New York/Vienna, 24 May 2021 — Young people have much to lose from corruption, as it affects their employment prospects and impedes their access to basic services such as education and health care.
Over the next three days, 850 young people from 122 countries will gather online for the UNGASS Youth Forum against Corruption to discuss the effect of corruption on young people, and how the international community can better empower youth to actively engage in and help lead the design of future anti-corruption efforts.
Opening the Forum, Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly, said that while youth was one group most hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, this time has also provided young people “with a window on the state of the world as it came to a standstill.”
While youth “have witnessed how the various actors took advantage of this crisis to engage in crime and corruption when lives were at stake,” Mr. Bozkir also emphasized that participants of the Forum represent 1.8 billion young people from all around the globe, and with this, he said, young people “have the power to end corruption, reduce inequalities and create a better world for all.”
“I urge you to use this opportunity to actively be part of solutions," said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly. "True progress relies on you being proactive and positive, to be part of the change that needs to happen. Good examples of good governance need to be celebrated and shared so they can inspire and help others.”
"Your voices will not only be heard here but your perspectives will be communicated to policymakers at the special session. With your help, we can ensure that UNGASS is not just an event but the beginning of transformative global action against corruption," she added.
“Corruption steals from young people and stymies progress - depriving them of a prosperous future,” said the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake. But all too often, “youth are excluded from decision-making, they lack access to information and are victims of corruption.”
Ms. Wickramanayake highlighted that young people "have the capacity to revolutionize the way society views and addresses corruption and while bringing energy, strength, and innovation to create real change.” She underlined the responsibility of the international community to “ensure that young people are not only heard, but understood, not only engaged but empowered, and not only contributing but leading global efforts.”
Youth rapporteurs will summarize the discussions during the UNGASS Youth Forum into a collective youth Statement. This call to action from young people on the current challenges they see in preventing and countering corruption, as well as their expectations of the international community in addressing this crime, will be presented by a Youth Forum representative to world leaders at the UN Special Session of the General Assembly against Corruption 2021 (UNGASS 2021), to be held from 2-4 June in New York.