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World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) Youth Network

This is the first in a series of profiles on organizations that involve youth in democracy and human rights advocacy. These profiles are intended to be a resource for youth looking to get involved in advocacy, and for groups looking to take inspiration from other groups doing similar work. Read part 1 here.

What is the WFUNA Youth Network?

WFUNA was founded on August 2, 1946, as a network of 22 United Nations Associations (UNAs) that works to support and strengthen the UN. Since then, WFUNA has grown to oversee thousands of members from 100 different UNAs around the world. WFUNA’s Youth Network is the branch of WFUNA that connects United Nations Youth Associations (UNYAs) and UNA youth sections/chapters to empower youth as “civil society activists” and “agents of positive change.”

How does the WFUNA Youth Network work?

  1. Youth Advisory Council: Nine youth leaders from around the world work together to advise the UN Secretary-General on youth issues by brainstorming programming for WFUNA on the local, regional, and international levels.
  2. National UNYA chapters: UNYAs are run entirely by youth volunteers and work to educate young people about the UN’s work, involve youth in civil society activism, and act as a forum for youth to connect and share ideas.
  3. UNA youth sections/chapters: Youth in countries that do not have a UNYA can join the youth section/chapter of their country’s UNA.

What does the WFUNA Youth Network do?

  1. Youth Seminar Series: Skills training, goal setting, and success sharing at annual conferences that bring together WFUNA youth members from around the world.
  2. Target Issues:
    1. Sustainable Development: WFUNA offers an annual five-day Training Program to educate youth on the UN’s work, current global challenges and the skills needed to work in cross-cultural contexts.
      1. Learn more about the Global UN Spotlight Training Program, an online version of the Training Program.
    2. Peace & Security: WFUNA is a member of the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security and supports efforts to incorporate youth voices in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
    3. Human Rights: WFUNA’s Human Rights Youth Program brings youth leaders to Geneva to learn about the international human rights system gives participants the opportunity to execute their own human rights project in their home country.
  3. UNYA programming: Model United Nations, speaker events and UN Youth Delegate programs

How has the WFUNA Youth Network succeeded?

  • Launching youth projects: After participating in WFUNA’s Human Rights Youth Program in 2017, Sapphire Andersen started Tell Her She Can and the #InspireConfidence campaign to support and inspire women in achieving their dreams.
  • Raising up new voices: Fahmida Faiza was the first Bangladeshi elected to the WFUNA Youth Advisory Council for the Asia Region in 2016; she represented WFUNA at the first ever UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law and the first Asia Regional Consultation for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security.
  • Promoting Sustainable Development Goals: WFUNA’s Mission Possible has reached over 500 high school students and teachers, trained students to become Agents of Change, and produced over 75 youth-led projects that focus on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

What best practices can other groups take from the WFUNA Youth Network’s model?

  1. Adopting online training programs has expanded the reach of WFUNA’s Youth Network and increased accessibility for youth who were previously unable to participate.
  2. Segmenting WFUNA’s programming into different target issues allows youth to explore specific interests in depth while also developing broad skills that are applicable to all kinds of activism work.
  3. Covering a broad range of ages—from high school to young working adults—gives youth the flexibility to get involved at different stages.

How can I get involved?

  1. Learn more about the WFUNA Youth Network on their website or contact them for more information.
  2. Follow the WFUNA Youth Network on Facebook or Twitter.
  3. Learn more about how to start your own UNYA or join your local United Nations Association.

DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.

Paulina Song
Publish Date
August 10, 2021