Children from a dozen countries met with the President of the General Assembly and toured the United Nations on a federal holiday in the United States honouring the late civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martin Luther King Jr.
Swarming the office of President Csaba Kőrösi, the children – who ranged in age from toddler to high-school teen – pulled on the UN and Hungarian flags that flank a UN seal in the office and ran around to look at the skyline outside of the balcony, according to a UN news on Tuesday (Jan 17).
Meanwhile, parents tried to keep them from touching anything and nervously eyed a glass table that usually holds talking points for meetings with Heads of State and Government.
“Will there still be a world by the time we have kids,” one of the children asked the President.
“That’s what the work of the General Assembly tries to guarantee,” replied Kőrösi, who sometimes mentions his now adult daughter in speeches, recalling the motivation she has given him to keep pushing for a sustainable transformation in the world.
The next stop for the group was a tour of the United Nations, led by UN Tour Guide Jonathan Mishal who helps to lead the UN’s children’s tours twice a week.
Sitting the multilingual group in front of world flags pinned into a wooden tree, Mr. Mishal discussed the importance of the UN for global cooperation: “This is the one place in the world where countries that are at war sit right next to each other, go downstairs for coffee, and discuss why they disagree.”
Mr. Mishal noted also the importance of young people’s involvement in the UN, referring to Malala and Greta Thunberg – both of whom addressed the chamber.
The setting was known to the older children, whose parents work for the UN, and have grown up in international settings speaking Arabic, French, English, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Mandarin, Romanian, and Spanish.
Comfortable in their surroundings, the children made suggestions for improving world affairs on the local stage – “my parents don’t always listen to me” – to improving the actual General Assembly –bigger translation ear pieces to accommodate big earrings.
Mr. Mishal continued the tour, with a nod to MLK Day, by discussing discrimination.
Martin Luther King Jr. visited the UN in 1967, meeting to discuss the situation of civil rights in the United States with senior UN official and also Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ralph Bunche.
In a tweet for the Day, President Kőrösi said Dr. King’s vision aligns with UN ideals of human rights, economic and social justice, and peace around the world: “As we look to crisis management and transformation, the work of the General Assembly is inspired by his courage and conviction.”
Earlier in the day, President Kőrösi welcomed the second cohort of the Youth Fellows – six young women and men from developing countries who will work within his office through September.