C3: Social development

Observer Statement on Social development by Mr. Jarle Aarbakke Tollaksen, KrFU (Young Christian Democrats) and Ms. Margrete Bjørge Katanasho, Press Save The Children Youth Norway, 4 October 2016.

Chair, distinguished delegates,

It is an honor and pleasure to be taking part in the 71th session of the UN General Assembly and to be able to speak to you as youth on behalf of Norway.
We gather in an exceptional time. Currently there are 65 million victims of forced displacement in the world, including 20 million refugees. Never before has the world seen so many people fleeing their homes, seeking refuge elsewhere. With this in mind we wish to adress two issues pertaining to the rights of refugees.  
Chair, Half of all the displaced persons in the world today are children, many of which flee on their own, without parents or caregivers to protect them.

These unaccompanied refugee children are an especially vulnerable group. Many of them have endured trauma before leaving their homes, and while in flight, they are exposed to dangers such as violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. 
We are concerned that children, including unaccompanied refugee children, are victims of human rights violations. It is our responsibility as member states to ensure the universality of the human rights, and therefore our responsibility to protect the rights of all refugee children.

Chair,  Access to quality education has been chosen as one of the main priorities through the SDGs. Still, UNHCR estimates that half of all refugee children are outside of primary education today. Girls and children with disabilities are particularly at risk of being marginalized. 
Education is not only a human right, but also enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Refugee Convention. In times of displacement, education is essential to allow children to live meaningful lives.

Furthermore, safe learning environments makes children less vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution, or human trafficking. It is therefore of the outmost importance to ensure that refugee children have access to education.

We urge all member states to endorse UNHCRs #whitrefugees demands, to ensure all refugee children get an education and a safe place to live.   

Chair, Some of the most vulnerable groups of people affected by the current refugee crisis are sexual minorities. A number of LGBTI-persons are forced to flee their homes every year, in order to escape execution, torture, arbitrary arrest and general persecution.

LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers are in a particularly vulnerable position, often being subject to severe social exclusion and violence both by home countries, receiving countries, as well as by asylum seeker and refugee communities.

These violations are a major threat to the universality of the human rights we all have sworn to protect. It is the responsibility of all member states to protect all its citizens and all their rights no matter the color of their skin, religious beliefs, political opinion, sex, disabilities, sexual orientation or gender identity.

National and religious particularities, as well as historical and cultural backgrounds, does not exempt governments from their responsibility to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals during its last session, and following this commitment all member states are now responsible for fulfilling the promise of leaving no one behind.

The implementation of the SDGs needs to take into account the voices of the people who, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have historically been excluded. These goals must be fulfilled for all - including LGBTI-persons.


We call for all member states to undertake a review of the conditions of human rights for LGBTI-persons.

We strongly recommend all member states to cooperate with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the discharge of his mandate.

We call for all member states to take into account the voices of LGBTI-persons in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Including the perspectives of youth in meeting the challenges of the current refugee crisis is of outmost importance. Youth are not only the future; youth are the present.

Thank you.