We are about two thirds of the way through the United States' April Presidency of the UN Security Council. It has been quite a month. Syria, North Korea, Sudan and South Sudan, Mali, Guinea-Bissau -- the Council has been working furiously on a broad range of issues spanning the entire globe.
However, as Ambassador Rice has repeatedly made clear, no discussion of international peace and security can take place without accounting for the half of the world's population that is under 25, which has a huge stake in the Council's debates every day. Fifteen months ago, during the last U.S. turn at the helm of the Security Council Presidency, Ambassador Rice presided over the first-ever Security Council event on youth. This time around, rather than invite the Council to discuss issues concerning youth, the U.S. Mission developed a program encouraging youth to take an interest in the work and activities of the Council.
We are doing this in a variety of ways: first, by reaching out to local high schools and universities and inviting students to attend open sessions of the Security Council. There are six such sessions, the first two of which have welcomed a total of more than 200 students to witness Security Council sessions. (By the way, if you have a class in the New York area, there are plenty of good seats left.)
The second way we are encouraging youth to follow the work of the Council is by targeting aspiring high school journalists to take an interest in the Council's work. On April 19, a group of 35 aspiring journalists from area high schools attended the Security Council's debate on nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear security. Following the session, students crossed the street to the U.S. Mission to hear from UN-accredited journalists about their careers in journalism and what it's like to cover the United Nations.
Later, Ambassador Rice held a press conference with the young journalists who were joined by other student-journalists from South Africa, Togo, Germany, Portugal, France, Russia, Morocco, India, Colombia, and Guatemala via State Department LiveAtState videoconference. You can watch the video of the press conference above.
Ambassador Rice encouraged all the participants to return to the United Nations one day: as journalists covering the UN, as public servants or representatives of their countries, or in "any myriad of different ways in which the world is open to you to serve your fellow human being.""But no matter what it is that you end up doing," she said, "I hope you will continue to raise your voice and exercise that vital right you have as a member of our common humanity and a citizen of this country or whatever country you come from to speak your mind, dream your dreams, and have every opportunity to realize those dreams, because, frankly, we need you, and we're counting on you to shape the world that we leave behind."