The World Youth Alliance (WYA) started with Anna Halpine who stood up for her belief in the dignity of the person at the United Nations in 1999. Today, WYA has spread to six regions and continues to attract young people who wish to defend the dignity of the person through advocacy, education and culture.
The World Youth Alliance started with the conviction of one individual who stood up for her belief in the dignity of the human person on the international stage of human rights. In 1999, the World Youth Alliance was founded in New York City at the United Nations.
At a conference on Population and Development, Anna Halpine witnessed a group of thirty two young people claiming to represent all three billion of the world’s youth. The group was given the floor, and demanded three things they claimed were necessary for development:
Realizing that these basic needs were ignored, Anna immediately decided to act. The next morning, she returned to the assembly with a few others and distributed flyers.
The development of the whole person includes the moral, spiritual, emotional, intellectual as well as the physical dimensions. Please do not reduce us to our sexual faculties. Our main concerns are issues relating to education, family, employment and development.
Please don’t “reserve and move on”. Hold fast to principles for our future.
– Excerpt from the pink flyer Anna distributed at the United Nations
With the dignity of the human person as her focus, Anna called for a discussion on topics addressing basic human rights and necessities. Her statement was so well-received by delegations that she was requested to maintain a permanent presence at the United Nations, as well as to work with youth from the delegates’ countries. WYA was born.
The debate at the UN is fundamentally a debate about the human person. Who is the human person? Is the human person an object to be used or a subject with inviolable dignity, who stands at the center of all policies and initiatives?
‘Is the human person an object to be used or a subject with inviolable dignity, who stands at the center of all policies and initiatives?’
The World Youth Alliance affirms that the dignity of the person is intrinsic, and cannot be given or taken from the human person. Persons have human rights precisely because they have dignity. It is not the responsibility of the state to give and take away these rights; the human person, a being with intrinsic dignity, already possesses those rights. It is the responsibility of the state to recognize and to respect this inherent dignity of the person. Understanding the right answer to the question ‘who is the human person’ determines the direction of our world’s policy, our culture, and ultimately our vision for humanity.
On a global scale the dignity of the person is being threatened in real ways. Human cloning, abortion, the continued spread of HIV/AIDS and the ways in which foreign aid can be imposed on local communities are all symptoms of a flawed understanding of the human person. WYA’s work has brought the voice of young people to participate at international conferences and dialogue with ambassadors, diplomats, and state leaders. We are witnessing a new cultural transformation among a generation of youth who are being inspired and equipped with the tools necessary to propose a new vision of the person to the world.
WYA’s work has brought the voice of young people to participate at international conferences and dialogue with ambassadors, diplomats, and state leaders.
Today, the World Youth Alliance works to understand and articulate the idea of the human person. We work at international institutions such as the United Nations, European Union, and Organization of American States and with young people internationally to build a culture that supports and nurtures the dignity of each human person. We focus on:
In each of these areas we are working with young people and diplomats, intellectuals, leaders and citizens from every background and experience in order to develop proposals that address the problems we face and offer creative solutions.