1. Content Brief
  2. Theme
  3. Session 1 — Realising our Universal Ideals
    1. Extreme Poverty
    2. Human Rights: Slavery
    3. Access to Healthcare
    4. Road to Good Governance
  4. Session 2 — Achieving Socio-economic Equality
    1. Income and Social Stratification
    2. Education
    3. Youth Employment
    4. Gender Equality
    5. Immigration and Inclusivity
  5. Session 3 — Global Partnership
    1. Responsibility to Protect
    2. Developmental Aid
    3. Natural Disasters and International Humanitarian Response
    4. International Conferences and Summits

Content Brief:

  • There will be 3 student dialogue sessions, each revolving around a distinct sub-theme. Sub-themes will be based on the summit theme of Global Inclusivity, Shared Responsibility.
    • Session 1 (Realising Our Universal Ideals) seeks to identify the challenges in achieving various universal aspirations that the global community holds and find ways to realise them.
    • Session 2 (Achieving Socio-economic Equality) seeks to investigate the reasons for disparities in standards of living and explore solutions to bridge these differences.
    • Session 3 (Global Partnership) seeks to examine the current efforts by the international community that address pertinent global issues and from there, distill principles and applicable lessons.
  • Each of the sub-themes will be further explored in a series of topics. In addition to a formal presentation on the topic, delegates will also engage in a group discussion on the individual topics, while constantly drawing links to the summit theme and sub-themes.
  • Delegates are encouraged to share about their country’s involvement in the issues at hand, if applicable.

  • Theme


    “ We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” -Cesar Chavez, Labour Leader and Civil Rights Activist

    While ‘progress’ is commonly associated with advancements in the sciences and the arts, true progress transcends this description. To echo the words of Cesar Chavez, genuine progress must be inclusive: it is not about adding to the abundance of those who have much, but assisting those who have little. Hence, even as we celebrate mankind’s myriad achievements, it is also essential that we focus our attention upon the social problems which still permeate in communities.

    The Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit is a palette of global diversity: as mutual sharing of perspectives and learning takes place, participants should aspire towards deepening their understanding of the challenges that communities around the world face, developing cultural empathy as well as identifying with the universalities of the human experience. From the poverty cycle to human rights movements, young leaders should develop a keen sense of awareness about these social issues that we face as a global community, as well as review the efforts that have been made at addressing them. Subsequently, with this knowledge forming the bedrock of their understanding, young leaders should seek to translate their sense of responsibility and connection into innovative solutions for local and global challenges.

    Ultimately, all of us have the potential to be catalysts of change. By proactively caring for our peers, the community and society, we contribute to a more peaceful and progressive world. This is certainly easier said than done, but there is power in a shared vision and strength in collective will. As such, we look forward to an inspiring summit where young leaders will recognize the key role they play in laying the foundations of global progress, and be empowered to create and actualize their visions for a better world.

    Session 1 — Realising our Universal Ideals

    Nations often aspire towards realising the universal ideals specified in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Millennium Developmental Goals, as these ideals are widely regarded as the foundations of progress and higher standards of life. However the roads to achieving these ideals tend to be hindered by entrenched mindsets and the lack of awareness and action, and the extent to which these ideals have been achieved varies among different groups of people. As young leaders, we have a crucial role to play in realising these ideals and can look towards these words of Eleanor Roosevelt for guidance, “Without concerted citizen action to uphold them (universal human rights) close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” As the same concept extends to all our universal ideals, only by coming together to overcome the aforementioned challenges can we pave the way for the global community to achieve progress.

    Extreme Poverty

    The Earth Institute of Columbia University estimates that nearly one-sixth of the global population survives on less than US$1 daily. Every 3 seconds, one person dies of starvation. The death toll from extreme poverty is akin to that of a major natural disaster that repeats every two weeks. Despite the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, the global community has offered a disturbingly muted response. As a result, extreme poverty remains a roadblock in the global community’s path to progress. In this session, delegates will examine the underlying causes of extreme poverty and measures to alleviate, if not solve the problem.

