Youth Pre-Conference adopts "Charter of Bahia" with a call for action

Photo: UNFPA

26 May 2010 - With an unanimous applause at the closing ceremony of the Youth Pre-Conference of the Americas, a final document was approved, containing a "call to action" with 44 points and a set of 16 proposals agreed in the event. Called "Charter of Bahia" (in Portuguese), the document brought together the main contributions of the youngsters, government representatives, parliamentarians and civil society participants in the Pre-Conference, which were intensely discussed during the three-day meeting.

UNDP's regional advisor, representing the United Nations Regional Directors Team for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Interagency Group for Youth, Mr. Stefano Petinatto, called the Pre-Conference "a great success". He said the meeting "noted that the theme of youth is transversal and therefore very complex, because it is linked to very distinct and important issues at the same time". He stressed the importance of the meeting of Brazil as a learning exercise and preparation for World Youth Conference, to be held in Mexico in August. He also stressed the need to follow up the commitments, in order to assure their implementation.

According to the president of the Brazilian National Youth Council, Danilo Moreira, "the Pre-Conference was moved by the commitment of each one". In his view, the Charter of Bahia marks a new stage for the youth of the Americas and the world, to include youth as subject of rights and indispensable for a new development model, based on inclusion and sustainability.

Two young leaders represented the youth at the closing ceremony. One of them was Michelle Ribeiro, who commented on the importance of the dialogue process that was established, which brought opportunities for distinguished contributions and allowed the discussion of issues such as diversity in gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, geographical and religious aspects, and allowed "to share our knowledge, anxieties and expectations". According to Maurice Burke, of the National Youth Council of Trinidad and Tobago, the major breakthrough was achieved to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers that allowed the dialogue between youth from all regions, especially between Latin America and the Caribbean.

Charter of Bahia

In its 10 pages and 12 issues, the Charter of Bahia recognizes the common challenge to the entire region to combat poverty and inequality, as well as the goal of improving the training of the youngsters so that they may become strategic players of the countries progress and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Among the main points agreed, there are efforts to the elimination of discrimination and inequality, the promotion of decent work and youth participation in the formulation of public policies and a quest for gender, ethnic and race equality in all public policies. It also refers to new policies to prevent the criminalization of the youngsters and to reduce mortality resulting from violence.

The Charter of Bahia also refers to health as an element of inclusion: the document calls for a better quality of life for youths in the Americas, taking into account the ethnic, race and gender diversity, with the right of full access to sexual health and reproductive services, and equal access to programs to prevent unintended pregnancies and the decision making about pregnancy. It also proposes the stimulation of prevention programmes for HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality of young women.

In the chapter of propositions, the governmental forum is committed to foster the formulation of a universal declaration of youth and convene a new meeting between governments, parliamentarians and civil society in 2012 with the aim of evaluating the progress of the regional agenda for youth and propose new lines of action.

Civil society organizations will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the agreements signed within the framework of the International Youth Year, with the support of governments and international organizations. In addition, they request the statistical offices in their countries to produce statistics with cuts by age group to guide policies aimed at youth.

Conference of Mexico

On behalf of the host country of the World Youth Conference, the director of the Mexican Institute of Youth, Priscila Vera, congratulated the organizers of the Pre-Conference and considered the Charter of Bahia as a basic input for the meeting in Mexico. She added that interested parties can now register for the Global Interactive Forum to be held as part of the World Conference, seeking to stimulate discussion among young people around the world. With support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), an online platform called Fusion is now available, allowing public consultations and discussions to promote virtual debates and provide information for the World Conference. "We will not let any young person without participation", said Priscila Vera. To link to register in the Interactive Forum is available on the World Conference of Youth website:

Source: UNFPA / Brazil

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