See me walking down the 1st Avenue – A European in New York

As an intern at World Youth Alliance North America, I will have the opportunity to participate at the upcoming United Nation Commission for Social Development. The Commission starts tomorrow 3rd February with the title “Promoting social integration.” Today I, along with other staff and interns, participated the pre-commission civil society forum. It was an opportunity to contribute to a statement on behalf of civil society and grassroots organizations that will be presented at the UN Commission. The forum included two round table discussions in which Non-Governmental Organizations presented projects their projects and experiences in the realization of social integration. For me the more interesting presentation was one presented by a homeless person working for “Sure We Can,” a project that employs homeless and low-income New York residents in a can recycling program.

The afternoon sessions were a more decisive part of the day as members of the assembly split into twelve groups to discuss the draft statement. WYA’s eleven member delegation was distributed into different groups and went to work to identify and recommend critical changes to the document. For example, we recommended that the phrase “pursuit of dignity” be changed to “protection of dignity” since people cannot pursue what they intrinsically possess. Other points were more delicate but we barely had half an hour of discussion to cover them. Especially when addressing the question of discrimination, I took the opportunity to illustrate my arguments with my experiences from the European Union; which I hoped would make a difference. Each group was called upon to give a brief of their discussion at the close of the meeting. When the first group mentioned the change of “pursuit” for “protection” of human dignity, the moderator commented that this change came up in his group as well at which point many people in the room laughed; they probably had the same experience in their own groups. Shannon, the UN Advocacy Specialist congratulated WYA team at the end of the day for a job well done in influencing the document. I walked back from the UN to the WYA headquarters in the snow tired but excited about my first UN Commission.

Stéphanie, WYA intern in New York