    Human Rights: Slavery

    Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. However, while more than 50 years have passed since the Declaration was ratified by most governments of the world, blatant human trafficking for sexual slavery, forced labour and child soldiers remains. With 27 million people enslaved and the number still growing, modern-day slavery is a pertinent problem that delegates will address in this session by examining the reasons for slavery, as well as the efforts that have been made to address them.

    Access to Healthcare

    In the words of Gro Brundtland, the former Director-General of the World Health Organisation, “Never have so many had such broad and advanced access to health care. But never have so many been denied access to health.” Her words aptly reflect the imbalance in the distribution of healthcare in the world, where a significant number of patients’ conditions tend to worsen due to the inadequacy or absence of medical resources. In addition, in certain countries, the distribution and usage of vaccines tend to be largely disorganised, hampering their effectiveness in preventing the spread of diseases. Human development cannot be achieved without addressing the basic issue of health. Thus in this session, delegates will examine case studies of countries where barriers restrict individuals’ access to healthcare and the possible solutions to resolve the imbalances in healthcare distribution.

    Road to Good Governance

    There exists a variety of government systems in the world today. In spite of these variances, good governments strive towards basic and common aims such as the provision of social welfare, maintaining good economic growth and opening up opportunities for their people to succeed. However the achievement of these aims is often impeded by corrupt practices and the lack of enforcement of fair legal frameworks. For instance, the ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled by protests in Tahrir Square in 2011 due to his focus on benefits to politicians above benefits to people. As citizens of their country, delegates have a crucial role to play as effective checks and balances for their governments. In this session, delegates can thus identify the features of a good government, review existing challenges nations face in achieving good governance and examine the role they play in aiding their countries on the road of good governance.

    Session 2 — Achieving Socio-economic Equality

    As relatively privileged youths who are rarely sensitised to problems of socio-economic inequality, it is all too easy for us to forget that many sectors of society continually struggle against disparities in living standards. These struggles occur both in the economic realm of income and employment, as well as the social sphere of education and gender equality. To holistically understand what we can do to progress, we should closely observe society around us and recognise the inequalities that still exist. In this session, delegates will examine the socio-economic inequalities in society, discuss their main causes and impacts as well as explore the solutions for them on the governmental, societal and individual levels.

    Income and Social Stratification

    In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement’s explosive political slogan – “We are the 99%” – reflected the widespread discontent against income inequality. Two years on, the high concentration of wealth among the affluent, while the poor and the middle-class suffer, remains an unsolved problem. This widening discrepancy in income exacerbates the problem of declining social mobility, and impedes the achievement of inclusive economic progress for everyone. It is hence necessary that delegates look at methods to alleviate this situation such that those who start off with less are better able to catch up and make progress in attaining their economic aspirations.


    Education was once hailed as the panacea to resolving social inequalities, with disadvantaged sectors of society given an equal chance for self-improvement and progress. However, the playing field has changed drastically over time such that in present day, education is no longer the social leveller it once was. Children from well-to-do families can afford enrichment classes, enjoy an early boost in their education journey as compared to those from less privileged backgrounds, and are likely to stay ahead for the rest of their student and adult life. Studies have shown that improving the quality and reach of a society’s education system can help to drive society forward and reduce existing inequalities. As students directly involved in various education systems, delegates can provide their unique perspectives on how the quality of education can be improved such that education can continue to become engines of opportunity, rather than bastions of the privileged.

    Youth Employment

    In recent years, the world has been facing a worsening youth employment crisis—according to the International Labour Organisation, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. As of end-2012, UK has been facing a 20.5% youth unemployment rate while over 50% of South African youths are struggling to get by. Left alone, youth employment is an issue set to add to the high poverty rate in the developing world. In addition, it has the potential to become a breeding ground for political agitation and can destabilise fragile economies. As youths who will be entering the global job market in the future, delegates can explore the reasons and ways to tackle the youth employment crisis.

