October 10, 2017, by Editor

Speech by Sonia Sughayar, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Jordan to the United Nations, and Recipient of the Recent Alumni Laureate Award for the year 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel extraordinarily honored and touched to stand before you all today. It is always great to be in the company of the next generation of youth leaders.

I am deeply humbled and delighted to be receiving the 2017 Alumni Laureate Award from this distinguished University which has chosen to bestow this honor upon me.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my Professor Ms. Catherine Gegout for nominating me and for her encouragement and support. I profoundly thank all members of the board who selected me for this Award.

It is in this University that I learned the value of a solid education, the value of wisdom and knowledge, and it is in this University I spent one of the best years in my life. Therefore, I may say that this honor does not only belong to me but to all of you the graduates of the University of Nottingham.

I am reminded by two words that one of my Professors at this university told me when I asked him on the reason why I didn’t get a distinction on one of my essays in the module of counter-terrorism, which I worked hard on it, and thought that it met the criteria of an excellent essay that has good argument, structure and evidence.  “New Idea… You have not brought up any new idea in your essay”. New Idea…Two words that left a big impact on me and inspired me to always think of how to bring an innovative idea and make a difference.

It may not happen immediately because simply you may not find the right opportunity to translate what you have in mind into concrete actions. But eventually the opportunity will knock at your door and at that point you should be smart to seize it. Remember that efforts aren’t always rewarded right away and success is a journey that only becomes brighter when we have the determination and willingness to try and fail, and try again until we reach our goal.

It happened that in 2014 Jordan became a Non-Permanent Member of the Security Council for a two year term, and that was my opportunity to serve in my country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York; during which I contributed to introducing the first ever resolution in the Security Council on youth, which was named Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. I am proud to have led the negotiations on this significant resolution.

Today’s world is facing political upheaval, the rise of violent extremism and terrorism, intolerance, and hatred toward those who are different than you. But We should not give in to fear and hatred, but to defeat the ideology of extremism and terrorism. But such growing threats cannot be confronted by any one country or any one leader, or by conventional ways and policies, or with marginalizing women or youth, the most important categories in any nation. This is why it was crucial to establish a new agenda on youth in the United Nations to enable young men and women play an active role in preventing and countering those threats, and building peace in their communities. You should not be endangered by non-state actors, extremists and terrorists. We should not accept a world in which youth are denied opportunity and a recognition of their positive role in peacebuilding.

If we are serious about building stronger and more resilient societies, we need to be serious about empowering youth and enhancing their positive role. Our countries can fulfill their potential only when they unlock the potential of every young man and woman, and give them the chance to be actively engaged in the development, peacebuilding and prosperity of their communities. Youth are not only the future but they are the present.

One last thought I would like to share with you today. As you go out into the world to seek the fulfillment of your dreams, I urge you all to free yourselves from any limits and use the creative power of your minds. Believe in your capabilities since they are limitless and can help you to transform your lives as well as others’ lives. Believe that you are valuable and deserving of every opportunity to pursue your dreams and aspirations. And only then your life will end up being a true success.

Therefore, I’m very proud to accept the Alumni Laureate Award, and while awards are always amazing to receive, just knowing that I contributed to making a positive difference in the lives of many generations of youth is truly rewarding enough.

Thank you very much.


Posted in Student voices