On 23 November 2019, representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gunda Reire, advisor to the Foreign Minister, opened the first conference of the UN Youth Delegate Programme, “Youth and Foreign Policy”, at the Bauska State Gymnasium. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness among young people on topics on the UN agenda, as well as showing that those matters have impact on the daily life in Latvia.
In her remarks, Gunda Reire underlined that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the participation of young people in the formulation of foreign policy, which is also a broader UN-scale priority set by its Secretary-General António Guterres. Cooperation with a non-governmental youth organisation “Klubs “Māja” – jaunatne vienotai Eiropai” has contributed considerably to the establishment of a Latvian UN Youth Delegates Programme. Kristiāna Plāte became the first delegate representing Latvia in the UN Youth Delegates Programme; she visited the UN Headquarters in New York and took part in both the youth programme and the UN General Assembly High Level Week as a member of Latvian delegation.
Gunda Reire said in her speech to the UN conference in Bauska that multilateralism is one of the instruments to implement Latvia’s foreign policy. Using multilateralism, she noted, we ensure the pursuit of the main foreign policy goals – we strengthen security and increase growth and prosperity in our society. We also have a voice in deciding on global issues. To reinforce its role in the UN system, Latvia contributes to the UN’s daily work and, moreover, has presented its candidacy for a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2026-2027. I’m happy that young Latvians are active in discussing and shaping foreign policy, said Gunda Reire, and she added that the driving force of democracy is an engaged and active citizen.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports events that engage young people in discussion and which allow for hearing and listening to their views. The Foreign Ministry is also a partner in the UN simulation games that are organised by the UNESCO Latvian National Commission. In 2020, the UN will celebrate its 75th anniversary; therefore, young people’s ideas are also going to be heard at the UN anniversary events in Latvia and in the consideration of issues of current importance for the United Nations.
During the conference, the young delegates worked in six groups, focussing on a particular global problem.
The UN Youth Delegate Programme is a UN initiative to promote youth participation in their own country’s administration. UN youth delegates are members of their countries’ official delegations at UN events. The role of a youth delegate in the country delegation is to provide his or her input on issues related to young people, assisting the national delegation within the limits of their abilities and building cooperation with youth delegates from other countries. Latvia has joined the programme recently and is taking part for the first time.
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