Russian Federation

At Junior 8 Youth Forum, delegates strategize to put intolerance in check

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Russia/2006/Svirid
French delegates to the Junior 8 Youth Forum in Russia celebrate a draw against chessmaster and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Anatoly Karpov during simultaneous games he played against eight youth teams.

By John Varoli

PUSHKIN, Russia, 13 July 2006 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and chessmaster Anatoly Karpov visited the Junior 8 summit here yesterday to speak with youth delegates about intolerance and his work fighting iodine deficiency among children.

“We are all one family,” said Mr. Karpov, a 16-time world chess champion, when asked why young people must strive for greater global cooperation.

Asked why he chose to support UNICEF’s campaign to eliminate iodine deficiency, he replied: “Memory is very important for chess players, and iodine deficiency can lead to memory impairment and many other health problems.”

After fielding questions from the youth delegates, Mr. Karpov invited them for a friendly game of chess. He took on all the teams simultaneously, defeated seven of them; only the French forced him to a draw.

“It’s incredible that we finished with a draw against a guy who was world champion,” said Xavier Attwell, 15, a member of the French delegation. “My Dad will be so proud of me.”

Breaking down barriers

The remainder of the day was dedicated to the issue of intolerance. The Junior 8 delegates presented strong positions on how to tackle the problem.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Russia/2006/Svirid
Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov congratulates Marion Gasperment of the Junior 8 delegation from France.

“Intolerance poisons the atmosphere in society,” said Shingo Horibe, 17, of Japan. “Intolerance is an issue that each one of us must face and struggle with personally. It’s not just an issue for governments.’’

Other delegates expressed concern that children are growing up in a world increasingly beset by barriers that divide people and negatively affect the way they view each other.

“We are one world, and we can’t go on separating the world into rich and poor, north and south, black and white,” said Janusch Krasberg, 17, of Germany. “And by taking on the issue of intolerance we can contribute to solving other problems, such as HIV and terrorism.”

‘We want a say’

Among the youth delegates’ suggestions for fighting intolerance were the following:

  • Educate people about how intolerance can lead to violence and war
  • Fight attempts to scapegoat certain groups
  • Foster communication between different groups
  • Put pressure on repressive governments and intolerant religious leaders
  • Facilitate acceptance of immigrants into the mainstream, but without any coercion to abandon their ethnic identities
  • Punish those who discriminate on the basis on ethnicity, religious identity and gender.

“The G8 leaders are the most powerful men and women in the world, but I don’t think they always see the urgency of the problems facing the world,” said Janusch. “We see the urgency in solving all these issues because we want to build a better world, and so we want a say in the decisions made now that will impact our future.”


 

 

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