From 19 to 23 August 2013 twenty-one representatives of eight United Nations Youth Associations and UNA Youth Sections met in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana under the motto “By the youth, for the youth!”. Their aim was to decide on future projects of the United Nations Youth Associations Network, to revise its efforts of the last year and to strengthen capacities of Youth Organizations.
The Summit was hosted by UNA Slovenia and its first sessions took place at the Faculty of Social Sciences’ campus. After welcoming words by Prof. Maja Bučar, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, the agenda was set and the work could begin! During Brainstorming Sessions, the participants came up with new ideas for the working groups and with new projects.
Sustainability, in particular the promotion of green conferences, was an important issue throughout the summit, as well as IT. A new Working Group was established to provide IT-related solutions for other working groups, member MUNs and UNYANET.
In spring 2014, the UNYANET Advice Working Group is coordinating local cooperation seminars in Uganda and Bangladesh in order to establish a solid UNYANET base on other continents and make UNYANET a true global movement.
The MUN Working Group came up with concrete plans to foster cooperation between the MUN conferences of its members. A homepage section shall include a database including a list of chairs, the “UNYANET MUN partner network“ with non-member MUN societies will lead to mutual benefit regarding communication, organization and discount benefits. A “MUN passport“ shall give delegates a discount for MUNs of UNYANET members and their partner.
The Negotiation Club Working Group presented its last three online sessions and ways to optimize future ones, especially regarding technical issues and time zone differences which might occur when participants from different continents get together.
The PR Working Group dealt with increasing the interaction with its members associations’ local branches as well as with the establishment of a Press section and Press review to reach out to e.g. UN Information Centers, UNDPI and WFUNA.
Meeting the President and Capacity Building Seminars
The President of the Republic of Slovenia, H. E. Mr. Borut Pahor had the honorary patronage of the Annual Summit. In a vivid meeting on international politics, he stressed that youth engagement is crucial, especially when it comes to democratic processes.
UNYANET’s former President, Daniel Hardegger, held a workshop on leadership skills which included valuable advice on how to identify projects’ goals and challenges, on how to transmit values and on how to deal with feedback. Some of his core messages were “Never negotiate without hot coffee!“, “Build trust within your team!“, “Say thank you!” and last but not least “Always celebrate after reaching your goals!”.
Dr. Boštjan Udovič from the Faculty of Social Sciences held a workshop on diplomatic protocol, revealing details about etiquette and diplomatic manners.
During the workshop on negotiations, Dr. Marjan Svetličič from the Faculty of Social Sciences presented effective speech commandments, the concept of an “Contingency positive yes” and made the participants negotiate over distributed oranges: “Look for the peels! An unusual approach might make you successful!”
UNA Slovenia volunteer Ana Podgornik’s workshop on intercultural dialogue provided a hands-on experience for open and respectful interaction between individuals, groups and organizations with different cultural backgrounds or world views. Its aim was to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices, to increase participation and to enhance creative processes.
Later on, participants of the conference, representatives of the diplomatic missions in Ljubljana and of the Faculty of Social Sciences were invited to a reception by the Municipality, where they were addressed by the Vice-Mayor Ms. Tjaša Ficko.
A day trip to the European Youth Capital Maribor
On the third day of fruitful debates, participants took a break and discovered the beautiful inner city of Maribor, the European Youth Capital of 2013. The organizing team of the initiative presented their campaigns in thematic areas such as increasing employability, housing, volunteering, intercultural cooperation, youth participation, recognition of non-formal education, structured dialogue, youth mobility, ecology, cultural creativity and intergenerational cooperation in the KIŠ, the Cultural and Information Center. At the European Cultural and Technological Centre (EKTC) physical experiments and fun were represented at a practical level. The global village in the UNA Slovenia’s Headquarters fostered new and deepened existing friendships and familiarized participants through cultural diplomacy through culinary specialties and music of the countries of the participants of UNYANET Summit.
Outcomes of the General Assembly
On Friday the General Assembly gathered in the Ljubljana Town Hall. In a video message Mr. Janos Tisovszky, Director of the United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS Vienna), outlined his positive experience with UNYANET and thanked UNA Slovenia, and UNYANET’s presidency for their cooperation and ensured his continued full support for the network. Michael Klampfl thanked Mr. Tisovszky on behalf of the participants for his keynote speech and underlined how thankful UNYANET is to have such supporters.
With the consent of all Member Associations present, UNYANET was established as an Association under Swiss law, seated in Geneva. This decision strengthens UNYANET’s work in the future and eradicates potential doubts on its legal nature.
UNYANET welcomes its four new Member Associations: UNYSA Bangladesh, Consules (Italy), UN Youth Romania, and UNA Uganda Youth Section. Furthermore, UNYA Indonesia has obtained Observer Status. These associations will enrich the network substantially in the future.
A new motivated Executive Board was elected: Philine Frei (UNYA-Switzerland) will continue her successful work as Officer of the UNYANET Advice working group, Tim Wiegmann (UNYA-Germany) was elected as the Officer of the newly established IT working group, Daria Sauleo (Consules, Italy) will be chairing the MUN working group, Bernd Hermann (UNYSA-Austria) was confirmed as Officer of the Negotiation Club and Pau Petit Iglesias (UNA-Spain YS) assumed the PR working group.
Before conducting a vote on the two Presidency candidates a short presentation, in which the milestones of UNYANET have been pointed out, recapitulated what UNYANET is all about. Daniel Hardegger was especially acknowledged for his engagement and commitment during his Presidency, as he did not post his candidacy again. He received a big “Thank you!“ for his great work during the past two years and for the developments of the network which would not have been possible without him. Michael Klampfl (UNYSA-Austria) and Tjalke Weber (UNYA-Germany) were unanimously elected as the Presidency for the new term and will jointly continue the successful way of UNYANET!
About the author:
Anna-Katharina DEININGER is writing her diploma thesis in International Law at the University of Graz. She chairs the Graz Model United Nations Club and is a member of the International Relations Office of UNYSA Austria.