On the occasion of the 75th birthday of the United Nations, the UN and the European Union issued a challenge to the young people of the Kingdom of Lesotho to imagine the world in 25 years and to let us know what they would like the world to look like. Many have taken up the challenge and we chose ten essays which were particularly outstanding and original. They reflect concerns and anxieties shared by youth around the world – about inequalities, discrimination, unemployment, environmental degradation – but also dreams and aspirations for a more peaceful, more dignified, more prosperous future for all, and most important is the fact that all of the top ten recognized their own role, their responsibility for shaping the future they would like to see when the United Nations turn one hundred years.
We are grateful to all who participated in this contest, to all who raised their voice, expressed their views, and asserted their willingness to work hard for our common future. They have shown talent, courage, and imagination.
The UN Charter starts with the words "We the peoples of the United Nations…", and while the UN as an institutional framework is composed of member states' governments and of bureaucracies, it is the people of these member states and the individuals working in the UN agencies who form the United Nations, who give the global community purpose and direction. The United Nations is all of us. The participants in this writing contest have assumed their place as conscious world citizens.
The European Union is a collective and continuing effort to resolve social and political conflicts between European states and societies through dialogue and compromise, based on mutual respect and on rules jointly agreed. It has brought the longest period of peace ever experienced in the history of the European continent, as well as unprecedented prosperity and an unparalleled level of personal freedom for all citizens. But our fundamental values and our democratic practices will be forever threatened, from within and without, if we cannot pursue international cooperation based on solidarity, mutual respect, and shared responsibilities for our natural environment, on which we all depend. The European Union and the United Nations need and complement each other.