The goal of both Scouting and the United Nations has always been to create a better world. One way or the other both organisations work for (or contribute to) global peace, development, human rights, and education of young people. Since the early days of the United Nations, Scouts have been involved in various joint programmes, initiatives and projects with different UN bodies.
Today, WOSM is one of the over 130 International Non-Governmental Organisations with General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council, having gained the status as early as in 1947. Scouting is regularly invited to express its views on several topics being discussed in the United Nations, and participates in numerous consultations related to the situation of young people in the world.
Most recently, World Scouting has been involved in gathering inputs for the Post 2015 development goals after the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015). Scouting’s contribution to the ‘My World’ global survey and other ‘World We Want’ consultation processes for Post 2015 was recognised by the UN at a special event organised at the UN General Assembly in September 2013.
Acting Locally with the UN
Locally, Scouting is heavily involved with the UN in tackling several issues of global concern, such as:
The United Nations and WOSM have signed several Memorandums of Understanding. All of these agreements are helping Scouting to improve programmes and reach out to communities more effectively.
For more information, see “Scouting and the United Nations” (available in English and French).
Thinking and advocating Globally
The impact of the Scout Movement is not restricted to actions at the local level. World Scouting plays an important role in advocating for improving global policies, particularly those that are affecting young people. The fact that the United Nations has adopted its own Youth Policy is recognition of the special attention young people enjoy in countries all over the world. The work on advocacy has been successful in many areas, for example:
The cooperation between the UN and Scouting benefits young people all over the world. Through the social force of Scouting and its constructive contribution to the community, World Scouting works to achieve its goals in partnership with the United Nations.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the United Nations' specialised agency for labour issues. ILO seeks to promote human and labour rights by establishing international standards of basic labour rights: freedom of association, the right to organise, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work related issues.
The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) works towards the progressive elimination of child labour by strengthening national capacities to address child labour problems, and by creating a worldwide movement to combat it. Founded by ILO in 1992, IPEC's work is considered especially important in contributing to ILO's Decent Work Agenda.
The impetus of World Scouting's involvement with ILO-IPEC is its interest in children & youth rights and protection. This interest was formally recognised with a Memorandum of Understanding built around rights education contributing to the elimination of Child Labour in 2004. The MoU has been renewed twice, and the latest one (for the period 2012-2017) can be downloaded here.
Since 1992, World Scouting and ILO-IPEC have been supporting the expansion of the highly successful Extension Scouting Programme in Kenya to other countries around the world. The Extension Scouting Programme targets marginalised young people, particularly those living and working in the streets, and helps them reintegrate into the society by teaching them life and vocational skills.
The UN Millennium Campaign (UNMC) informs, inspires and encourages people’s involvement and action for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). An initiative of the United Nations, the Campaign supports citizens’ efforts to hold their government accountable for the Millennium promise.
The objective of the MDGs is particularly relevant to the Scouts, not only because of Scouting’s interest in child development but also because many members currently live in countries hoping to achieve the MDGs. Scouting’s interest in the UNMC was officially recognised with a Memorandum of Understanding in 2005. Click here to download the MoU.
To specifically support the UNMC, World Scouting launched the “Youth of the World Campaign”, which aims to inform young people of issues of development and encourages them to act in response to the needs of their community. As a part of the campaign, NSOs have been encouraged to develop projects for the senior sections of their organisations in the following areas: peace, security and disarmament, development and the eradication of poverty, and the protection of our common environment.
As the MDGs draw to a close in 2015, the UN has launched several conversations to gather inputs for the new development goals Post 2015 coordinated by the UNMC. World Scouting has played a significant role in the conversations particularly through the My World global survey, which gathered over a million votes from people around the world. Scouting partnered with the UNMC to help gather the voices of its Scouts and their communities. World Scouting’s efforts were recognised by the UN in a special event for Post 2015 at the 67th United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2013.
To have your say on the Post 2015 development agenda, take 3 minutes to vote on your preferred priorities.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.
In 1990, WOSM and UNEP collaborated on and published “Scouting: Action for the Environment”, a document which helps National Scout Organizations (NSOs) integrate environmental education into the overall Scout programme. World Scouting's ventures with UNEP extend beyond specific environmental education projects, with Scouts having attended UNEP’s Governing Council Meeting and International Children and Youth Conferences. UNEP also supported environmental awareness workshops at the centennial World Scout Jamboree’s Global Development Village in 2007 (UK). In 2012, Nhattan Nguyen, an 18-year-old Scout from Canada was elected to UNEP’s Major Groups Facilitating Committee as the joint coordinator for Children and Youth.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) promotes peace by encouraging international cooperation among its member states in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.
In 2012 WOSM was elevated to Associate Status, the highest bilateral relationship, in partnership with UNESCO following a decision by its Executive Board. Prior to this, World Scouting has enjoyed Consultative Status with UNESCO since 1970. This official relationship facilitates the development of joint projects all over the world. In particular, World Scouting-UNESCO projects have focused on the themes of peace, education and diversity. Some examples of this cooperation in action can be found in the ongoing “Camping for Peace” programme and the International Scout Gatherings for Culture Exchange (Egypt, 1998-2002).
As consequence of its official status, World Scouting has also participated in a number of UNESCO activities. Scouts from several countries have attended as delegates at the General Conference and Youth Forums of UNESCO and WOSM regularly sends representatives to UNESCO's International Conferences on Education. UNESCO has also taken part in World Scouting’s activities, providing workshops at the Global Development Village of World Scout Jamborees. UNESCO also contributed financially the 2007 World Scientific Congress organised by WOSM. Through the new Associate Status granted in March 2012, WOSM and UNESCO are expected to have stronger collaboration and mutual support to help progress on areas of common interest.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides developmental assistance to children and their families by focusing on the following areas: Child Survival and Development, Basic Education and Gender Equality, HIV/AIDS, Child Protection and Policy Advocacy and Partnerships.
Since the late 1980's, World Scouting and UNICEF have collaborated on a multitude of projects specialising in child development all over the globe. The mutual interest in the subject was formalised with a special agreement of cooperation on Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) in 1994 and a Memorandum of Understanding in 2005 covering joint initiatives surrounding the centenary of Scouting and beyond. Click here to download the MoU.
The World Scouting-UNICEF partnership has a long history of joint projects, several of them covering the health and welfare of children and youth. Often, the Scouts lead the social mobilisation of these joint initiatives, acting as advocates to parents and the community at large, encouraging them to participate in a specific health and awareness interventions. UNICEF, on the other hand, provides the technical and logistical support. Some examples of how the two organisations work together can be found in the long running child immunization campaign in Africa and the clean water and sanitation project in Sudan and Africa from 1990-2002. Scouting has partnered with UNICEF in several prominent projects and initiatives at regional, national and local levels drawing references from the global MoU.
UNICEF’s chief of Child Protection, Dr. Susan Bissell, delivered the keynote address at the International Conference on Keeping Children Safe From Harm organised jointly by World and Swedish Scouting at the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in Sweden (2011). During her address, Dr. Bissell appreciated World Scouting’s role in pioneering changes in social behaviour globally to ensure the full protection of children and youth. She was particularly impressed with the society wide engagement process followed by Scouting, which is based on the understanding that the protection of children should extend to all spheres of the life and activities of the child. In recent years, Scouting has been approached by several youth and children based organisations to extend Scouting’s child and youth protection programmes under ‘Keeping Scouts Safe From Harm’ beyond Scouting.