There was a truly international feel to the Conference: Croatian, Belgian, Swiss, Spanish, Greek, British, Polish, French and Romanian youth attended. These young people returned to their home countries having gained not just expertise, but a renewed sense of vigour regarding the necessity of uniting European youth to serve a common goal: the defense of human dignity.
The ELC included question and answer sessions from speakers such as Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and members of the European Parliament as Alojz Peterle, Marijana Petir, Arne Gericke. It was also an exercise in solidarity, with members participating in daily group training sessions, and, on a more lighthearted note, enjoying a scavenger hunt.
The three panels of the ELC focused on Youth Unemployment, the Family, and the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The participants praised all the panels, but particularly the third one, which was held on the anniversary of the Convention and as such drew more participants than the other panels.
Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Culture, Education and Youth, opened the the Youth Unemployment and Youth Guarantee panel. It touched upon the most pressing concerns facing the youth today. The panel raised questions of widespread unemployment and disaffection throughout Europe, but also discussed optimistically the possibilities and potential that youth have to offer.
The third panel, on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Role of the Family in Shaping Responsible Citizenship, was very popular. Parts of the declaration were examined by speakers such as Ignacio Socias from the International Federation for Family Development, which has been working hard for the celebration of the 2014 International Year of the Family in collaboration with United Nations.
The last day of the conference ended with viewings from the Manhattan International Film Festival (MIFF), which took place in WYA’s Brussels office. The American Mission to the European Union generously sponsored the MIFF and their officer for human rights joined us for the event. The excellent selection of films included a touching Croatian entry about a young man with Down syndrome that manages to hold down a job and live his life in dignity—a natural favorite film for our Croatian attendees.
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