07/17/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/17/2019 14:43
Note: A complete summary of today's Security Council meeting will be made available after its conclusion.
JAYATHMA WICKRAMANAYAKE, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, said that, in an increasingly globalized world, Member States must keep going back to Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on youth, peace and security to ensure that youth perspectives are not distorted by contagious stereotypes that associate young people with violence. With 408 million of the world's 1.8 billion young people living in contexts affected by armed conflict, 'we need to engage young people not only as beneficiaries, but as equal partners in all our efforts, especially our efforts to prevent conflict and build peace', she said. Since the release of 'The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security' in September 2018, the youth, peace and security agenda has entered a new phase, with the focus shifting towards implementation at multiple levels amidst expanding stakeholder support, she added, noting that young people are reclaiming the narrative on youth, peace and security.
She went on to state that, instead of waiting to be invited to decision‑making forums, they are coming forward with alternative and innovative solutions. In recent months, however, young peacebuilders and human rights defenders have been subjected to threats, intimidation, violence, arbitrary arrest and retaliation, she said, calling upon Governments to uphold the fundamental rights of young people, including the right to free expression online and offline. With the 2018 adoption of Youth 2030, the United Nations youth strategy, the youth, peace and security agenda has been institutionalized within the Organization, setting a new path for supporting young people and creating an enabling environment for their contributions to peace and security, she said, adding that an action plan to support its implementation is under development amid a surge in programming and funding, including $37 million allocated by the Peacebuilding Fund since 2016 to support the inclusion and participation of young people.
However, the United Nations still falls short of meeting the needs of youth groups and networks on the ground that often run on minimal resources, she noted, encouraging special political missions and peacekeeping operations involved in youth, peace and security initiatives to appoint youth focal points to implement the youth, peace and security agenda within their respective mandates. Announcing the launch of a policy paper titled 'We are here: An integrated approach to youth‑inclusive peace processes', she said it highlights the roles that young people can play in peace processes from their own points of view. However, successful implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda requires greater political will and ownership on the part of Member States, as well as programme funding and institutional support for capacity-building, she emphasized. 'Our effort to build and sustain peace needs to be democratized to include the communities most affected,' she added, pointing out that young people provide the best chance for achieving that.
WEVYN MUGANDA, Programme Director for HAKI Africa in Kenya, described young people as agents of change, saying that, if fully implemented, Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on youth, peace and security have the power to transform the lives of young people and societies. HAKI Africa has engaged thousands of young people in human rights and peacebuilding efforts through human rights education, youth-led social activities with justice actors, youth reintegration into communities and support for the formulation and implementation of legislative and policy frameworks.
She went on to describe her Sundays spent with young people in informal 'chill spots', known in Mombasa as maskani, where young people gather during their free time. The police have been accused of entering these spaces to harass and illegally arrest them, she said, noting, however, that it is within these spaces that HAKI Africa identified the most powerful influencers and activists. 'I love the Internet,' she said, explaining that she publishes youth-friendly articles through her blog, 'Beyond the Lines'. To date, the blog has reached more than 110,000 young people and helped to build an online community of peacebuilders and active citizens, she said, adding that she also launched an initiative to film conversations happening in 'maskani' to amplify the voices of excluded young people.
Member States, she continued, can take three key steps: enhance the participation of young people in decision-making processes at all levels; protect the human rights of all individuals, with a particular focus on youth; and ensure greater accountability and more regular reporting in the Security Council on how well it is doing with and on youth. 'UN Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) has secured me and my young peers a seat in the car,' she said, emphasizing the need for young people to be in the driver's or co-driver's seat in order to reach the desired destination.
SOFIA RAMYAR, Executive Director, Afghans for Progressive Thinking, recalled the tragic moment when a helicopter bombed her family's home in Kabul in 1995, their escape to Pakistan, and living in refugee camps without papers. That experience prompted her to return to Kabul, attend school and work for peaceful coexistence in Afghanistan, with basic human rights for all, she said. Pointing out that young people form the majority of Afghanistan's population, she said they are strategically placed to push for structural changes, especially now that the country is closer than ever to a peace agreement. 'I want to assure you that the youth, peace and security agenda is preparing a generation of young women and men in Afghanistan that will lead our country towards peace, development and prosperity,' she added. Afghans for Progressive Thinking has conducted many debates and dialogues in support of the youth, peace and security agenda while also working with the Government on a practical action plan, she said.
Nonetheless, hierarchical relationships between men and women, and between elders and youth, throughout Afghan society still dominate, she said, emphasizing: 'This needs to change.' She recommended that the United Nations take a long-term approach and design policies that make youth an integral part of decision-making processes. The inclusion of young people in the Government of Afghanistan has been encouraging, but it is not sustainable, she said, adding that youth must also be allowed to play a key role at all stages of Afghanistan's peace process. As the largest segment of Afghan society, they have the highest stake in that process, she pointed out, underlining that they must be seen as equal partners, not project implementers or grantees. The Office of the Special Envoy on Youth, for its part, is uniquely positioned to encourage the development of national action plans for resolution 2250 (2015) and to evaluate the effectiveness of their implementation, she said, adding that well-established local youth organizations would be ideal partners in such an effort.