Strike!! No OSGEY-MISK Youth Forum-

People and Planet are not for Sale

20th September 2019

The United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY), as the formal self-organised engagement mechanism for young people in the United Nations, is issuing this statement of NON- SUPPORT of the OSGEY-MISK Youth Forum (henceforth referred to as “The Forum”), which was meant to take place on 23 September 2019 in New York City at the New York Public Library. 

The Forum was/is organized by the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY) and the MISK Foundation (Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation, a non-profit foundation established by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman).

In light of a widely circulated petition that highlights the normalization of human rights violations, restrictions on freedom of speech and press, and other concerns (raised by our membership) such as skepticism towards the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings by the founders and members of the board of this foundation, the UN MGCY membership requests that the UN and other partners distance themselves from The Forum. The Forum is a voluntary engagement between a UN entity and a private foundation, and not a member state of the United Nations or another UN entity.

We commend the move by the New York Public Library to cancel its premises as a venue for The Forum, but are disappointed that the MISK Foundation has already announced they are arranging  a new venue.

Based on publicly available information, we understand that the partnership on The Forum is part of a long-term Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MISK Foundation and the OSGEY that involves other joint initiatives and resource mobilisation. While enhancing investments toward young people is imperative, we are deeply disappointed with highlighted aspects of this partnership. 

We also understand that several participants of the UN Youth Climate Summit (those funded through a process that was coordinated by the OSGEY) taking place on 21 September 2019, have received invitations to this Forum, which some of the invitees have found to be coercive.

We also take note that the publicity material on the website of the Forum includes the “Youth 2030” logo of the UN Youth Strategy, which could wrongly imply a formal association between The Forum and actors involved in the Youth Strategy. 

Let it be stated that:

  • As a voice of young people to the High Level Steering Committee of the UN Youth Strategy and as a mechanism for young people to engage in the UN, the UN MGCY, and the formal constituencies in its coordination team are not associated with and do not support The Forum in any way.  

  • The UN MGCY and the formal constituencies in its coordination team do not recognise any outcomes from The Forum to feed into any UN process or engagement avenues where the UN MGCY and the formal constituencies in its coordination team play a role and urge all other stakeholders to do the same. Instead, we reach out to the young people attending to engage in the many sessions on a broad range of topics organised by youth entities, UN agencies and other partners, including the UN MGCY during the UNGA High Level week. While there is no comprehensive mapping of these activities, this public  link is an effort to highlight some of the relevant youth-led and potentially youth-interested events.

  • Any youth entity that may also be a  member of the UN MGCY or the formal constituencies in its coordination team and is participating in The Forum is doing so in their organisational and/or individual capacity, and does not represent UN MGCY or any formal constituencies in its coordination team.

  • As this letter in itself is a response to the petition signed by over 7,000 individuals and organisations, we are of the view that in the interest of transparency the UN and OSGEY and all others addressed should also issue a public response to the petition and the questions raised.

  • The UN MGCY calls upon the OSGEY to fulfill and act in accordance with its mandate to work towards safeguarding the rights of young people and either end or reassess the terms of the MoU with the MISK Foundation.

  • Finally, taking into consideration the points raised above, the UN MGCY requests the OSGEY to withdraw from the Forum and remove the association with and logo of the UN Youth Strategy, since it’s presence doesn’t represent the support and active engagement of all of its members. 

We call on  the UN System, Member States, civil society and fellow young people to engage honestly and ambitiously in  accelerating action towards the deliverables outlined in various UN frameworks. We have a small timeframe to ensure the well-being of people and planet, so we must work together to realize the future we want.

Attentively,

UN Major Group for Children Youth and the formal constituencies(1) represented in it its coordination team with consultation of the UN MGCY Assembly


  1. Global Indigenous Youth Caucus,Sendai Stakeholders Children and Youth Group, GCM-GFMD Youth Constituency, Humanitarian Affairs Youth Caucus, H3 Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group, YOUNGO - Children and Youth Constituency to Climate Change, UNEP MGCY – formal youth constituency to UN Environment, Global Youth for Sustainable Energy, Oceans Major Group for Children and Youth, United Nations Forest Forum Major Group for Children and Youth,  Global Youth Biodiversity Network - Youth Constituency on Biodiversity, Global Youth Caucus on Desertification and Land- Youth constituency on Desertification, SCP (Sustainable Consumption and Production) Major Group for Children and Youth, Small Island Developing States Major Group for Children and Youth, Youth Constituency of CSM for CFS (Committee on World Food Security), Global Youth Health Caucus, Youth Constituency to SDG 4 and the SDG Education 2030 Steering Committee, CSW Youth Constituency, Youth Constituency to UN Water, World Water Forum and Water Weeks, Global Youth Caucus for Decent Work and Sustainable Economy, Youth Chair of the Global Coalition for YPS , Global Youth Caucus for SDG 16, CSO FfD Youth Constituency (including CPDE- Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness Youth Constituency), Youth SPI (Science Policy Interface) Platform, ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), AP- RCEM (Asia Pacific - Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism) Youth Constituency,  ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)- LAC-RCEM Youth Constituency, ECA (Economic Commission for Africa)- Africa- RCEM Youth Constituency, ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for West Asia)- Western Asia RCEM Youth Constituency, ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) - Europe and Others RCEM Youth Constituency