Think of the most pressing challenges facing young people around the world today: violent extremism, humanitarian and health crises, civil unrest, sexual orientation and gender discrimination, climate change, among others. In all these areas, the work of United Nations system is both ubiquitous and necessary. Recognizing the value of youth voices and participation to the UN system, since 2012, the U.S. Department of State has partnered with the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) to designate a U.S. Youth Observer to the UN.
The Department recently announced the opening of the 2015-16 application period which runs until August 4, 2015. For eligible Americans (ages 18-25) passionate about the role of the UN in international affairs, the U.S. Youth Observer program provides a chance to travel throughout the United States to identify issues important to young Americans, access to UN events alongside with U.S. delegations to international organization conferences, including annual UN General Assembly opening debates, interaction with youth representatives from other nations and participation in public activities through the next year.
The third and most recent U.S. Youth Observer, Jackson Dougan from Oregon, was chosen from a pool of over 600 applicants. During the past year, he has traveled with members from the U.S. Department of State to international meetings in Paris, Geneva, and Baku, Azerbaijan; cultivated his passions for LGBT equality and climate change mitigation, expanded his perception of the interconnectedness of the world’s biggest problems, and strengthened his commitment to the UN’s work.
"During my time as the Observer, I have created lasting relationships with young people worldwide including life-long connections with Youth Delegates from nearly 44 countries of the United Nations… I have interacted with policy makers at Foggy Bottom and discussed youth policy with world leaders… My career prospects have blossomed in addition to my career focus -- where I see myself in 10 years," Jackson writes.
For more information on the application process, and to learn more about the 2014-2015 U.S. Youth Observer, please visit www.unausa.org/usyouth.
About the Author: Yuna Jacobson serves as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.