    Gender Equality

    A modern progressive world needs equality, and the story of women’s struggle for equality is the struggle for basic human rights. However the road to gender equality is hampered by political frameworks that are biased against women and entrenched mindsets about the role women should play in society. As such, there exist glass ceilings of various degrees in societies, and ignoring this issue means that it will be increasingly difficult for women to achieve an equal standing with men. Hence in this session, delegates will investigate the reasons for gender inequality and the means through which the different treatment of men and women can be bridged.

    Immigration and Inclusivity

    With globalisation, the world has seen an upward trend of immigration in various nations as more people seek job opportunities or better living conditions beyond their homelands. However, these foreign environments also tend to be hotbeds of ethnic and social tensions between the migrants and citizens of the country, which then manifest themselves in different ways. As youths living in societies that are likely to face this problem, we encourage delegates to share their experiences and identify the underlying commonalities that each society faces. In doing so, they can tackle this issue more effectively through innovative solutions and help make the society they live in a more inclusive one.

    Session 3 — Global Partnership

    According to the Human Development Report (2003), “Many global environmental problems […] can be solved only through partnerships between rich and poor countries.” Keeping in mind our aim for inclusive development, this is indeed true, not just for environmental problems, but for many other pertinent global issues as well. Increasingly, however, countries have also been criticised for their lack of commitment to the global effort and this further highlights the importance that is placed on international cooperation in the contemporary world. In this session, we seek to understand global partnerships on two tiers. Firstly, we will examine the international response to localised conflicts, such as natural disasters; secondly, we will focus on long-term programmes aimed at global inclusivity through the protection and advancement of the global community’s collective interest. We will also evaluate their effectiveness, and contemplate the lessons we can extrapolate and apply as young leaders who seek to build a more inclusive world.

    Responsibility to Protect

    On the basis of racial inferiority, the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust in the Second World War. In 1994, the international community stood by and watched as 800 000 Tutsis in Rwanda were brutally and systematically annihilated, only managing a belated response months later. In the lesser known Croatian War of Independence between 1991 and 1995, 100 000 Serbians were the victims of “ethnic cleansing”. Moral outrage at these atrocities saw the passing of the UN Genocide Convention and the development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. In this session, delegates are encouraged to consider the role of the global community in such cases where blatant infringement of human rights take place and distill lessons for modern scenarios.

    Developmental Aid

    Many nations have sought to climb up the economic ladder and seek greater prosperity through undertaking huge loans and consuming high levels of aid from more developed countries or international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund. While developmental aid may seem altruistic, it is said to come with “many strings attached”, which has heavy implications on the sustained development of third world countries. Many of these countries descend into a vicious cycle of continuous borrowing, which in turn results in a serious debt crisis. In this session, delegates should review the impacts of developmental aid and consider its relevance in the modern world.

    Natural Disasters and International Humanitarian Response

    Natural disasters, such as tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes have devastating effects on life and property. This can be seen from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which had a death toll of an estimated 300 000 while the 2011 Japan earthquake saw the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people who struggled to reconstruct their lives in the post-disaster period. In light of such calamities, many nations commonly come forward to render aid. In this session, delegates will evaluate the international responses to such disasters, and suggest methods to improve existing humanitarian aid mechanisms.

    International Conferences and Summits

    In our highly interconnected world, it is not uncommon to see international conferences and summits bringing world leaders together to discuss pertinent global issues, with the aim of addressing their common needs and rendering help to parties that require them. For instance, in 2012, leaders from 194 countries gathered in Doha for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. However, the efficacy of such meetings is contentious, as bureaucratic red-tape and self-interests hamper progress on the summit goals. It is interesting to note that APYLS is a microcosm of such leadership summits, and delegates are encouraged to reflect upon their experiences and the roles in the summit as young leaders.

    For more details regarding sub-themes and topic allocations, download the full document

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