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World's youth 'are never too young to lead' – Kofi Annan

World's youth 'are never too young to lead' – Kofi Annan


A former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says young people must rise up to take leadership positions.

According to him, the notion that young people could not take key leadership positions was untrue in today’s world. Annan, 79, was sharing his views at a youth conference in the Colombian city of Bogota.

“We need hope but also strong leadership. And this is where everyone must play a role. In societies emerging from conflict, it is up to each individual and institution to stress that which unites us over that which sets us apart.

“And let me repeat: you are never too young to lead and never too old to learn. So I call on the young generation to put its remarkable energy, insight and passion in the service of reconciliation and peace. The path is yours to construct and pursue,” he said in his address.

Other issues he raised in his address bordered on impact of climate change, building lasting peace in conflict regions and also the need to integrate global economies. He outlined three solutions as follows:

“First, trust is the essential element for getting beyond conflict. It must be built, step-by-step, into a momentum of confidence that takes any peace process forward.

“Second, if a peace process is to succeed, it must be inclusive and based on a frank dialogue among all the protagonists.

“Third, the voices of the victims must be heard and heard clearly. Justice need not be an impediment to peace – it is an essential partner.”

The One Young World summit took place between October 4 – 7. Annan was joined by other global leaders like Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos and former Public Protector of South Africa, Thuli Madonsela.

The Annan Foundation and an anti-terrorism group ‘Extremely Together’ are partners with the organizers of the annual summit.

One Young World was founded in 2009, it is a UK-based charity that gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change.