. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .
An article from UNESCO
The Second International Conference on Youth Volunteering and Dialogue: Preventing Violent Extremism and Strengthening Social Inclusion, was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris between 24 and 27 September. The conference, organized in partnership with UNESCO Beirut, aims at fostering the vital values of solidarity, empathy, critical thinking, social engagement and meaningful civic participation.
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The Conference focuses on four thematic areas:
• Refugees and Migration: Youth volunteers spearheading inclusion
• The importance of intercultural education
• The role of the media and social media in constructing positive dialogue
• Youth engagement with cultural heritage and the arts.
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More than a hundred youth volunteers from around the world participated in the conference, representing the UNESCO Global Citizenship Youth Network in the Arab States, the Scouts Movement, and the United Nations Volunteers. The participants exchanged meaningful dialogue on each other’s work on social entrepreneurship and civic engagement, and participated in organized workshops related to the thematic areas. In addition, they also participated techniques workshop on the Human Library, Drama Therapy and Sports against Violence, featured by experts in the field. At the final stage of the conference, the youth participants presented their pitches for their future commitments and initiatives that are in line with the purposes of the conference.
The conference also presented an award ceremony for the winners of the UNESCO “if I were” Global Youth Contest. The contest was launched on social media in Arabic, English, French and Spanish and was open from 24 February to 12 March 2017. UNESCO received 837 submissions, from 117 countries around the world. The contest allowed participants to have the opportunity to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes: they could choose to be anyone with a simple camera. Ten contestants from different countries made the final list. The initiative is part of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Programme for a Culture of Peace and Dialogue, funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. UNESCO Headquarters and UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut implemented the initiative in collaboration with the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND).
The initiative is rooted in the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022) for which UNESCO has been designated lead agency by the United Nations General Assembly. It also contributes to UNESCO’s operational strategy on youth 2014-2021, recognizing “youth as equal partners and actors for development and peace”, in line with the social, ethical and humanitarian engagement in the promotion of volunteering undertaken by the Government of Saudi Arabia.