Speech by Mayor Jan van Zanen at the event for UN youth representatives, 1 November 2021


Hello everybody,


How good it is to see you all here together today.

Here in the Humanity Hub.

In the heart of our UN city of The Hague.

Thank you very much Mert, for the invitation.

More than a year ago, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

We had to do that in an almost empty Peace Palace.

The symbol of our international city of peace and justice.

Fortunately, the situation has now changed and we can be together again.

Nevertheless, I will remember the celebration in the Peace Palace, where I had the pleasure of seeing Mert and five other young people present The Hague Youth Manifesto.

A first and important step towards the inclusion of young people in the UN.

As Mayor of The Hague I am very proud that this initiative began here, in our city.

With the support of Professor Alanna O’Malley.

Professor O’Malley is Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice at Leiden University, a position which was created in honour of my predecessor, Jozias van Aartsen.

But: words and good intentions alone, are not enough.

That is why it’s so important that this meeting is taking place.

To further reflect on the role of young people in the UN and especially:

What form this can take.

More than ever before it is important that young people are able to do more than just make their voices heard.

And that they are seated around the table and involved in the decision making.

This is the direction we need to take.

And not just in international fora, such as the United Nations.

But in European, national, regional and local bodies, too.

Because it’s about your future.

A future which will be defined by sustainability, inclusivity and solidarity.

A future in which, to loosely quote Spinoza, every single person is free from fear and can live in safety.<


Wherever you may live or have been born.

However you define your identity.

Whether you practise a faith or not.

Freedom from fear was one of the Four Freedoms formulated by President Roosevelt that laid the foundations for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Part of our DNA as a UN city.

I wish you all a highly productive meeting.

Please keep me informed of the results.

Know that you can always count on me.

Thank you very much.