UNODC and Youth

As the world advances the Decade of Action to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the participation of young people has become ever more imperative to create new pathways for positive change and innovation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - including SDG 16 - cannot be effectively achieved without meaningful youth engagement, which empowers them to take positive actions in their communities. It is important to address the multifaceted socio-economic, security, political, and health challenges posed to young generations - including those stemming from COVID-19 pandemic - in a balanced and comprehensive manner. This is done by investing in and working with and for youth, through youth-sensitive, human rights-based and people-centred approaches, has become increasingly prominent in the international agenda.
This is also in line with the objectives expressed by the United Nations Secretary-General in its report Our Common Agenda, which clearly indicates that delivering on the priorities of young people and meaningfully including them in decision-making are investments that will lead immediate and long-term benefits for the future.

Our Work

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports Member States in making the world safer from drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism and promotes security and justice for all.
Youth and young people are essential to accomplish UNODC’s mandates, enhance the rule of law, improve human security, and pursue justice, integrity, and health priorities.
More specifically, UNODC has the mandate to support Member States in engaging youth in crime prevention efforts and in evidence-based drug use prevention as well as ensuring that youth and children are better served and protected by the justice systems. The Office also promotes strict compliance with and enhanced implementation of relevant UN resolutions and international tools, as well as increased engagement in major coordination frameworks focusing on youth policies.
The UNODC Brussels Liaison Office works with its close partners in order to mainstream youth perspectives, encourage youth voices and ideas, and empower their meaningful participation and engagement in peace and security, sustainable development and human rights promotion.
As a cross-cutting topic, significant attention is placed on crime prevention and education, tailored to meet the specific requirements of youth. Along these lines feature the implementation and integration of the Kyoto Declaration, adopted by the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and specifically its commitments highlighting the role of youth in crime prevention and the need for their empowerment to promote the rule of law.

Our Cooperation with the EU

The participation and empowerment of next generations represent a major cross-cutting priority of the European Union (EU), as clearly recognized in the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, the 2020 Council Conclusions on Youth in External Action, the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, to name a few. The importance of youth for the EU has been also signalled by the Commission proposal to make 2022 the European Year of Youth, aimed at shining a light on the importance of European youth to build a better future – greener, more inclusive and digital.
UNODC has a long-standing cooperation with the EU in policy development and standard-setting work, and in assisting partner countries and regions to address key security challenges emanating from drugs problem, organized crime, corruption and terrorism, including with regards to children and youth. 
The European Union is currently contributing to UNODC work to end violence against children and to protect children and youth from the harms of drugs. The STRIVE Juvenile project is a flagship example of the EU-UNODC partnership that supports national responses to terrorism and violent extremism affecting children.

Our Cooperation with Belgium

Youth, peace and security, promotion of human rights, with particular regard to children and the protection of civilians in crises, especially protection of children in armed conflicts, are considered among the most important elements of Belgium’s foreign policy and peace-building priorities for 2022. Belgium’s commitment to the topic was also showed at the UN Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, which, under its leadership, adopted fifteen consensus texts on how to deal with violations of children's rights in some of the most controversial country dossiers.
UNODC works alongside its Belgian partners in addressing the risks caused by trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, and terrorism, including through joint actions on the ground and support to awareness raising events and sensitization campaigns.

Additional Information


Future Events

  • June 2022 - High-Level Thematic Debate on “Enhancing youth mainstreaming in crime prevention policies” organised with the support of the President of the General Assembly

  • 30 July 2022 - World Day against Trafficking in Persons

  • September 2022 - Transforming Education Summit convened by UN Secretary-General

  • October 2022 - Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime