UNAOC Forum in Doha, Qatar

I met the UNAOC High representative and the former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, in September when I gave a speech on inter-religious dialogue during his visit to Finland. That was my first touch with the organization, which is the actual global actor, dealing with the topic of my speech. The pressure was high to deliver something meaningful for the head of such an organization. Luckily he told me afterwards that he was impressed by my words – possibly out of diplomatic courtesy. Now few months later I am participating the annual high-level meeting of Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar.

The four-day conference is held in Doha this year after being organized previously in Madrid, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. Roughly 2500 participants representing the world governments and civil society will discuss the main topic of Intercultural Dialogue to Boost Development. It intertwines around themes of education, tourism, creative industries, migration, sports, UN MDG’s, sustainable development, humanitarian aid, religious minorities, media, inter-religious dialogue, the Arab spring and of course the youth.

Opening speeches are made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Atalay, Vice President of Spain Manuel Chavez, President of Austria Heinz Fischer, Vice President of Brazil Michel Temer, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Jorge Sampaio, President of Germany Christian Wulff and President of the United Nations General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

Some of the other speakers include the presidents of Mongolia, Slovenia, Mali, Albania, Romania, Sierra Leone, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Director General of UNESCO, Executive Director of BMW Stiftung and Secretary General of the League of Arab States.

I’m looking forward to the discussions and meeting new people. I represent both Finnish Youth Co-operation Organization Allianssi and the European Youth Forum with delegations of about 20 people.

Greetings from the heat!

P.S. More info on the forum at http://www.qatar4unaoc.org/


The day that the world will remember

In yesterday’s meeting UNESCO decided clearly to admit Palestine as its full member. 173 countries taking part in the voting, 107 were in favour, 14 voted against and 52 abstained. Two-thirds majority was easily obtained. The atmosphere during the roll call voting was something I have never experienced in my life before. Every single person was following the vote with the understanding of the implications to the world politics. For a while UNESCO certainly was at the very stage of world’s attention.

U.S., Israel and Canada opposed fiercely and explained later that this was not the right time to push forward the candidacy, as the UN membership talks were still ongoing in New York. EU could not come up with a common stance as some abstained, some voted against and some in favour. Finland, Austria, France and Norway were among the EU supporters as Germany opposed.

              The Palestinian Foreign Minister addresses the General Conference.

U.S. and Israel might well cut their funding to UNESCO. U.S. pays a share of 22 % of UNESCO’s budget and this decision will naturally have severe implications to the organization’s work if carried through. For the American administration this was a question of Obama’s re-election but what consequences it will have to the peace process in Middle East will be seen in the future. As UK stated that the Palestinians have with this vote sent a clear message to the international community that the peace process must be speeded up.

I and my collegue Nasma addressed the General Conference on the final report of the Youth Forum. I will post this speech as it will be uploaded in Youtube and translated in English (as Nasma bravely used French, English and Arabic).

You can find the final report in English here:


P.S. This blog just passed 1500 views. Not bad for existing only for two weeks.

UNESCO’s first impression

The 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference has been opened today. All the 193 member states appear to be present and the hallways of UNESCO are packed with ambassadors and ministers. The beauty of the national dresses is stunning as not all countries are accustomed in wearing the western suits. The chairman of the General Conference (GC) proved UNESCO to be a true cultural organization by delivering a large part of his speech by singing. Other planned musical performances followed. Director-General Irina Bokova also gave a great speech and talked lengthily about the Youth Forum at the opening ceremony.

The question of the Palestinian membership seems to be in the minds of the delegates in a way that takes focus away on the other issues in the agenda. We also discussed the affair in the Nordic cooperation meeting in the morning and it still remains unclear when and if the issue comes on the floor. As this is a highly political issue the outcome has sever implications on the future trajectory of UNESCO’s activities. I will remain seized on this matter as the UN jargon says.

I will meet with the UNESCO staff tomorrow to receive more information about the details on addressing the different committees on the results of the Youth Forum. The main speech to the GC will take place on Monday the 31st of October. This will be e very exciting opportunity to speak to hundreds of statesmen and ambassadors directly.

Big part of the conference is also to meet new interesting people and engage in fascinating conversations. It has been extremely inspiring to hear a story of a young woman who lived through the Tunisian revolution, to meet with representatives of NGO’s to hear more on their global projects and to see young and older people who have decided to act upon what they feel is right. It is absolutely amazing what a human being can do when setting her mind into it.

Greetings from Paris!

Check out the video from today to get an idea of the conference:


An exciting conclusion and a meaningful new responsibility

The 7th UNESCO Youth Forum is now over. It consisted of numerous inspirational speeches, stunning examples of how to drive change in the world and how young people get together and come up with a resolution that we agreed on. If you allow me to be frank, the method was not the most democratic and transparent that I have seen in my life but I believe that UNESCO can learn from this process and how the youth themselves must have a bigger role in their own decision-making process.

