Closing remarks of the Roundtable "From debate education towards youth engagement" by Antonio Sáez Marín

Everyone is born different.

Be it through differences in our wealth, our environment, our physique, the side of the border we were born in… We do not choose any of those circumstances, but this lottery is an inevitable truth about the human condition.

And, as such a fact, it has shaped humanity. And humanity has reacted to this truth. Societies and communities appeared, so we could help each other with what we could not accomplish by ourselves. Democracy was created, so everyone’s voice could be heard, no matter what their situation was. And the European Union was built, based on principles of solidarity, of giving everyone equal opportunities. An international community grounded on a strong belief of equality among human beings.

However, new narratives are rising as of today. Political and social discourses which are focusing on the differences between us, taking pride on them, and even attempting to bring them back – be it in the form of social discrimination towards specific groups, taking away chances from those of us who were not born wealthy, or by turning our borders into actual walls.

Fighting these narratives is a major challenge of the 21st century. Certainly, not the only one, but one which is connected to all others.

This is where IDEA, the International Debate Education Association, comes in. It builds on a principle of solidarity, offers opportunities to those who do not have as many by giving them a voice. It fights for equality and against these new discourses.

And it does so in a very unique way, by focusing on the one thing that makes us equal, the one characteristic which makes us all human: communication. We are gregarious animals, as Aristotle affirmed: we need each other to prosper, and communication is the one chance everyone has to become empowered.

We know the many benefits of debating, the skills it can teach us: argumentation, research, critical thinking… And also listening: being able to understand each other’s views, to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, and discuss matters as equals.

A society which debates has no differences: it has diversity. And diversity makes us richer as a community.

Through debate, we work towards achieving a more equal society. This is why I am very proud of my debate organization being a member of IDEA.


Antonio Sáez Marín is a representative of Commun Global, a Spanish ngo and member of IDEA. 

On behalf of the IDEA's member, he provided the closing remarks for the Roundtable "From debate education towards youth engagement" , held on 11 November 2019 in the European Parliament.