Millennial Power in World Affairs

Youth perspectives on international relations and foreign policy matter now more than ever. We live in a hyper-connected world where events across oceans are only a click away, and no generation is more prepared to handle today’s fast-changing international landscape than millennials. Moreover, young people worldwide are both deeply affected by and already influencing world affairs. It is vital for those who follow world affairs to hear millennial perspectives on current events and future possibilities.

The millennial generation is the largest and most diverse in U.S. history, according to a 2014 White House report. We are the most technologically savvy, globally connected, and likely to invest in our own human capital and education. Our cultural psyche has been deeply affected by growing up in a world radically different from our predecessors—a world of endless information and boundless possibility. Rather than a globe divided between Coca-Cola and Communism, we see a unique collection of rapidly evolving challenges such as climate change, transnational terrorism, human trafficking, and the erosion of the liberal international order, among others. We have the tools, compassion, and awareness needed to overcome these challenges and turn them into opportunities to unite, rather than divide.

Our generation is not waiting to make change. Household names like Emma Watson, who, in 2014, was appointed as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, are reshaping what it means to be influential global citizens. At ages 26 and 19, respectively, they symbolize a new generation of leaders that is serious and committed to change, draws from talent around the world and across professions, emboldens women, and views its youth as a strength.

These trailblazing public figures do not stand alone. In recent years, young people across the globe, from Cairo to Kiev, Hong Kong to Hanoi, have fought and sacrificed for the future wellbeing of their societies. It is well known that the Arab uprisings of 2011 were organized largely through social media and that young people were crucial and in the vanguard of the movements. Furthermore, shortly after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, an enormous grassroots movement first established on social media networks culminated in the Women’s March on Washington, drawing over half a million protesters to the U.S. capital and roughly five million elsewhere throughout the world on behalf of human rights. Millennials played an integral role in the birth and success of the movement, in part due to their knowledge of technology and shared desire to amplify their message globally.

Furthermore, many have noted Trump’s foreign policy is unclear and incoherent. Yet, after little more than a month, it is evident that this administration’s approach is challenging paradigms that have been orthodoxy for the past 70-plus years. Moving into this uncertain time, it is essential that the people who have the most to lose, the most life left to live, speak truth to power and influence the moves the global chess players make.

As we near the precipice of a new world order, understanding millennial perspectives on world affairs is more crucial than ever before. That is why we created Nations & States, a platform for young professionals passionate about the state of global affairs to have their voices heard.

Though we are not so foolish as to believe we know it all, the fact is millennials have easier access to information and educational resources than any previous generation. Our generation is often derided as lazy, naive, and selfish, but it has produced global leaders, as noted, who are smart, capable, and ready to address global challenges. Indeed, it is the actions of these young leaders and those who contribute to Nations & States and similar publications that make it clear that these criticisms could not be more deluded.

Image: Education Advocate Malala Yousafzai Attends Millennium Development Goals Event. UN Photo/Mark Garten. 18 August 2014. United Nations, New York.

Editorials reflect the collective opinion of the Nations & States Editorial Board, comprising Hannah Arrighi, Luke Drabyn, Andrea Fernández Aponte, Edward Mahabir, Amelia Oliver, and Avram Reisman.

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