Some fifty young people recently gathered together in a Skopje café with UN’s Human Rights Advisor Silva Pesic and UNDP’s Youth Project Coordinator Dejan Dokuzovski to learn more about the UN’s Universal Periodic Review and to offer their own input into the post-2015 agenda.
The Universal Periodic Review is a review of the human rights records of all UN member states. Initiated in 2006, this unique process reminds states of their responsibilities to fully respect and implement all human rights and freedoms and to address any violations of human rights. The Universal Periodic Review “has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
The gathering was organized as part of UNDP’s long-term commitment to promoting the inclusion of young people in the development of all policies that affect their lives.
“With UNDP’s Youth Project we are aiming to ensure that the opinions of young people are heard and taken into account in decision-making at local and national level,” explains Dejan. “It’s about empowering young people so that they have a say in their future.”
One of the topics discussed was the UN’s My World 2015 survey, a global online survey that allows people to have a direct say in shaping a better world.
“We had tablets and a laptop at the café,” says Dejan, “so everyone got a chance to vote for their priorities. Their votes matter because all the data collected from the My World survey will be used to inform decision-makers around the world in defining the priorities of the UN’s global agenda for future development.”
The voting was followed by a discussion about why the participants had selected certain priorities.
Jana, 23, a recent college graduate, believes that education should be a top priority. She argues that the education process in the country and the wider region needs new methodologies. In particular, she stresses that more practical experience is needed in education in order to better prepare young graduates for employment after college.
Ivan, 22, believes that a major focus area should be better job opportunities. Many young people are still looking for a job over a year after graduation. One of the main problems, he says, is that the jobs that are currently available do not match many graduates’ qualifications. He also highlights the lack of real entry-level positions for youth and the need for a comprehensive system of traineeship and practical work experience in companies for undergraduates during their studies.
The UN just recently began promoting the My World 2015 survey in the country and already over 1,500 people have cast their global vote. The votes collected so far show that most voters share the same priorities as Jana and Ivan: they want to see efforts concentrated on improving education, improving job opportunities and ensuring the provision of better healthcare.