Our choice of the city in which to organise a One Young World Summit has nothing to do with the politics of the country in which our host city is located. It is neither an endorsement nor a disapproval of that country’s system of government.
One Young World is not a political organisation. It is a global movement that aims to inspire action. We want young people to know and to believe that they can make a positive difference in the world. And then to go and make that difference.
Previous One Young World Summits were mostly organised in Western Europe and the United States. We are now taking One Young World to Asia, and elsewhere, because we are a global movement. We want to include more young Asians at One Young World and attract greater attention to Asia as well as issues affecting young people globally.
On the eve of the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community, One Young World turns to Southeast Asia. At the end of 2015, the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community will bring many Southeast Asian countries and their populations even closer together.
There are few countries in Southeast Asia, or across Asia as a whole, that we could say fully reflect the liberal democratic political traditions of Western Europe. But that is not a factor in our choice of host city. We could have staged One Young World in Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar or any other Asian country that would allow our delegates and Counsellors to speak and engage on critical global issues affecting today and the world of tomorrow.
We could expect any of these Southeast Asian countries to have their political system of governance challenged by those who would prefer to see an alternative system of government in the host city’s country. We could also retreat into making a very comfortable choice of host city by just staging our Summit in Western Europe again.
But that rather defeats the purpose of a global movement like One Young World.
We have been guaranteed freedom of speech during the Summit, which is something not all host cities would be able to provide. Moreover, One Young World has turned down bids from cities that have not been able to provide this guarantee.
We do not discriminate in accepting delegates based on their race, creed, or the political system of their country of origin. And it is on that same basis that we keep ourselves open to consider all cities as potential hosts for the annual One Young World Summit.
One Young World will meet again as the world faces both familiar and new global challenges. The Summit aims to inspire young leaders, as well as initiate dialogue, information sharing and ideas in the presence of world experts. Above all, One Young World is a catalyst for action to address critical global issues. And that is what we resolve to continue to do at the One Young World Summit 2015 in Bangkok.