As part of the United Nations’ commitment to engage the youth on world issues and solutions, the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák hosted an interactive and inspirational Youth Dialogue yesterday. He invited youth from all corners of the world to tackle the 3 main themes of the dialogue that are profoundly impacting their lives : 1) Education, 2) Unemployment, and 3) Radicalisation and Violent Extremism. He listened to all the ideas, needs and concerns of young people in bridging the education and employment gap in the 21st century, as well as preventing radicalization. He also provided a space for youth organizations to connect and develop synergies that would empower young people and solve these pressing issues together. They are the ‘SDG Generation’ and they must be the ‘superheroes’ of this world to witness the actualization of sustainable development.
Rita Houkayem (Canada) and Alec Naaman (United States), the United Nations DPI/NGO Youth Representatives for the World Lebanese Cultural Union were actively present at the Youth Dialogue. Rita presented a brief statement on the WLCU’s mission and work and how it does an incredible job empowering the Lebanese diaspora. She summarized her statement saying:
“In the words of our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today and I thank you Mr. President of UNGA for giving us the floor to engage in discussing 3 pressing themes that are currently profoundly impacting us and to find sustainable solutions through an international ‘Youth Dialogue’.
I found this conference to be a great opportunity to tackle one of these themes by briefly presenting our NGO, the World Lebanese Cultural Union. Although our ultimate purpose is to promote our heritage and connect our diaspora community together, the sense of belonging we experience through this cultural organization should be captured as a preventative model strategy to understand and solve radicalisation and violent extremism. There is strength in a solid community, which maintains and enhances both individual and collective wellbeing and we must spread more love, respect and compassion across communities instead of fear and hate so we can live in peace once and for all.”
In addition to the President’s interest to the WLCU’s unique and valuable mission, there was a lot of interest stirred amongst the young people. Many had approached Rita and Alec inquiring about WLCU. A social entrepreneur from Denmark had proposed to organize a trip to Lebanon with his civil society comprising of visible minorities to showcase how Lebanon is a unique model of peaceful coexistence amongst the population despite its pluralistic society, divisive politics and geopolitical instability. A few others wanted to join the WLCU and asked if they could support the opening of chapters in their local cities.
Our Youth Representatives’ participation was an overall success and we will continue to support all of our youth’s work. They are indeed our present and future leaders and we stand behind them on their mission to make this world a better place for all!