the WCY Secretariat.

     After attending diplomatic outreach missions in London and New Delhi with the Sri Lankan Minister of Youth and ICMYO leaders from the European Youth Forum (YFJ) and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), as well as a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Chris moved to Colombo to begin his work. Upon his arrival, his first impression of the WCY Secretariat was that it was staffed mainly with volunteers and interns, many of whom lacked any knowledge of development policy and international affairs.  Basic knowledge of geography was completely missing among so many within the Secretariat and this had a negative impact on how official invitations and delegate selection was organized.

   Although everyone at the Secretariat was working very hard and with extreme dedication, notwithstanding the fact that most were volunteers, Chris noticed that there were many mistakes being made, namely in outreach to governments, UN agencies, regional bodies, and critical youth-led organizations.  Those leading these efforts, specifically from the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), simply seemed as if they did not understand how to deal with such sensitive diplomatic issues.  Oftentimes, it seemed as if the MEA just did not care one way or another.  Instead of taking the lead and behaving as it should, the MEA dumped many of its responsibilities on the young people working at the Secretariat.  The MEA provided no guidance to these young people and made no effort to clarify, for example, the difference between the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth of Independent States or the difference between the European Union and the Council of Europe.

   When the time came to begin flight bookings and make final delegate arrangements, even more chaos ensued as those tasked with overseeing the bookings had waited much too long to arrange the flights.   As a result, many delegates did not receive their tickets until the day they were meant to be boarding a plane for Colombo.  Moreover, one of the two travel agencies hired to book flights was exceedingly incompetent.  At one point, local members of the IYTF had to go to the travel agency themselves and take over the flight bookings.  Of course, for a company being paid to do this work, having unpaid volunteers take over is outrageous.  Nevertheless, it is proof that the young people who have been working on this process have been stellar in everything they have done while those with some form of political influence have often been nothing more than obstacles to progress.  When the conference was but a few days away, the difficulties only intensified.  Luckily, the IYTF was on hand to deal with as many issues as possible, namely, a ridiculous plan by the Deputy Minister of Education to have a dinner hosted and sponsored by McDonald’s.  As a team, the IYTF had decided to boycott such a dinner.  Luckily, the Minister of Youth himself intervened and had the dinner cancelled.  Still, the logistical problems with the conference continued to plague the members of the IYTF.  It became so bad that Christine Sudbrock from ICMYO organization the International Falcon Movement – Socialist Education International (IFM-SEI), resigned from the Task Force.  Losing Christine was a major blow as she was the one who had volunteered to organize the rapporteurs for the thematic policy round tables and was the IYTF member responsible for compiling their work from the sessions.

   Nevertheless, although the list of problems with the conference is long and can certainly not be fully tackled in this report, it is important to focus on the successes associated with Chris’ secondment.  Thanks to his placement within the WCY Secretariat, Chris was able to ensure that what the IYTF put into place during their meetings was actually carried out by the Secretariat and the Government of Sri Lanka.  This means that:

 

 

In terms of the outcome document, the Colombo Declaration on Youth  is certainly not revolutionary in regards to policy.  It does not break new ground in the area of youth rights or provide language that is radical in scope.  Nevertheless, it is a critical document going forward primarily because of the process through which it was negotiated.  During the conference, young people were treated like a full Member State, with rights to negotiate and be directly involved in the policy discussions.  This is certainly unprecedented and goes beyond even the very open and civil society-friendly modalities established by the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) and its progeny.  This is mainly the reason why the members of the IYTF and many other youth are excited about what may come next.

Download the whole report