The issues raised during Kofi Annan Dialogues Special Session ranged from the security in Nigeria and El Salvador and the on-going crises in Syria and Lybia to answers on how to close the gap between young citizens and global leaders.
During the Kofi Annan Dialogues four young people from El Salvador, Nigeria, Libya and South Africa were live-streamed on a Google Hangout and raised issues that concerned them most. It was great seeing listening to these young people’s questions not only about their own countries, but also questions about conflicts in other regions and the world as a whole.
As for the question on Syrian situation, Mr. Annan assured that there is still hope and that a political settlement to the conflict shall be found. However, according to Mr. Annan, to achieve this all of us have to realise that the international community as a whole has the responsibility of bringing peace to Syria, as such problems no one country can confront alone.
Another crucial point brought about during the Q&A session was the issue of the human rights of disabled persons. Mr. Annan noted how extremely talented people with disabilities can be and that it is extremely important to not impede them from making the contribution that they can.
The message that stood out most of all during Mr. Annan’s presentation and Q&A session is that the generational change is happening here and now and it is up to us to be the change that we want to see.
Mr. Annan started his speech by remarking the fact that we are now living in a period of unprecedented change. As we grow more and more interdependent, new challenges appear at national, regional and global levels. He highlighted current international problems such as youth unemployment, climate change, food and nutrition security, as well as international security, sustainable development, transnational crime, terrorism and religious extremism. These and many others according to Mr. Annan are “problems without visas, problems without passports”. In order to overcome these problems, it is important to start with cohesive societies around the globe. He followed by naming three core pillars of a cohesive society: peace and stability, development, rule of law and respect for human rights.
The idea that I found particularly remarkable was the following: “When leaders fail to lead, you can make the leaders follow by indicating the direction.” Mr. Annan has also, on numerous occasions emphasised the importance of the involvement of us, young people in shaping today’s world. We have it all: the energy, the creativity and drive. It is our global responsibility. There is never a reason to wait. As global citizens we should engage now, not wait until we are a certain age. Mr. Annan called upon thinking globally and acting locally.
I would like to finish with Mr. Annan’s words: “Change takes time. It is not an event, it is a process.” Remember this when you are back home. Remember that change takes patience. Step by step. Little by little and in our own way. Go ahead and make the world a better place.