GHANAIAN Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Youth Icons Ghana, which has been on the forefront of youth empowerment and the promotion of peace and nonviolence, received a massive boost when the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), based in New York, invited the organization to participate in a seminar on the Role of Africa in the United Nations (UN).
In a telephone conversation with DAILY GUIDE from New York, the NGOâ€™s founder and Executive Director, Nana Yaw Osei-Darkwa said the invitation to participate in such a high profile meeting, which was attended by stalwarts in the US Foreign Service and UN heavyweights, was a clear manifestation of the recognition of the work of Youth Icons Ghana.
He said the meeting, which focused on the role of Africa in the United Nations had a lot of prominent people addressing the audience. These people are the Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, Ambassador Tete Antonio, the Joint Special Representative, African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari. The others include Ambassador Gerald W. Scott, Africa Area Advisor for the U.S Mission to the United Nations and former Ambassador to the Republic of Gambia and Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, President of Cohen &Woods International who also doubles as the Project Director for the Africa Project, National Committee on American Foreign Policy and Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Nana Yaw Osei-Darkwa said participating in the seminar was a great eye opener and believed that Youth Icons invitation was in the right direction, adding that it was important that the youth of Africa understood the continentâ€™s role in affairs of the United Nations and what it represented. He said Africa remained one of the power blocks in the United Nations system with its 54 membership, and indicated that Africa had and continued to distinguish itself in the service of the United Nations.
He stressed â€śit is extremely important that the youth of the continent are invited to participate in AU meetings and meetings like this to ensure that as leaders of tomorrow, we get the opportunity to learn at the feet of distinguished Africans like Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, whom from all indications had distinguished himself at the UN level.â€ť Mr. Osei-Darkwa said mentorship was a big issue that needed to be addressed on the continent if progress was to be made. He quizzed â€śfor example, how has the rise of Dr Kofi Annan directly benefitted Ghanaian and African youth. I think that a conscious effort must be made for personalities like Kofi Annan to engage and mentor young diplomats on the continent to ensure that they benefit from his wealth of experience which is not in doubt.â€ť
The Executive Director also indicated that one thing that really was of great concern to him during the meeting was a disclosure made by Ambassador Tete Antonio. According to the ambassador, about 80% of Africans serving in the United Nations would be retiring in the next four years. â€śIf this was anything to go by then my simple question is what deliberate effort is being made to ensure that more young Africans are being sponsored into the United Nations system,â€ť he quizzed.
Mr. Osei-Darkwa was accompanied by the Head of Operations of the United States Chapter of Youth Icons, Felix Sarpong and a senior Board Member Dr Richard Rapaport, a distinguished Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and global Icon for Peace.