Oct 17 – First day of UNESCO Youth Forum
The first day of the Forum started bright and early at the UNESCO Headquarters. We were welcomed by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, and Forrest Whitaker, Academy Award Winner and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. They opened the Forum with the idea that human respect and dignity are at the centre of UNESCO’s goals. Irina Bokova also announced the opening of Mr. Whitaker’s Centre for Peace. Below is a summary of the speeches of the morning session.
9am – 1pm: Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation workshop
Led by Forrest Whitaker, this introduced specific communication skills for conflict resolution and reconciliation. Specifically, all of the delegates brainstormed their ideas of conflict and peace, and how to resolve personal situations of conflict. Some of the most interesting remarks were regarding the major misconception about peacebuilding and conflict. One of the panel speakers note « There is this misconception that conflict arises as a result of external circumstances, and there is little that an individual or community can do. However, peace is a choice and it’s up to you regardless of the circumstances around you. » Another speaker mentioned that « Peace is a relationship with oneself, with others, and with nature. »
During the workshop, 4 agreements of peacemakers were noted:
1. Be impeccable with your words
2. Don’t take anything personally
3. Don’t make assumptionss
4. Always do your best
There was a big focus on the idea that our words drive our reality and become material. Thus, as young leaders, it is critical to ensure that we speak only of what we want to become reality.
Overall, an incredible inspiring workshop.