The final report included demands to expand education and portrayed it as one of the basic human rights. The youth must have a larger role in student democracy and an international declaration on youth rights is needed. The questions of sustainable development must be better addressed and youth participation promoted especially through youth led projects. UNESCO should therefore set the youth as one of the priorities of the organisation. I will provide a link to the complete text of the final report once it is available online.

Personally for me the most stunning moment was when I was elected as the presenter of the final report on behalf of the entire Youth Forum. I will, together with my Swiss colleague Nasma Dasser, present the results of the Youth Forum to the UNESCO General Conference. It will be an exciting moment next week to walk in front of the ministers, kings and ambassadors of the 193 member states of UNESCO. As the UNESCO Youth Forum is the highest-level formal youth decision-making structure in the world and its recent reform has given it more power than ever before, presenting our results brings a great responsibility. There were 210 delegates from 123 countries present at the conference. This fact makes our resolution the most legitimate vision of the world’s youth today.

I will want to keep working to make the process more democratic, transparent, youth-led and clearly defined, as my proposal was adopted to the final report. There is however a lot of work to do so that the legitimacy of the process can become more evident in the future. This was also what I pointed out to the UNESCO Secretary-General, all of the youth delegates and a full room of spectators during my speech at the closing ceremony of the Youth Forum.

It will be extremely exciting next week to see how the UNESCO General Conference will function, if the youth resolutions will be adopted, how the Finnish delegation to UNESCO will seem from inside… not to mention whether the Palestinian membership bid is adopted or not.

I’ll be happy to keep you informed my dear friends as my work has only just begun!

Nuorten valtavirtaistaminen osaksi Unescon agendaa

Sisältökeskustelut alkoivat vihdoin tänään kaksi päivää kestäneiden alustusten jälkeen. Itse osallistuin työryhmään, joka keskusteli konfliktinratkaisumekanismeista ja väkivallan kierteen katkaisemisesta. Kuulimme alustukset nuorilta, jotka olivat joutuneet kokemaan sotaa ja väkivaltaa elämässään. Tarinat Brasilian favelasta, Irakista ja Kolumbiasta antoivat hyvän pohjan keskustelulle.

Pidin puheen nuorten valtavirtaistamisesta osaksi poliittista päätöksentekoa, joka löytyy kirjoitukseni lopusta. Puheeni oli ilmeisen pidetty, sillä se sai päivän raikuvimmat aplodit ja puheenjohtaja mainitsi erityisesti ”Suomen ehdotuksen” loppupuheenvuorossaan. Ohjelman loputtua Unescon pääjohtajan neuvonantaja tuli kiittämään minua henkilökohtaisesti ja minua pyydettiin kirjoittamaan työryhmämme suositukset ja tiivistelmä yhdessä El Salvadorin edustajan kanssa.

Aamulla annoin haastattelun YLE:n suorassa lähetyksessä, jossa kerroin Pariisin kokouksen tapahtumista ja tavoitteista, joita pyrin erityisesti edistämään. Euroopan ja Pohjois-Amerikan äänestysalue toimii tehokkaasti ja olemme antaneet omat ehdotuksemme konkreettisiksi ehdotuksiksi, joista muodostetaan resoluution UNESCOn yleiskokoukselle ja jäsenmaat tulevat äänestämään jokaisesta ehdotuksesta erikseen. Tämä on muutos aikaisempiin vuosiin ja nostaa nuorten asemaa merkittävästi.

Käytäväkeskusteluissa Suomea ylistäviä kommentteja olen kuullut jo melkoisen määrän. Suomen lahjoittama 25 000 euroa on huomioitu ja kaikki tuntuvat pitävän Suomen yhteiskuntajärjestelmää esimerkkinä. Jopa Hollannin edustaja totesi, että Suomi on heitä 20 vuotta edellä nuorisoasioissa ja siksi ehdottamamme tavoitteemme ei ole realistinen. Puhuja Irakista taas oli asunut Suomessa ja aloitti keskustelumme kysymällä ”mitä kuuluu?” suomeksi.

Työ jatkuu loppuraportin parissa ja lobatessa suomalaisia kantoja.

À très bientôt!

Yhdessä kolumbialaisen muusikon ja rauhanaktivistin César Lópezin kanssa. Kuvassa myös escopetarra, mailman yleisimmästä aseesta AK-47:stä muunnettu kitara.


Speech at the Culture of peace, conflict resolution and violence prevention session:

Distinguished Mr. Chairman, dear fellow Youth Delegates,

Please let me share with you a concrete mechanism that can help involve the young people to promote a culture of speech. This is the mainstreaming of the youth in the decision making process on a local level.

