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C3: Policies and programmes involving youth

Explanation of Vote by the Nordic-Baltic countries delivered by Adviser Paul Øystein Bjørdal on US amendments to the draft resolution Policies and programmes involving youth, 19 November 2019.

| Third Committee

Mr. Chair,

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Norway.

We would like to express our wholehearted support for, and sincere appreciation to, Cabo Verde, Kazakhstan and Portugal, for having presented this important resolution on policies and programmes involving youth. We appreciate that the main sponsors have conducted numerous open, transparent and constructive informal consultations over the past weeks.

This resolution is a genuine and sincere cross-regional initiative on an important topic on the involvement of youth in program and policies that affect their lives and future. They are going to inherit the challenges and problems that our generation are unable to solve. Thus, they should be heard and involved.

The resolution is a leading example of what this Committee is capable of when countries from different parts of the world come together to tackle major challenges as a global and interconnected community. It is in essence showing what multilateralism is about.

Therefore, it is with disappointment the Nordic-Baltic countries feels compelled to ask for the floor to make a general statement before the vote, in connection to the amendment, L.66 and L.67, just presented by the delegation of the United States.

This resolution has been adopted by consensus with wide cross-regional co-sponsorship for many years. We therefore regret that the United States seeks to alter a carefully crafted compromise in OP 10 and undermine this resolution by suggesting new language that is inconsistent with what this Committee recently agreed on in the Resolution on the Rights of the Child. Yesterday, this committee resoundingly rejected a very similar amendment by the United States.

In amendment L.67, the United States seeks to delete formerly agreed language “sexual and reproductive health care” and “comprehensive education” in the resolution.

What is being challenged today is the safety and well-being of every young person. Universal access to education and health, including sexual and reproductive health education and care, is life saving. That is an indisputable fact. Far too many young girls die every year from preventable complications following from pregnancy and childbirth.

Comprehensive sexuality education is an important tool to ensure that every young person is able to make informed choices in their life based on scientifically accurate information. Comprehensive sexuality education comprises a rights-based approach in providing information on gender equality, healthy relationships, non-discrimination and violence, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. By amending this language, the General Assembly sets a negative precedent, moving us backwards and undermines the rights of young persons.

As per the usual practice, when we can’t agree to new elements, we go back to what we have agreed before. This goes with all amendments at hand. Undermining important and agreed language on this resolution doesn’t serve anyone any good but rather risk having negative consequences. This will impact first and foremost the enjoyment of human rights of all young women and girls, as well as boys and young men.

For these reasons, the Nordic-Baltic countries cannot support the two amendments, L.66 and L.67 put forward by the United States, and will vote against them. We call on all other Member States to do the same.

Thank you.