Youth Delegate Program

About the Program

At the UN level, the UN Youth Delegate Programme is an important mechanism that allows Member States to engage, empower and include young people. Youth delegates have the ability to act as partners to communicate our development agenda to their communities at the local level, as well as across countries and regions. They play a pivotal role in bridging national structures with global processes, fostering national ownership, and supporting effective implementation.

Despite robust support for the UN Youth Delegate Programme evident in various General Assembly resolutions, the current reality reveals that only a limited number of Member States have established a regular and comprehensive Youth Delegate Programme.

The initiative “Youth Impact: United Nations” seeks to forge a closer connection between youth and the United Nations. It aims to enhance youth participation in UN decision-making processes through the UN Youth Delegate Programme (UN YDP) while concurrently building the capacity of existing youth delegates to engage more proficiently with the United Nations.

  • Connecting youth to UN decision-making
  • Enhancing youth participation
  • Building capacity of existing youth delegates


How is this Beneficial?

Youth have the potential to be a driving force for positive change. However, when young members of a society are not included in decision-making processes from the beginning, the risk of youth being disengaged is higher. The consequences of this is seen around the world today: political instability, a weak political culture in many countries with high youth populations and skeptic views on the significance of a strong democracy. We are witnessing a demographic bulge with the largest generation of young people that has ever existed. This reality is not represented in many political institutions at the local, national and international level.

In 1981, the UN GA adopted a resolution A/RES/36/17 asking member states “to consider including youth representatives in their national delegations to the General Assembly and to other relevant United Nations meetings”. This call was subsequently repeated in 2013 in resolution A/RES/68/130 where the General Assembly “urges Member States to consider including youth delegates in their delegations at all relevant discussions”. 

The World Program of Action for Youth, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1995, and considered the blueprint for an integrated approach to youth policies at the national level, as well as, the Colombo Declaration on Youth in 2014 also highlights the importance of including youth in decision-making processes at all levels of political participation. 

Despite the existence of robust rhetoric advocating for the inclusion of youth representatives in national delegations to the UN General Assembly, this sentiment has not translated into substantial actions. Only a limited number of Member States have dispatched youth delegates, and the representation primarily hails from developed countries, resulting in a lack of diversity in participation.

National Representatives

What are Youth Delegates?

Youth Delegates are young representatives selected by their Member States to participate as part of their delegation to international and regional meetings. National Youth Delegate Programmes allow Member States to select youth delegates for a fixed time period, and enable Governments to engage, empower and include young people.  

Youth delegates can serve as partners to communicate international agreements, like the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, to their communities at the local level. They can also link national structures with international processes to increase ownership at a national level and support implementation. Numerous Commission of Social Development and General Assembly resolutions encourage Member States to consider including youth in their delegations and to establish a national youth delegate programme, however, around 35 Member States regularly send youth delegates to the UN.  

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) coordinates the UN Youth Delegate Programme at the global level and supports Member States to establish and maintain their programmes. Many civil society partners also assist in the creation of UN Youth Delegate Programme, including the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), which helps UN associations in the start and run national programmes.


We have created a handbook titled “Establishing a National Youth Delegate Programme to the United Nations” to provide youth with the tools to successfully draft a proposal and convince their national governments of the relevance of having a UN Youth Delegate Programme (UN YDP). View and download the handbook at the link below. 

Handbook on Establishing a Youth Delegate Program