“For my next trick, I need a volunteer”: youth at the United Nations

“For my next trick, I need a volunteer”: youth at the United Nations

Recent youth protests, especially on climate change issues, are reminding us that youth is a key actor of international politics. Yet, very few studies of international relations analyze youth as actors in their own rights. By explaining how youth has been and is currently represented at the United Nations, this contribution aims at presenting these different constructions of youth in international politics.


More precisely, it explains how youth has been constructed, both by the literature in international relations, and by international institutions, around several roles, that all, to some extent, instrumentalize youth by imposing expectations and needs on young people. In particular, youth has been constructed as: (i) victims and therefore recipients of policies, policies needed for their protection; (ii) potentials, and therefore investments for the future.


While studying where these constructions of youth come from, the contribution goes beyond and highlight how youth themselves perceive their role on the international scene.


The research relies on systematic documentary search on youth and the United Nations, and on about 20 interviews with youth participants in the negotiations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Speaker : Amandine Orsini – University of Strathclyde, Glasgow – Royaume Uni

Moderator: Simon PERSICO



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