Donnerstag, Juni 29, 2006


it's launched

Opening address
at the official launching ceremony
of the “All Different, All Equal” Campaign

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The idea of having a campaign was developed when working on the future work priorities of the youth sector of the Council of Europe. It was the suggestion of youth organisations as a contribution to furthering the priority of intercultural dialogue.

So standing here today, at the official launch ceremony, is a great testament to that original idea. Yet it is crucial to remain conscious that this is just a starting point to realising the vision and ambitions at the centre of the European campaign. ‘All different – all equal’.

Youth has always been at the front line of social change, and through this campaign, we are aiming to be the guardians, promoters and multipliers of the principles of Diversity, Human Rights and Participation.

We have many ideas on how to work with our peers to ensure true intercultural dialogue and social inclusion for all. Several projects have already taken place and many more are planned all over Europe. We want to reach out to more young people and also to those who remain unconvinced that the core values of the Council of Europe are still valid, relevant and should serve as the basis for contemporary societies.

We wish to emphasise that the principle of universal and indivisible human rights must prevail in a real and genuine manner. Many public authorities and institutions still fail to provide adequate answers to severe human rights violations and discrimination. We believe that we must hold everyone accountable for their actions and their lack of action in promoting legal and social rights.

Furthermore, we continue to be steadfast advocates for the participation and inclusion of young people in all levels of decision-making. The mainstream media continually portrays an image of young people as passive and apathetic. This is a simplistic view, and not reflective of our true diversity, potential and passion; yet we need to be provided with the means and the space to use our ideas and our energy constructively. There are also widespread stereotypes of stuffy, bureaucratic, and unreachable public authorities, and it is up to you to challenge these views, to open up to civil society and prove those clichés wrong.

To transform all the ideas on which the Campaign is founded into action we need to work together. Moreover, any actions undertaken will not have impact or be sustainable if they are one-offs; so they need to be done jointly between public authorities and youth organisations. Changing hostile and humiliating attitudes will be a lengthy process and there is still a need to provide more support; both politically and in terms of adequate resources.

Fears are the real frontiers in Europe; today’s borders are in our heads. I do not want to be afraid of who I am and I am sure that you all agree that no one should be. The reality though, is that in many places and situations I do have to be afraid of who I am, afraid of being open about my faith or who I am in love with.

I want to dare to be who I am, otherwise I will not be able to live up to my aspirations. This Campaign has then, also to address difficult and often controversial issues: this is the only way to assure real impact.

Europe needs a daring campaign to fight the fears of its own citizens, and it is us – together – who have to realize it. Our differences can be our strength if we build this Campaign on shared values.

We young people are committed, engaged and motivated to address these difficult but life changing issues and we’ll also have some fun running this campaign: a Campaign that matters and that can make a difference.

We have to be the change that we want to see.

excellent speech! i can perhaps see why f would tell you he was close to tears... quite powerful :-)
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