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75 Years of the World Federation of Democratic Youth: A Legacy of Peace, Anti-Imperialism, and International Friendship

YCL-LJC Central Executive Committee, November 10, 2020

November 10th, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY).

Taking place in Budapest, Hungary among the still-burning embers of the Second World War, the 1945 World Youth Conference sought to unite youth against the forces of fascism and war, and to fight for a brighter future for the young people of the world. This initial conference, just a small taste of what was to come, included representatives across ethnicities, nations, religions, and backgrounds from 63 different countries. Pledging to fight for peace and international solidarity, WFDY quickly expanded, earning itself consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, being presented with the Peace Messenger Award by the UN General Secretary in 1987, and soon representing youth and students from nearly 100 different countries.

WFDY has also organized the World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) since its inauguration in 1947. Held regularly since its debut in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the Festival has historically served as a meeting place for progressive youth from around the world, hosting participants from all corners of the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia and organizing large cross-cultural actions against imperialism and for peace. WFYS, like the World Federation of Democratic Youth, was built from young peoples’ commitment to peace and class-conscious solidarity following the global devastation of WWII, and has always sought to reject war, fascism, and racism, and to forge strong connections across the world. The most recent WFYS took place in Sochi, Russia, in 2017 and included 30,000 participants from 185 countries; it carried the slogan “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honouring our past, we build the future!” Before 2017, the biggest Festival by countries participating was the 13th, which took place in Pyongyang, DPR Korea in 1989, and included 22,000 participants from 177 different countries, including a large delegation headed by the YCL-LJC.

Five YCLers hold up the banner of the Pan-Canadian Delegation at 2017's World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi. General Secretary Ivan Byard raises his fist. The banner is blue and reads
YCLers at the 2017 World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia

As a long-time member of WFDY, the YCL-LJC has been responsible for organizing a Pan-Canadian delegation to the World Festival of Youth and Students. These Pan-Canadian delegations are, crucially, representative not only of Anglo-Canada, but of the numerous national minorities within Canada: from Indigenous and First Nations to Franco-Canadian minorities and Quebec. These broad delegations have sought to unite youth from all nations across Canada who strive for peace, international solidarity, and justice, and to exchange knowledge with other international delegations at the Festival. This long-standing YCL-LJC tradition has, at each Festival, made its impact: in the Rebel Youth report-back from the 1989 WFYS in Pyongyang, one Canadian delegate noted that, of the 20,000 delegates to the Festival, the largest, loudest, and most visible centre of Indigenous participation was the Pan-Canadian delegation. Of course, YCL-LJC participation extends far outside the scope of the WFYS: most recently, at WFDY’s 20th Assembly in Cyprus (2019), the YCL-LJC was elected as sole representative from North America on the Federation’s General Council, joining 35 other progressive youth organizations from across the world.

Member organizations of the World Federation of Democratic Youth have been making great strides in the realm of peace and solidarity. Over the past few months, youth in Bangladesh, India, and elsewhere have been securing and distributing food and PPE to those affected by COVID-19, and have even been working in healthcare. Recently, comrades in Lebanon, Turkey, Britain, and elsewhere have been fundraising and participating in on-the-ground relief work following the explosion in Beirut and the earthquake that shook Greece and Turkey. These actions are in addition to the regular schools, local actions, and solidarity efforts undertaken by young comrades worldwide.

The World Federation of Democratic Youth continues to be an essential force in today’s international political landscape. As the forces of imperialism, racism, and capitalism grow stronger, WFDY youth band together to strengthen the call for peace. The YCL-LJC is proud to be a WFDY member, and to work with a diverse, unified, and bellicose group of youth carrying the banner of peace, justice, and solidarity. We, along with the progressive youth of the world, affirm our commitment to anti-imperialism and peace on this 75th anniversary of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, and look forward to a future of further WFDY work, more militant and joyous meetings at the World Festival of Youth and Students, and many more years of fighting for a better future for young people. Youth unite for lasting peace!

To celebrate their 75th anniversary, the World Federation of Democratic Youth hosted an online panel and webinar. It can be watched in full here.

Source: Young Communist League Canada – 75 Years of the World Federation of Democratic Youth: A Legacy of Peace, Anti-Imperialism, and International Friendship

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