The Five Ps of Freedom: My Time as a Youth Delegate at the United Nations

Die Luft der Freiheit weht.

Stanford University's motto rang through my mind as I approached the row of flags on the corner of 46th and First Avenue.

The Wind of Freedom Blows.

As I entered the grandeur of the General Assembly Hall at the UN headquarters, a place that I had spent an obscene amount of time watching on webcasts, the concept of freedom remained etched in my thoughts. The atmosphere was ripe with the anticipation and energy of hundreds of youth delegates and UN officials around the world, and it dawned upon me that each and every one of them had some goal related to spreading liberty, autonomy, and self-determination: the stepping stones of freedom and freewill.

I heard Surinam Ambassador Henry Mac-Donald talk about the HeForShe campaign's success in moving our world towards gender equality, and I signed the petition for a globe free of the shackles of patriarchy.

I was enlightened by eco-hip hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, whose lyrical genius imagined a world free of fossil fuels, built on the foundation of indigenous pedagogy.

I listened to Dr. Zeeshan Usmani discuss the need to free citizens from the fear of suicide bombings, I watched the film "Imba Means Sing" detail the role of education in freeing children from poverty, and I discussed with International Youth Council members potential solutions to freeing impoverished countries from the damage of natural disasters.

Freedom is the foundation of all activism, and as I sat down to talk with British Ambassador Peter Wilson during my time at the UN Youth Assembly, it became clear that this too was at the heart of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Wilson effectively condensed three years of deliberation by UN Ambassadors on SDGs into five Ps -- the Ps that will undoubtedly shape the direction of our generation and humanity itself:

  1. Peace:

"Countries aren't fighting because they are poor, countries are poor because they are fighting."

Ambassador Wilson spoke of the UN's goal to not only free the globe of conflict, but to get at the root cause of such conflicts. Rather than deescalate wars after they occur, effective diplomacy, like that of the Iran deal, must be leveraged to stop unnecessary border and religious battles.

  • Planet
  • "We need a binding international framework on reducing carbon emissions."

    With COP21 in Paris right around the corner, Wilson stressed the urgency of sustainable development. Climate change disproportionately affects minorities and third-world countries, and it is our moral obligation to create a world free of anthropogenic climate change before it is too late.

  • Prosperity
  • "Although more controversial, it is clear that the world must maintain economic growth"

    A world free of problems is not possible without the integration of economic and technological prosperity.

  • Partnerships:
  • "Global governance must maintain relationships with the private sector and NGOs."

    The United Nations was created based on the concept of shared alliances, and as we progress from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, partnerships remain a core ideal in establishing freedom.

  • People
  • "We must, and will, eliminate poverty."

    The biggest SDG, and perhaps the most ambitious, is a world free of poverty and hunger. Every child has the right to an education, every woman has the right to equal pay, and every human has the right to a proper meal.

    The five Ps of the United Nations are ambitious.

    The five Ps of the United Nations may take decades to achieve.

    But as a Stanford student, a global citizen, and a human being, the five Ps represent to me the possibility of total freedom -- a world where every person is no longer bound by the chains of powerlessness.

    I hope I live to see the day when humankind can collectively proclaim as a species Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic words:

    "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last."

    Akshay Ramaswamy is a freshman at Stanford University studying Computer Science and Biology. To contact Akshay, email him at or follow him on Twitter @TheRealAk914.