A sit-down with Giulia Tariello, the Italian Youth Delegate to the United Nations
By Frederica Iannò
For this article, I got to interview Giulia Tariello, who graciously set some time aside to answer my questions. For the 2022 – 2023 term, Giulia was the Italian Youth Delegate with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations. Prior to meeting her I had no knowledge whatsoever of the program’s existence. This lack of awareness about opportunities for youth to get involved in politics, she shared, is widespread amongst the public, both in Italy and abroad.
It has been such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about both Giulia, who keeps smashing the glass ceiling and is becoming a true model for young women, and the Youth Delegate program.
I first had a chance to meet Giulia last May, during a panel she did to recount her experience as a Youth Delegate (YD henceforth). Thanks to an apt and prompt use of her social media platforms, she was able to share a glimpse into the field of diplomacy and international cooperation as seen through the eyes of a Youth Delegate.
The following is an excerpt of a conversation I had a couple of days ago with Giulia, whom I thank dearly for her time.
Hi, Giulia. Thank you so much for joining me today. Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Yes, of course. Thank you for having me! My name is Giulia Tariello, I’m 25 years old and I’m originally from Rome, although now I live and study in Milan. I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus on Diplomatic studies and have already obtained a Bachelor’s in Political Science and International relations back in Rome.
What would you say moved you to get into activism and politics?
Ever since I moved to Milan, I’ve tried to put myself out there and stay on the lookout for any opportunity that could help me gain some experience in the field, which is why, in 2021, I joined the board of MSOI Milano, that is the Youth Movement for International Organizations.
Can you briefly explain, for anyone who might not be familiar with the program, what the program, in general, and your duties as Youth Delegate (YD) entailed?
Yes. I submitted my application in June 2022 and my mandate officially began in September. My main duty was representing Italy’s youth, both at the United Nations, with the Permanent Mission of Italy, and during other activities here in Italy, which were of crucial importance, since they allowed me to hear my peers out and collect the interests, voices and needs I would then go on to represent and advocate for.
Are there any specific tasks you worked on that you can share with us?
Our plan of actions was split in two: on the one side, we toured the nation to meet with our peers and other youth organizations. On the other, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also had us help out with researching and drafting several memos for Italy’s contribution to the talks for the reform of the UN Security Council.
My co-delegate and I sat in on the meetings of the Uniting for Consensus group and helped out with collecting data and keeping track of the progress made during each session.
Was there anything specific you worked towards during your mandate?
We selected a goal-the fourth, which is “quality education for all”-among the 17 in the 2030 Agenda and kept that as a common thread for most of the events we organized and took part in. We also tried to spread the word about the YD Program and what it entails.
On that note, last time we spoke you mentioned that the YD program isn’t all that well known. How many countries would you say are represented through the youth delegate program? How many YD’s have you worked with?
Yes, it is definitely not renowned. It is almost never useful, when facing global challenges, to sit at a roundtable with people whose backgrounds are too similar to one’s own. That is why we tried, with the other YDs we got to meet, to also promote the program in order to foster inclusivity and cooperation.
Also, the program is not structured the same across countries: for instance, Italy has two delegates, while Denmark has eight, each of which handles a specific area.
The delegates we met were mostly from Europe, with few from Asia and Latin America. Some of them were only able to join us online. Of course, the program entails substantial expenses for governments, so that also has to be factored in and is part of the reason why some countries don’t have a YD program at all.
What experiences would you say prepared you to take on the role of YD?
Definitely my time on the board of MSOI Milano, both because of the type of activities we planned and because, with other 9 board members, I got to fine tune the skills you need to work and succeed in a team. I have also done an internship with a local NGO, which was my first taste, so to speak, of an office job which had ties with international organizations and affairs.
Other than that, I think what made the difference was my determination and the fact that I truly believed in the mission of the program and in involving the younger generations .
What made you get into politics and activism?
I have always thought I would go on to join the Italian Ministry of Foreign affairs or become an ambassador to represent our country. The past year opened up some other doors I had never thought to open: I think I would still like to work for an international organization or an NGO, but to represent a community, as opposed to a specific country.
As a State representative, you’re oftentimes a representative of the will of a nation to change, but retain little control over how and on what terms that change actually comes about.
At this time, nothing is set in stone, though, so we will see what comes along.
So what would you suggest to young individuals seeking to join the field of international relations?
Finding your path and focusing on it. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the vastness of this field and give up. I would also not recommend submitting applications randomly just for the sake of a chance at getting in. I say, find your calling and stick to it. The opportunities will present themselves. Being true to one’s self is never a bad idea-and bring your A-game for motivational letters!
Were there any challenges that, as a young woman, you had to face during your mandate?
I was actually quite pleasantly surprised to see many women occupying representative seats at the General Assembly, which was encouraging, especially because it would suggest to me that diplomacy is not as male-dominated a field as it used to be. There weren’t external issues for the most part, so what I struggled with the most was my own sense of responsibility: I felt that I had to work twice as hard, when really I should have leaned on my other collaborators a little more. I think most women do feel an insane pressure to prove that they belong and that they were the right choice, which sometimes translates to taking on extra responsibilities and the blame for mistakes that the system itself brings about.
Is there something you have learned along the way that you will treasure in the future?
Probably that you should never be afraid of putting yourself out there. Also, there is likely someone, somewhere in the world, who can relate to your struggles, so leaning on other people-especially to face global challenges-is crucial.
What was your biggest satisfaction?
When one of my speeches that I had to give at the UNGA was not modified in any way by the higher ups of the Italian Permanent Mission. They recognised that, to accurately represent the Italian youth, I had to use my own voice and perspective instead of theirs, so that was really awesome.
This was quite insightful. To close off, any advice to the women who will read this article?
That is a tricky one! There are so many potential answers to your question, but I think I would lead with this: do not write yourself off before you even try.
I almost didn’t send my application to the YD program, but thank goodness I did in the end.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today! I am sure there are amazing things in store for you and cannot wait to see you accomplish them.
Thank you for thinking of me! Best of luck to Women in Politics, thank you for everything you do for young women seeking to join the field. It is important.
Giulia will go on to serve once again as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations for the 2023 – 2024 term, but this time she will work alongside the European Union mission to the UN!
I encourage you to inquire whether the Youth Delegate program is available in your country and try out for it!
While the requirements, structure and selection process vary across countries, I would recommend checking out the website of your Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more detailed information and resources.
An application guide, as well as an overview of the 2022 UNGA Youth Delegate roster and some country-specific information for prospective applicants, is available at the following link: https://social.desa.un.org/issues/youth/un-youth-delegate-programme.
It is so important for younger generations to occupy these seats in order to truly relay our needs to those in charge, especially when a considerable age gap might not allow our leaders to be in tune with the younger generation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I’m Frederica. I am a senior in college majoring in Global Law and Transnational Legal Studies at the University of Turin, Italy, and will serve as the 2023-24 Chief of Academics at MSOI Torino, a local student association and network for international affairs. I’m drawn to foreign relations and policy and would like to pursue a career in this area eventually. Collaborating with WIP is an honour and will surely be a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and, perhaps, even future colleagues!