You are here

Samarkand Forum on Human Rights “Youth 2020: Global Solidarity, Sustainable Development and Human Rights” is be held on August 12-13, 2020 as part of the UN75 initiative to discuss the important and positive role of youth in sustainable development, preventing crises and ensuring gender equality, realizing human rights and building a culture of peace.

The main goal of Samarkand Forum is to discuss improvements on existing international and regional instruments and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of youth rights, as well as the role of youth in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN World Program on Human Rights Education.

During the Samarkand Forum plans were also made to discuss the draft Convention on the Rights of Youth, which is a new document reflecting the specific rights of youth that are necessary for recognition in the modern world.

The forum is expected to be attended by about 700 local and foreign experts, representatives of parliaments, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, state coordinating bodies for reporting and follow-up, national human rights institutions, youth organizations, civil society organizations, representatives of the media, and representatives of international and regional organizations.

Ms. Alanna Armitage, UNFPA Regional Direcor for Eastern Europe and Central Asia made participated in the opening and addressed to the participants of the Forum with the following speech:

It is a true pleasure to join you all virtually on this International Youth Day to celebrate youth and human rights.

I wish to congratulate Uzbekistan and the National Center for Human Rights for championing such important dialogues despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear young people,

As we mark International Youth Day in the midst of a global pandemic, we are witnessing how young people are taking action to solve problems in their communities.

In Tashkent we saw student volunteers help thousands of families and older adults delivering supplies, food and essential medicines, and provide psychosocial support.

But that is only one side of the story. Among the devastating effects of the pandemic, the loss of opportunities for employment, education and access to essential services, means that many young people’s rights and choices are under threat across the world. Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable.

One of the most fundamental expressions of human rights being fully realized for young people is choice.

Choice happens when young people can make decisions about their lives, their health, their education and employment.

Our new UNFPA global strategy for adolescents and youth, entitled ‘My body, my life, my world’, is extremely timely as a tool that supports governments, young people and other stakeholders to address the challenges around autonomous, informed and responsible choice.

This strategy is firmly rooted in human rights, and puts young people at the very center of sustainable development. In doing so it aligns with the new United Nations Strategy on Youth.

And we see choice blossoming everywhere in the region, as young women and men, boys and girls, use the opportunities our changing world provides to shape their lives and pursue their futures.

But not everyone benefits equally. In fact, large parts of society are still excluded from having access to information and education and human rights protections so that they can make choices free from discrimination, coercion and violence. And the COVID-19 pandemic is making this worse.

As modern societies, we cannot afford to exclude the potential and talents of millions of young people facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and exclusion: girls and young women, young people with disabilities, young migrants, minorities, and other groups pushed to the margins.

As we seek to build back better following the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that young people are prioritized in order to have access to the education, tools, and services necessary for them to reach their full potential.

Moreover, the voices and perspectives of young people need to be heard, respected and nurtured.

As High Commissioner for human rights Michel Bachelet highlighted a few moments ago, only in an environment free from violence and coercion, young people will be enabled to speak out, sometimes critically, without fear from reprisals, intimidation and harassment.

This is not just a moral imperative. It goes to the heart of a country’s ability to steer towards long-term stability and prosperity.

The good news is there are signs of change everywhere, including in Uzbekistan.

I’m very pleased that UNFPA is working closely with the government of Uzbekistan, especially the Senator’s office, the Ministries of Health, Public Education and Higher Specialised Education, civil society, and others, on a wide range of issues related to young people’s opportunities and choices.

I’m particularly pleased about the excellent partnerships we have forged on issues like introducing healthy lifestyle education in schools and the establishment of a youth parliament of Uzbekistan.

These transformations bring us closer to realizing the vision formulated some 25 years ago, at the ground-breaking International Conference on Population and Development, and reaffirmed last year by Uzbekistan at the Nairobi Summit.

A vision that firmly places the rights and choices of the individual at the heart of the international development agenda.

Today, as we mark International Youth Day, UNFPA reiterates its commitment to Uzbekistan to support the country’s efforts make rights and choices a reality for everyone – through laws and policies, through information and services, and most importantly through the engagement, participation and leadership of adolescents and youth.

Unleashing the full potential of young people is central to the transformative promise of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, 

As our UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said today in her statement on International Youth Day, “let’s join hands across generations. Let’s come together and rise to the challenges before us, working with youth to build a more inclusive, sustainable future for all.”

Allow me once again to congratulate Uzbekistan for its efforts to promote the rights and choices of the young generation and relay best wishes for a successful event!