We — young people from all over the world — celebrate the fact that, as human beings, we are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore we possess inherent human dignity. We believe that the age of youth is the “sculptress that shapes the whole of life” and as such this is perhaps the most critical period in the development of the human person. Because we are the future of the human family, we strive for the common good and for a positive renewal of society. We seek the continued healthy flourishing of the human family. We hereby adopt the following principles that are of fundamental importance to young people and to the entire human family.
1. Young People are Relational Beings, Formed in the Family – We are children of parents, and members of a family. We are relational persons, not autonomous individuals. We firmly agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
2. Parents are the Primary Educators of Young People – Access to education is critical to our formation and our long-term success. We firmly agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that parents have the prior right to educate their children. Parents have the primary right, duty, and responsibility to educate us and should be assured of the proper assistance to provide for the moral, religious, intellectual, practical, and physical education of youth.
3. Rights of Youth are Based on Their Evolving Capacities – The period of youth comprises a critical period of development, during which time our right to make decisions for ourselves evolves according to our maturity, and, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, must be balanced with the rights and duties of parents.1
4. The Right to Life is Inviolable from Conception to Natural Death – Many in the last two generations have been born into societies that do not protect the right to life before birth, and we consider ourselves survivors by virtue of our being born at all. Only by restoring appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth, can there be true justice and peace in society.2
5. Youth are Participants in Development and Employment – Being the key to the future, we should be at the center of development. Youth is the time for discerning talents that can be used for the rest of one’s life.
6. A Proper Understanding of Sexuality and Healthy Relationships Must be Respected – In learning about and encountering our natural sexuality, we must be instilled with a sense of responsibility and self-respect. The full and proper expression of sexuality can be realized only in the total life-long and selfless commitment rooted in the natural institution of marriage between a man and a woman.
7. Man and Woman are Based in Nature – Young people, like all members of the human family, are created male and female. While men and women are fully equal, each possesses characteristics that are unique to their sex, which are complementary. We affirm international agreements that gender is not a social construct, and refers to the two sexes, male and female. 3
8. Youth Must be Protected Against all Crimes of Exploitation – All human persons, and most especially youth, should be protected from exploitation of all forms. In particular, we should be protected from exploitation and trafficking for the purposes of forced-labor, sex trade, slavery, and from participation in military conflict, i.e. child soldiers.
1 Cf. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 5.
2 Cf. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble and Article 6.
3 Cf. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7 (3): “gender”