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United Nations World Youth Report 2005

 World Youth Report 2005: Expanded book versionThe year 2005 marks ten years since the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth in 1995. This report, an official report to the General Assembly, called for a renewed committment to the goals of the World Programme of Action, since over 200 million youth were living in poverty, 130 million youth were illiterate, 88 million were unemployed and 10 million young people were living with HIV/AIDS.

In the World Youth Report 2005, it is argued that too often, youth policy is driven by negative stereotypes of young people, including delinquency, drug abuse and violence. What seems to be forgotten is that young people are a positive force for development, peace, and democracy.

Read what happened at the Press Conference or see archived webcast of the special event to launch WYR2005 and the press briefing or listen to a UN Radio Programme.

World Youth Report 2005
Young people today, and in 2015 (expanded version)


World Youth Report 2005
Report of the Secretary-General (A/60/61)

Overview of main findings  

  • Poverty: Over 200 million young people, or 18 per cent of all youth, live on less than one dollar a day, and 515 million on less than two dollars a day. It is unclear if the poverty situation of young people worldwide has improved or deteriorated since 1995.
  • Education: Since 1995, the number of children completing primary school has continued to increase, and four out of five young people in the eligible age group are now in secondary school. Also tertiary enrolment has increased; it is estimated that globally, some 100 million youth are currently enrolled in university-level education. The current generation of youth is the best-educated so far. Yet, 113 million children are not in school; this compares with the current cohort of 130 million youth who are illiterate.
  • Employment: Despite the fact that youth are receiving more education, youth unemployment in the world has increased to record levels. Youth unemployment, at a total of 88 million, is highest in the Western Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. There is increased pressure on young people to compete in a globalizing labour market.
  • Health: Globally, young people are reaching adolescence at earlier ages and marrying later. Premarital sexual relations appear to be increasing. Although early pregnancy has declined in many countries, it is still a large concern. HIV/AIDS is the first cause of mortality of youth, followed by violence and injuries.
  • Environment: Young people continue to be concerned for the sustainable future, although there is a need to increase their involvement in decision-making processes that relate to the environment.
  • Drug abuse: There has been an unprecedented emergence of the use of synthetic drugs worldwide, mostly used in recreational settings. Partial restrictions on marketing of alcohol and tobacco have not yet prevented higher use in developing countries; demand of illicit substances among youth in developing countries has increased to levels typically found in industrialized countries.
  • Juvenile delinquency: Delinquency committed by youth continues to be perceived as a threat to society. In some countries this has led to an active incarceration and deterrence policy, which may have reduced crimes committed by young offenders; this policy has however comes at a high cost.
  • Leisure: The last decade has seen a growing recognition of the vital contribution that leisure time can make for young people in terms of promoting social inclusion, access to opportunities and overall development. Young people are increasingly seeking and finding new ways to spend their free time, both out of necessity and interest.
  • Girls and young women: There has been greater awareness of gender issues among governments. However, equal access to higher education and labour markets continues to be a concern in some countries, negative stereotypes of women have continued to persist, both in old and in new media.
  • Participation in decision-making: The past decade has seen a growing recognition of the importance of youth participation in decision-making. New efforts to include youth in decision-making must recognize the changing patterns and structures presently occurring in youth movements.
  • Globalization: Youth are most flexible and perhaps best able to adapt to and make use of new opportunities offered by globalization. Yet many youth especially in developing countries, have not benefited. Globalization has had an impact on global youth employment opportunities, and on migration patterns; it has led to deep changes in youth culture and consumerism, and in different manifestations of global youth citizenship and activism.
  • Information and communication technology: The proliferation of ICTs that has accompanied the process of globalization in the past ten years has presented both opportunities and challenges for young people. The global digital divide affects young people as well.
  • HIV/AIDS: Ten million young people currently live with HIV/AIDS, mostly in Africa and Asia. The spread of the virus has had a devastating impact on young people’s sexual and reproductive health. Young people are particularly vulnerable to contract the virus.
  • Youth and conflict: Young people have been disproportionately involved in conflicts over the past decade. Despite the international legal framework to protect minors and prevent their engagement in conflict situations, there has not been an improvement on the ground.
  • Intergenerational relations: The share of youth in the world’s total population is gradually shrinking, and youth development will increasingly be viewed for the potential benefits it can bring to other generations. Despite its changing structure, the family remains the first social institution where generations meet and interact.

Twelve recommendations

  • With over 200 million youth living in poverty, 130 million youth illiterate, 88 million unemployed and 10 million young people living with HIV/AIDS, the case for a renewed commitment to the goals of the World Programme of Action is clear.
  • The dichotomy of youth in developed versus developing countries is becoming less apparent with urbanization, globalization, and the emergence of a global media-driven youth culture.
  • Too often, youth interventions are driven by negative stereotypes of young people, including delinquency, drug abuse and violence.
  • Investing in youth starts with children. Intensified commitment and investment now in the Millennium Development Goals will have enormous benefits for the young people of 2015.
  • There is a strong need to scale up the investments in youth.
  • Young people should be seen as partners in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Governments at all levels are encouraged to develop and implement integrated youth policies, making linkages between the different priority areas for youth development. There is also a continued need to pay special attention to various disadvantaged groups of young people in followup action on the World Programme of Action. These would include the special needs of young people with disabilities, young migrants, and indigenous youth, among others.
  • A set of verifiable indicators, some of which could be drawn from the Millennium Development Goals, would allow for better measurement of progress achieved for young people in the future.
  • On the tenth anniversary of the World Programme of Action, it would be appropriate to explore the possibility to provide a mandate for increased coordination within the United Nations system.
  • The General Assembly may consider formally adopting the five new issues of concern identified in this report and append those to the priorities of the World Programme of Action. The information provided in this this shows the case for doing so.
  • Young people should form part of the delegations to the special meetings of the General Assembly at its sixtieth session that will mark the tenth anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth in 2005.
  • Governments should continuously evaluate their youth policy, and involve young people in the evaluation.