First of all, let me tell you that I am a proud product of this system. I have now been elected in three public elections and I believe that this mechanism contributed greatly to the fact.

In Finland all the schools are required to have student councils. The students gather on weekly basis to discuss how to make the school a better place to study. They select a chairman and a board who work on behalf of the students.

Each city has a Youth Forum that is elected among the candidates sent from the schools. The city then provides the Youth Forum an annual budget (In Tampere that was 10 000 euros) and possibly an employee. The Youth Forum elects representatives for the different committees of the city to give the youth perspective on issues concerning the youth. The whole process is secured by a national law.

This mechanism provides the young people an opportunity to discuss and set common goals. The youth can decide without any outside consultation how to use the budget provided so that it would benefit as many as possible. This gives an opportunity to practise democracy in action and organize peer-to-peer activities.

I strongly believe that by advancing the presented model in each country the youth can have their voices better heard, feel themselves as part of the community and therefore create a culture of peace.

Thank you.

Alkutunnelmia Pariisista

Unescon seitsemäs nuorisofoorumi on nyt potkaistu käyntiin. Nuorisofoorumi perustettiin vuonna 1999 Suomen ja Australian aloitteesta ja ulkoasiainministeriömme lahjoitti ennen foorumia suurimman Unescon historiassa sille koskaan suunnatun summan 25 000 euroa. Lähtökohdat kokoukseen Suomen edustajana eivät siis voisi olla paremmat. Nuorisodelegaatteja on kaksi (nainen ja mies) Unescon jokaisesta 193 jäsenmaasta. Lisäksi paikalla on tarkkailijoita, nuorisojournalisteja ja puhujia.

Unescon pääjohtaja Irina Bokova avasi tapahtuman Unescon päämajassa aamulla ja Amerikkalainen näyttelijä Forest Whitaker (mm. Last King of Scotland) piti erinomaisen puheen muutoksen mahdollisuudesta. Kirjailija Paulo Coelho lähetti kokoukselle videoviestin. Muut esitykset ovat käsitelleet sosiaalisen median roolia, johtajuutta ja rauhanvälitystä.

Päivät alkavat kahdeksalta ja päättyvät myöhään illalla. Jokaisesta viidestä Unescon vaalialueesta (Afrikka, Arabimaailma, Aasia ja Oseania, Eurooppa ja Pohjois-Amerikka ja Latinalainen Amerikka ja Karibia) valittiin yksi edustaja työryhmään, joka viimeistelee loppuraportin. Pohjoismaat ovat löytäneet heti yhteisen sävelen ja työskentelemme yhdessä, jotta saamme tavoitteitamme läpi loppuraporttiin. Kuulen mielelläni ajatuksiasi sinun osaamisalueeltasi, mitä Suomi voi konkreettisesti tuoda maailman korkeimman institutionaalisen nuorisokokouksen päätöksiin.

Terveisiä Pariisista!

Työ Pariisissa alkaa

Pariisin rupeama on alkamaisillaan. Neljän päivän kestoinen UNESCO Youth Forum alkaa maanantaina. Keskustelemme aiheesta ”How Youth Drive Change?” Alateemoja ovat nuorten syrjäytyminen, nuorisotyöttömyys ja poliittinen osallistuminen. Millaisia ratkaisuja me nuorisonlegaatit keksimme näihin teemoihin selviää kokouksen loppuasiakirjasta. Julkaisen sen täällä kun saamme työmme valmiiksi. Delegaatteja on kaksi joka maasta ja mielenkiintoisia keskusteluja on varmasti luvassa.

Itse koen tärkeimmiksi teemoiksi koulutuksen, poliittisen osallistumisen ja sukupuolten välisen tasa-arvon edistämisen. Näiden puolesta on hyvä suomalaisena puhua maailmalla. Ilman nuorten mahdollisuutta vaikuttaa ympäröivään yhteiskuntaan he eivät voi kokea sitä omakseen. Suomen vahvin vientituote on mielestäni juuri sukupuolten välinen tasa-arvo ja silla saralla meillä on paljon annettavaa maailmalle. Koulutuksella taas voidaan ehkäistä syrjäytymistä maailman 81 miljoonan työttömän nuoren keskuudessa

Yleiskokouksessa vien eteenpäin nuorten kantoja ja edustan Suomea osana maamme virallista delegaatiota, jota johtaa kulttuuriministeri Paavo Arhinmäki. Palestiinan jäsenyyshakemus tulee puhuttamaan yleiskokousta ja keskustelusta tulee äärettömän mielenkiintoinen seurata. Jäsenyyden hyväksyminen tarvitsee taakseen 2/3 tuen äänestyksessä.

Pyrin kertomaan blogissani kokouksen kulusta, käydyistä keskusteluista ja pidetyistä puheista.

Kommentoi ja kerro näkemyksesi!