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Organization of American States to Host 4th Youth Conference Focused on Education and Migration

  November 26, 2014

The Organization of American States (OAS) will host, on December 2, 2014, the Youth Conference of the Americas 2014, with the central theme “Education and Migration” at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington, DC.

During the event, representatives of youth organizations and delegations from universities and schools across the Americas will exchange perspectives with experts from the OAS and the private sector, member and observer states, governmental representatives, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations on the issue of the relationship between education and migration, and its impact on young people’s decisions to migrate. The meeting will explore the situation of young migrants: the challenges they face, the endless possibilities that they offer to the development of their receiving countries, as well as what their countries of origin can do to provide them with more opportunities to thrive at home.

Youth Migration

According to data from the United Nations, international migration has increased constantly in recent years, becoming an established characteristic of the contemporary social and economic landscape for many young people. Youth migrants constitute a relatively large portion of the global migrant population in general and have an important impact in the communities of the countries of origin, transit and destination.

When young people emigrate, they tend to improve both their own financial situation and that of their families, through the income they earn and the remittances they send home. In certain contexts, migration also strengthens the authority of young female migrants in decision-making both in the family and in society, leading to greater gender equality.

But the impact of migration on young people and their communities is complex. Migration often exposes young people, in particular young women and girls, to greater risks of abuse, discrimination and exploitation. The absence of parents often increases the vulnerability of young people, and adolescents often experience difficulties in the process of becoming integrated into their new communities, which can make them easy targets for organized crime.

Recent Events

When the number of unaccompanied minors to the United States skyrocketed this year, reaching more than 68,000, largely from Central America, the OAS Permanent Council held a meeting with the Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that resulted in a Declaration, which noted that “the phenomenon of child migration should be approached from a comprehensive perspective that considers and includes migration measures as well as economic and social policies in all the countries involved.” The document also urged the international community and the countries of origin “to jointly allocate resources to foster economic development, social inclusion, employment opportunities, and citizen security in order to reduce the impetus for migration to other countries in search of opportunities not found in the countries of origin.”

In his July 2014 address to the International Conference on Migration, Childhood and Family in Tegucigalpa, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, offered to the states of the region the mechanisms of protection and spaces for dialogue of the Organization in the joint search for integral solutions to the crisis. He insisted, moreover, on the need to generate “a regional plan of action to allow for the coordination of actions between all the countries that are protagonists of the migratory phenomenon in our Hemisphere. I do so emphasizing the urgency of addressing in a joint manner – all the states involved, international organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector – the possible strategies to overcome the conditions that are worsening this process in the countries of origin.”

“The analysis of the regions and communities of origin of the children detained at the border and the reasons they migrated alone vary: the majority of the Guatemalan children come from rural areas, with high indices of poverty, and say they are migrating in search of better living conditions, while the Salvadorans and Hondurans come from extremely violent regions, and believe that the risk of staying is worse than that of emigrating,” said Secretary General Insulza.

In comments made on this year’s International Youth Day, celebrated on August 12, the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS and Chair of the Inter-Departamental Working Group on Youth, Albert Ramdin, said “the Americas is home to hundreds of millions of youth and regardless of country, ethnicity or status, they are strategic game changers who cannot be ignored. We must make deliberate investments to tap into their potential by ensuring access to more opportunities.”

The OAS Youth Conference

The opening ceremony of the event will feature an address by Secretary General Insulza, as well as remarks from Assistant Secretary General Ramdin. Next, participants will hear keynote addresses from the First Ladies of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez; and Honduras, Ana Garcia de Hernández.

The Conference will then include two debates: one focused on “Youth Migration: Transforming the Americas,” and a second on “Creating Opportunity at Home and Abroad.” The first debate will feature the participation of Luca Dall’Oglio, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Washington Office; Jason Jackson, Visiting Lecturer and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; and Jacqueline Mazza of the Labor Markets and Social Security Unit of the Inter-American Development Bank. The second debate will include Lori Kaplan, President and CEO of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC); Jordi Muñoz, Co-Founder and CTO of 3D Robotics of Mexico; Maxine Williams, Global Head of Diversity for Facebook; Winnette McIntosh-Ambrose, Owner of the Sweet Lobby; Alexander Torrenegra, Partner and Co-Founder of Torrenegra Labs of Colombia; and Maximiliano Campos, of the OAS Department for Sustainable Development.

”The Way Forward-the Role of the Government and the Private Sector,” will be the focus of the last discussion group, moderated by Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, and featuring the Minister of Youth and Culture of Jamaica, Lisa Hanna; the Director General of the Mexican Youth Institute, José Manuel Romero Coello; the UN Secretary General´s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi; the Director of Public Policy for US States, Latin America and Canada for Google, John Burchett; the Commercial Director for Mexico and Central America of the Manpower Group, Héctor Márquez; and the Vice President for Corporate Government Affairs at Cisco Systems, Michael Timmeny.

The Conference´s closing remarks will be delivered by Assistant Secretary General Ramdin.

WHAT: OAS Youth Conference of the Americas 2014 “Education and Migration”

WHEN: December 2, 2014

WHERE: Hall of the Americas
Organization of American States
17th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20006

Reference: E-498/14