The World Youth Leadership Network (WYLN) was established in 2004 in New York City by Shinichiro Okuyama (Japan), and Sasha Toperich (USA), in support of the United Nations’ “International Decade of Culture of Peace”, with a mission to bring youth leaders together to engage in philanthropic, educational, entrepreneurial, and cultural activities around the world.
Since its early days, WYLN created IT centers across the African continent, provided medical aid to the Middle East and Africa, and organized peace concerts (between Tibetans and the Chinese, and between Israelis and Palestinians) and cultural events celebrating diversity in the U.S., India, and Japan featuring prominent artists.
This program includes comprehensive activities to support a democratic processes, strengthen civil society, stronger trade, business and security cooperation in the countries of the larger Mediterranean Basin. In this partnership, WYLN launched similar programs for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Turkey, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
WYLN’s mission was influenced by Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in WWII who saved over 6000 Jews from the Holocaust through issuing “Visas for Life” against the will of his superiors in Tokyo. Such an initiative, under the most difficult circumstances, while risking his own life and the lives of his wife and young daughter, is an example of unprecedented virtue that is an inspiration to us.
WYLN cooperated with the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., the America – Bosnia Foundation (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mediterranean Development Initiative (MDI, Tunisia), Soran University (Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq) as strategic partners, in support of the “Mediterranean Basin Initiative,” and has partnered with the Transatlantic Leadership Network (TLN) in Washington, D.C.