n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Controlling youth for democracy : the United States Youth Council and the World Assembly of Youth

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



To counter the left influences in the pre-war American and world youth congresses and the communist domination of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, founded in 1945, leaders of youth organisations in the USA and Britain set up national and international agencies for the development of youth work and the involvement of young people to promote democracy and human rights. Such agencies needed extensive funds, which were eventually liberally provided by the CIA. Generational conflict in the 1960s finally exposed this, but the State Department continued financial support. From the beginning, young American delegates argued for the democratic control of World Assembly of Youth (WAY) by young people, thus directing generational conflict to the international arena, which suited US government agendas. Government withdrew its financial support when WAY no longer served its purposes and the United States Youth Council (USYC) rationalised its withdrawal by accusing WAY of no longer being committed to democracy and human rights. The USYC became more narrowly based and subject to government agendas, which prompted Congress to withdraw funds. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the dominance of New Right agendas removed the likelihood of renewed support.

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