Today’s Leaders, Tomorrow’s Decision Makers

Karima Rhanem (Morocco) Opening Speech full transcript

Balkan MUN 2014, Dures Albania


Honorable Secretary General, Deputy SG, Under Secretaries & Staffers of the Balkan MUN

Dear Chairs and Delegates

It is my pleasure to be here with you today at the opening of the largest MUN in the Balkan and my honor to have the opportunity to address a generation of young leaders who will be their countries future decision makers.

Apart from the unpleasant experience of losing my luggage, I want to start my speech by a funny anecdote. On my way to Albania, someone at the airport asked me where are you going? I said Albania (in my dialect it is pronounced ALBAANIA. The person has immediately mistaken Albania with ALMAANIA which means Germany. I said again Albania, and then started asking me lots of question about a country he never heard of. This has only reminded of a funny anecdote that happened to me in one of my trips to the United States.

Whenever I am asked about my origin, people mistake Morocco for Monaco. One of the Americans asked me where that Morocco is. I said in North Africa, and he replied “Hein but why you are not black! I said well I wish I could be black but I turned out to be a café laté.

It’s so funny how many people around the world are so unaware about your country geography, culture, history, politics and economy. It’s also unlikely that several people have lots of misconceptions and stereotypes about your country, and this contributes in a way or another to many conflicts. It is only through getting to know people and cultures through such international or regional opportunities as Model United Nations and similar public diplomacy meetings that we get a better idea about others’ cultures.
To be frank with you, I myself didn’t know much about Albania until I met the amazing SG of the BMUN Klevis Rreshka at the Young Diplomats forum in Ankara. Klevis continues to inspire me with every single activity he is doing. He proved to be a real Ambassador of Albania and I am sure his country is so proud of him.

Today, people like Klevis and you coming from different countries can make a difference in international Affairs. And as you know, Ambassadorship is not solely the duty of an official Ambassador; each one of you could be a good will Ambassador of his/her own country and be a key player and influencer through people to people diplomacy

Throughout these past years, Model United Nations meetings have become an increasingly effective mean to educate young people about global issues and the UN agenda.

During the coming three days, you will have the chance to learn and prepare policy papers, debate hot issues that interest the international community and draft and vote on resolutions as real leaders.

By working on topics dealing with the real UN and having first-hand experience on the challenges of working with colleagues representing different parts of the world, you will develop a better understanding of the complexities of international affairs, and an appreciation of the dynamics of group interaction and cooperation, and an awareness of the purpose and the capability of the UN to solve global issues.

While enjoying this wonderful experience, I want each one of you to step back and ask himself or herself a key question, what do I want to become in the next 5 years, what goals I want to achieve and where I do really see myself in the ladder of participation. Do I really want to be manipulated by decision makers or do I want to be a real actor influencing not only my country decision making but also international policies.
I am sure each one of you wants to be a leader not a looser,

I am sure you want to be that dynamo or domino effect that inspires others;

I am sure you want to be regarded as part of the solution and not seen as a problem;

I am sure you want to be regarded as a development partner and not a target or recipient of Aid,

I am sure you want capacity building; sustainable development and ownership rather than being dependent on foreign aid,

I am sure you want to be a key player and negotiator rather than being a just protestor without presenting any concrete alternatives and proposals;

I am confident you could speak for those who don’t have a voice and that your input could make a difference.

I am also confident that you want to be a change maker rather than a spectator of change.

You are better positioned to know, young people are rarely consulted in meaningful ways during the creation of strategies. Only few of the action plans link youth-focused strategies to specific targets and budgets or regard the youth as a main cross-cutting issue.

Today, there are neither more excuses nor ways any policy or strategy could be developed without consulting citizens including young people and civil society. In my country Morocco, the only country in the Middle East and North Africa that was able to manage the negative influence of the Arab Spring through launching landmark constitutional reforms, youth issues are a top priority.

The determination of young people who were demanding political and socio-economic change and the wisdom & leadership of HM King Mohammed VI King of Morocco who spared no efforts in initiating big constitutional reforms, have bared its fruits by adopting a more liberal constitution protecting human rights, civil liberties and cultural diversity and pluralism while offering new roles to civil society and youth to be more involved in decision making processes.

The new Moroccan policy put the citizen at the heart of any strategy or policy, allowing him/her to take part in developing and evaluating public policies, presenting petitions and proposing legislative motions. The constitution also required from each public institution to conduct a public consultation with citizens and concerned stakeholders prior to developing any policy. These have resulted in developing and adapting a new integrated youth strategy and launching a national dialogue between the state, youth and civil society with the aim of proposing changes in the current legislation and improving the legal enabling environment of youth and CSOs.

Several states now has made youth a priority and have sought ways to develop strategies to meet your needs and create opportunities related to employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights and education.

The issues that I just mentioned earlier already figure in our agenda in the coming days, along with a critical topic that concerns the international community which is terrorism and cyber crime that we will be discussing at the DISEC committee I am honored to chair.

Terrorists and extremists are today exploiting social media networks to radicalize young people. In our deliberations, I want you to be more creative in finding concrete recommendations. It is a compelling reality that terrorism will not be defeated alone by law enforcement measures, or intelligence operations or military and security strategies.” I want you to think together how to replace the terrorist arguments with messages of peace, development and human welfare

Again, I encourage you to be creative and strive for new and innovative ideas as we deliberate on our agenda items. And I am looking forward to working with you and learning from you as well.

Thank you and good luck

Categories: Diplomacy

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