Media Center

Press Release


  September 20, 2007

The Organization of American States (OAS) has repeated its call for more investment in youth “as a strategic effort in the future of the hemisphere.” Youth leaders and officials concluded their two-day event at OAS headquarters, amidst calls for a ministerial meeting to consider youth empowerment and other youth-centered priorities.

Recommendations from the young people themselves include making the educational curricula better tailored to the needs the job market; institutional strengthening and capacity-building of civil society; and facilitating the marketing of skills, talents and goods and services of young entrepreneurs. As well, they called for a commitment to establish an OAS observatory to supervise and research programs on underserved young people and youth at risk; and initiatives to bridge the “digital divide.”

Permanent Council Chair, Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador Deborah-Mae Lovell, presided at Thursday’s special Permanent Council session, outlining a six-point program including a youth ministerial to examine the question of youth empowerment; a hemispheric youth week; a mentoring program, as well as an OAS youth ambassadors program and instituting in the hemispheric organization a focal point to look at all questions pertaining to youth.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin told participants that beyond the investment in youth, efforts should be made to “mainstream youth as a cross-cutting issue in OAS projects and programs.” He said this would add to existing cross-cutting agenda items such as gender and civil society, and he argued that this is needed at the multilateral level as well as in national development plans.

Hailing the historic OAS youth meeting as “fruitful,” Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said society clearly must address youth challenges in employment, education and health, not only on an ad hoc basis but based on an understanding of the underlying causes of youth problems, so as to formulate policies, mechanisms and initiatives to effectively deal with the problems. Absent such a framework, “we will face future instability in our society.” Policies must also be developed to break the cycle of “inter-generational transmission of poverty” by providing opportunity for education and social progress, Ramdin insisted.

Among the youth presenters, Georgetown University graduate student Jason Langsner asserted that “improving connectivity will also foster economic development and entrepreneurship, spur foreign direct investment, and offer access to the vast amounts of information available on the web… it will offer the ability for hemispheric harmonization and standardization and empower the youth of the Americas to become involved in public policy through e-Government and e-Diplomacy initiatives.”

María de los Dolores Aguilar Marmolejo, Director General of the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) shared elements of the Institute’s plan of action around work on violence in the media, among others. She spoke about efforts to set up an inter-American observatory on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, which she said “violates every aspect of the dignity of the rights of children.”

Ahead of the special Permanent Council meeting, a symposium was held on Wednesday, under the theme of “Empowering the Future Leaders of the Americas,” focused: Responsible citizenship and participation in democratic governance; Employment, entrepreneurship and innovation for young people; Opportunities and programs for youth development; Underserved young people and youth at risk; and Education and information technologies.

The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Trust for the Americas collaborated on the two days of OAS meetings and dialogues that spotlighted challenges facing the hemisphere’s youth, and possible approaches to tackling them.

Reference: E-231/07