UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Kiyo Akasaka kick-started his two-day visit to New Delhi with a lively interaction with students from 12 Delhi schools. Hosted and organized by Springdales School (Pusa Road), the visit began with a traditional welcome by the students and faculty, led by school Principal Amita Mulla Wattal.
The interaction was preceded by a seminar on Human Rights, during which the students discussed issues ranging from the right to life, the rights of prisoners, and the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, to the rights of terror suspects, the right to political participation and the rights to education, among others. The discussion was moderated by Nirmalya Samanta of Delhi University and journalist Seema Chishti. Praising the quality of the debates, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in New Delhi’s
Assistant Information Officer, Rineeta Naik said she hoped the seminar would become an annual feature at the school and that UNIC stood ready to collaborate by providing guidance, research assistance and information material.
Addressing the students, UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman said Mr. Akasaka’s visit rounded off a series of exciting activities and events by UNIC, many of them involving youth. The International Year of Youth
, which concluded in August this year, and the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers
, she added, were some of the many attempts by the UN “to engage with young people like you.”
Mr. Akasaka was then invited to address the gathering. “I am delighted to be in your country,” the USG said. “India holds great promise thanks to its growing economic strength as well as its significant role in world affairs, including at the United Nations.”
Having just concluded their seminar, the students were full of questions and comments on the role of the UN in protecting and promoting human rights. They also sought the USG’s views on the delivery of humanitarian aid, Security Council reform and prospects for the Millennium Development Goals
USG Akasaka responded to the queries at length, describing the challenges before the world body as well as the successes achieved. He also emphasized the importance of peace education, the need for a world free of nuclear weapons, and the important role that India could play in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He also urged the students to learn more about the UN and its work and to consider how they could contribute to progress on the UN’s key objectives of peace, development and human rights. “We can make a difference – the song just presented by the school choir encapsulates the vision of the United Nations,” Mr. Akasaka said.