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In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that 12 August is declared International Youth Day. The Assembly recommended that public information activities be organized to support the day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action of Youth which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1995. The International Youth Day is a celebration of young people's energy, imagination and initiatives and will also recognize young people's crucial contributions to enhancing peace and development. It is also an opportunity for the international community and the UN system to demonstrate their commitment to young people.

Each year the International Youth Day is assigned a theme, which communicates the scope and objectives of youth initiatives and also provides a unifying banner that can draw inspiration to take action.