Student to Attend UN

Leiden student Elian Yahye (18, International Relations and Organisations) was elected UN youth delegate in the elections organised by the NJR youth council.

Youth delegate, what does that mean?
“I represent the UN to young people and young people to the UN, together with a colleague. She’s my senior. We’re going to set up all sorts of projects here and I’m allowed to join the Dutch delegation at the sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Young Dutch people will have their say through me.

“I’ve been told that it means about twenty to thirty hours of work every week. So that means I’ll have to keep adjusting my schedules and priorities, but so far, my course is not very demanding. And a twelve-month delay is not too bad.”

Do other countries have youth delegates?
“There are several countries that have youth delegates, but the Dutch election system is unique. I had to write a letter. Ten candidates were invited for an interview. Five went on to the next round, which was a debate, and the final two had to launch a campaign: make films, post flyers, mobilise other people and collect endorsements. I had an endorsement from the Mayor of Leiden.

You chose the position of ethnical and cultural minorities as the theme for your profile. Why?
“I’ve noticed how important that theme is. In Syria, for instance, the position of minorities is very unstable. The whole world should pay more attention to it. But I also want use my position as a youth delegate to connect groups that are hardly aware of each other. I want to connect the UN, which has a reputation as a club for well-educated people, to underprivileged districts and small, country villages.

“As for myself, I’m half Somali, half Dutch. I asked Leiden students to help with my campaign, but there was also a Somali lady in Friesland who went round the houses for me.” MVW

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