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U.S. engagement with the United Nations has just taken a giant step forward.

This fall, the U.S. Department of State’s Mission to the United Nations has taken historic action, reaching out to young people across the U.S. and connecting them to the UN General Assembly. This is the first time the voice of youth will be actively engaged with our official delegation at the UN’s General Assembly in a U.S. Youth Observer position. (Before we go too far, let’s quickly clarify the word “youth” – we are talking about young people age 18-25. The definitions of “Youth” differ around the globe, and at the UN, but for this effort, most high school seniors, college students, and young professionals qualify.)

For years many countries have included youth in their official delegations to the UN General Assembly. In 2009, 45 Youth Delegates from more than 25 countries participated in the 63rd session of the General Assembly. However, the U.S. never before developed such a program. The U.S. Youth Observer position is the first step toward developing a more formal U.S. youth voice at the UN.

UNA-USA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, is now accepting applications for this prestigious U.S. Youth Observer position. With a deadline of September 7 at 5 p.m. (EDT), 18-25 year-old U.S. citizens who are passionate about the UN can apply. We are looking for everyone from Model UNers to young professionals who have a zeal for international dialogue.

Young people around the U.S. are energized and interested in the UN’s work. Through service projects, study abroad, Peace Corps, exchanges, foreign language skills, and international travel, young people are connected personally and virtually to the rest of the world. They see the value the UN brings to its work through peacekeeping, development, education, health and food programs, and diplomacy.

This is just one of several efforts you will see this fall from UNA-USA. We are planning a large scale youth and young professional movement for the United Nations. Whether you are in high school, on a college campus, or in one of your first jobs, be on the lookout for GenUN. This is your chance to engage, educate, and advocate for the UN as part of UNA-USA.

Stay tuned for more on GenUN later this fall…in the meantime, who will be the first U.S. Youth Observer to the UN? You? The world is listening.