Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads 2021

Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads


The annual Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads International Photo Contest offers an exciting opportunity for young people from all over the world to capture their understanding of the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the lens of their camera. As the visual arts, and in particular photography, are so often used by today’s youth as a powerful tool for communication and self-expression, images have the potential to play a significant role in raising awareness of the key issues facing our contemporary globalizing world. This year in particular, at a time where many educational and cultural institutions have been temporarily closed, the photo contest provides an opportunity for young people to connect with one another in a digital space and share their creativity and vision for our post-pandemic world. Many hubs of social activity and human interaction, including schools, have been adversely affected by Covid-19, in light of these disruptions UNESCO is endeavouring to support remote learning, educational access, and youth engagement with culture, through its many initiatives.

Organized within the framework of the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme, and in line with the objectives of UNESCO Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, the UNESCO Youth Programme, by UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector, the 2021 edition of the Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads photo contest is open for entries from 24 May 2021 to 24 August 2021.

The Silk Roads are an expansive region composed of a network of maritime and land routes. Originating in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia the Silk Roads cross the Central Asian sub-continent, the Russian steppe, the Iranian and Anatolian plateaus, and the Arabian Peninsula. They also stretch through North Africa and Northeast Africa, from Tanzania to Morocco. Additionally, they pass through Eastern and Southern Europe, before reaching France and Spain. Please see the map here

The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest is an opportunity for young people who live or have travelled within these regions to share their perceptions and further their understanding of the common cultural heritage and pluralistic identities emerging from the interactions and exchanges taking place along the Silk Roads. The contest encourages the use of photography to extend these cultural interactions and encounters in the contemporary world, to foster mutual understanding and promote peace amongst the diverse populations encompassed by the Silk Roads.

The contest is divided into two age categories: 14-17 year olds, and 18-25 year olds. For the 3rd edition of the contest this year participants are invited to submit their photographs that best encapsulate the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the two parallel themes of ‘Textiles and Clothing’, and ‘Intercultural Exchanges in the Time of Covid-19, including in the field of Textiles and Clothing’. The Selection Committee members will then examine these submissions and select the winners from each of the age categories. Examples of some of the very best photographs from the 2018 and 2019 contests can be found here.

The contest will culminate with an award ceremony, with three winners selected from each age category. First place winners will receive a professional camera. Second place winners will receive a semi-professional camera, and the prize for third place will be a standard-model digital camera. Subject to Covid-19 restrictions, winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the award ceremony, with those under 17 years of age accompanied by one family member, courtesy of UNESCO.

A travelling exhibition of around fifty photos that best represent the spirit of the contest will be exhibited in various places around the world, again, depending on sanitation restrictions. To further commemorate the occasion, these exceptional photographs will ultimately appear in a professional photo album.


1st Award: A professional digital single-lens reflex camera equipped with 18-55mm lens

2nd Award: Semi-professional digital camera

3rd Award: Digital camera


14 to 25 years old

Copyrights & Usage Rights:

Intellectual property rights:

Each participant in the photography contest certifies that he or she is the sole copyright-holder of all submitted photographs and they are original to him/her.

The participant has full power to authorize the use of the photographs.

Each participant in the photography contest certifies that all submitted photographs do not violate or infringe on any existing copyright or any other third party rights and contain nothing otherwise unlawful.

By submitting a photo to the Organizer, the entrant in the photo contest authorizes its release (as well as the photographers full name, pseudonym, city and country of residence), in the framework of the photo contest and its promotion, on the website of the Organizer and those of its partners, as well as social networks (including Facebook and Twitter), on digital communication or media (newspapers, postcards, catalogs, books, posters, exhibitions, videos), without any form of compensation. Any other use of the photographs will be reported to the author, who is free to give or refuse consent for their use. The photos will not be used for commercial purposes (sales to third parties) by the Organizer unless authorized by the author.

The Organizer agrees to state the name of the photo contest winners in all publications.

The participant agrees to indemnify UNESCO and holds it harmless against any third party claims for loss, injury, damage (including any legal costs and/or other expenses properly incurred), prejudice, liability or expense suffered as a result of or in any manner in connection with the entry, any other of the acts or omissions or any information provided, including but not limited to, claims for violation of copyrights.

The participant recognizes UNESCO as a specialized agency of the United Nations enjoys the 1947 Convention on the Privileges and immunities of the Specialized Agencies.

The participant grants the Organizer the right to use his or her name, photograph, image or likeness in the context of any recording, any presentation, speech or other form of publicity in connection with the photography competition.

The following credit shall be given: © NAME OF PHOTOGRAPHER/UNESCO.

The participant agrees that if an amicable settlement of any dispute relating to the contest cannot be reached, it shall be referred to arbitration in accordance with the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Arbitration Rules.


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