Two former British Prime Ministers were amongst the speakers on the first conference day of One Young World 2018 in The Hague.
Following Wednesday’s opening ceremony, Thursday’s agenda included speeches and plenary sessions on the topic of human rights to a room of more than 1,800 delegates from 190 countries.
Sir John Major took the stage in the morning for a question and answer session with One Young World’s inaugural Young Politician of the Year winners; Julius Karl Dugboer Fieve, Travis Robinson, Jordon Steele-John, and Naisula Lesuuda.
Mr Major called for a change to the United Nations’ permanent membership, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: “Once you do that and once you remove the single nation veto that Russia for example and sometimes China use so rigorously, you will be in a position to unshackle the good that the UN was intended to do.”
Singer-songwriter and activist Sir Bob Geldof spoke later, branding Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Viktor Orban “gang bosses”.
He said: “As individuals they may survive as the gang boss, but ultimately, their system will fail because it can never give to the people that which all individual people need and crave – which is freedom.”
Individual freedom and humanity were themes of another keynote from actor and activist Amber Heard, who shared her experiences working with refugees: “Living in those appalling conditions reminds me of what it is to be human. Not because it is easy, but because it isn’t.
“It is in those moments speaking to refugees, in their homes or in hospitals and they express a will to live. Where I see not discouragement, not disillusionment, but hope and encouragement.”
Earlier in the day, Ms Heard shared a stage with fellow One Young World Counsellors and delegates, including the UK’s Luke Hart, in a plenary session on the link between the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights.
Delegates from around the world speak about human rights at One Young World in The Hague. From left to right; Luke Hart, UK delegate with Kate Robertson, One Young World Co-founder, Yasmeen Mjalli, Palestinian delegate, Tamana Asey, Afghanistan delegate, Irwin Iradukunda, Burundi delegate, and Ibitissam Abaaziz, Netherlands delegate.
The afternoon included vital sessions on the refugee crisis and preventing child exploitation, before the initiative ‘Young Leaders Against Sexual Violence’ was launched by abuse survivors, and the actor and activist Rosario Dawson.
Former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman closed the day’s proceedings, after Gordon Brown paid tribute to the late Kofi Annan, calling him the “greatest diplomat of our generation”, vowing to continue the former UN Secretary-General’s work in fighting for universal education.
Mr Brown launched the global education fund to help the 260 million children currently not in school, and the 800 million who leave school with no qualifications.
He invited all One Young World delegates to join his mission, announcing the chance to be awarded $50,000 for their work in tackling education inequality, and the opportunity to attend the UN General Assembly in New York in 2019.
In an impassioned speech, Mr Brown said: “The best way to stop trafficking, slavery, child labour, is to stop these things happening by ensuring these children are at school, getting an education.
“I want to move from a world where only some countries develop some of the people some of the time, to a world where all countries develop all of the people all of the time.”
One Young World continues on Friday, you can view the day’s agenda here.