Nidal Benali is the first Moroccan to represent the UN Major Group for Children and Youth.
The United Nations has appointed Al Akhawayn University Graduate Nidal Benali to represent the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY.) Benali will serve as one of its Global Focal Points for Peace and Security. The appointment makes him the first Moroccan under the age of 30 to be granted this diplomatic honor.
UN MGCY is the UN General Assembly’s “mandated, official, formal and self-organized mechanism” that aims to help “connect young people with the UN system to help ensure the realization of their right to meaningful participation.”
The organization works on a variety of issues at the global, regional, and national levels. The UN MGCY operates within the UN framework for human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security, resilience, and humanitarian action.
According to the UN MGCY, the group seeks to build a world on the collective principles of solidarity, justice, diversity, equity, universality, inclusion, human rights, and the integrity of the planet. It aims to do so to realize a world where young people and everyone else around the world are equal in decision making.
About Nidal Benali
Nidal Benali was born and raised in Asilah, a small town near the city of Tangier. He moved from the small city, where people treated each other as family, to Tangier. He faced significant challenges along the way in order to continue his studies after high school and obtain his bachelor degree in Political Science. He continued his studies by moving a second time, this time to Rabat to work on his master degree in the same major.
“I started working in Civil Society in my city at a young age and doing some volunteer work and especially now as the secretary-general of our local football team (chabab al dghalyen), I wish them all the luck,” Nidal told Morocco World News.
Nidal is a big fan of his experience at Al Akhawayn University where he is currently pursuing a master’s degree. His experience at university opened many doors for other opportunities for ambitious young students. He encourages other motivated young Moroccans to study at the university that he considers the best in Morocco.
Located in Ifrane city, in the midst of the Middle Atlas Mountains, Al Akhawayn University is an independent public coeducational university. The university’s name means two respective brothers (kings) which refer to Morocco’s former King Hassan II who opened the university in January 1995, and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia who largely funded the educational institution.
After being the president of the youth council in Asilah, Nidal initiated together with 15 other youth councils around Morocco, the local youth councils of Morocco, where he was elected as the chairman.
“The experience of local youth councils started from my city Assilah in 2012, and then I started to think about gathering a network of youth councils around Morocco in one single network, where we can work together and achieve our goals,” said Nidal.
“Our main goal is to work closely with youth in cities because I believe that real change always comes from the local level. We think locally and act globally, it is a network that can prepare our future leaders.”
Representing the UN Major Group for Children and Youth
The young aspiring diplomat was nominated by many international organizations, joined by the leadership of the UN MGCY. Nidal feels grateful for the trust the officials handed him to be in charge of the Global Focal Point (GFP) for Peace and Security.
“It is a position that has a one-year term, and it focuses on the security and peace agenda of the United Nations as well as Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the UN,” Nidal said as he explained his new position at the UN.
The Moroccan diplomat will have a challenging task ahead, working closely with young people around the world to promote peace. He will also work on a variety of cross-cutting topics related to youth, in collaboration with NGOs and young leaders.
“My goal is to work together and build a network with all the institutions that have direct interests in the UNs agenda, and also to try to reach young people,” Nidal told MWN.
“The MENA region is affected by the most conflicts and wars, I want to try to turn young leaders into peace ambassadors in their countries, to stop violence and build more peace.”
Inspirations and causes
Nidal’s inspirations come from his origins and background. They also stem from his country, which he is proud of. Nidal expressed pride that Morocco has always been the land of peace, opening its doors to all citizens around the world. In Morocco, Muslims, Jews, and Christians live in peace and harmony, making it a model of peace and security, which is what the young diplomat believes in, and fights for.
“Throughout history, Morocco as a kingdom has set the example of cultural coexistence and interaction between Islam and other religions, a thing that grows with us since our childhood,” he said.
Through his new position, Nidal will focus more on the issues of Peace and Security, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of the UN Agenda 2030. The 16th SDG seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for everyone and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
“The number of people fleeing war, persecution, and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018, those numbers ask us to collaborate to stop the violence and work altogether for more peace around the globe, and make peace our key to all the conflicts.”