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The 4th consecutive Montessori Model United Nations
It is with great pleasure and pride that I would like to welcome you all to the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for the fourth consecutive Montessori Model United Nations sponsored by the US Federation for Middle East Peace. I would like to take this opportunity to extend warm greetings to you all on behalf of our organization. We are honored to welcome 1,400 students here today from 10 different countries who will be representing 96 countries. It is your integrity, honesty, academic excellence and devotion to the pursuit of peace that has brought you here today. I have emphasized, time and again, the importance of educating youth as one of the most crucial and effective steps towards establishing a lasting world peace. Your intelligence and vivacity, as well as your eagerness and willingness to learn, explore and expand your horizons are vital to the realization of a brighter future. My sincerest hope is for the lessons learned here today to be used towards the betterment of the situation of humankind the world over. Now more than ever, the importance of the contribution of the world’s youth towards progress and development cannot be overstated. As partners on this journey, the views, needs and desires of youths must be incorporated into any and all initiatives aimed towards shaping their futures. Your generation will soon be responsible for upholding the ideals enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is in your hands to ensure that poverty, hunger, discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex and social status as well as religious persecution become relics of a bygone age. Let us not forget your counterparts today who have not been afforded the same opportunities available to you. Though it may too easily be taken for granted, access to basic education is a privilege and a goal to which a large number of youths around the world aspire. Despite the fact that the right to free primary education is articulated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration, three in five children today, or 67 million, 53% of whom are female, are still denied this right. Although there has been a notable increase in the number of children enrolled in primary education which has risen from 646 million in 1999 to 702 million in 2009, barriers such as poverty, regional and local conflicts, gender discrimination, and transportation requirements have transformed what is seemingly a straightforward task into a process wrought with insurmountable obstacles. The Millennium Development Goals of achieving universal education and empowering women are inextricably linked. Educating children helps to reduce poverty and, in turn, the education of the girl child likely means later marriages and fewer offspring who will be more likely to survive and be better nourished and educated. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in 47 countries, girls are less likely than boys to enter the last grade of primary education. In terms of global poverty, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that 515 million youths aged between 15 and 24 live on less than two dollars a day, accounting for nearly 45% of all youths. In 2011, undernourishment contributed to 2.5 million deaths globally of children under the age of 5, whilst 100 million children in developing countries are underweight and 22,000 die each day due to poverty. Furthermore, 400 million of the 1 billion people who lack access to clean drinking water today are children. For these reasons, let us make it our mission today to ensure that the benefits that are reaped through the opportunities that have been given to us are shared with our counterparts across the world.