United Nations Security Council
New York, 23 April 2018
Open debate on Youth, Peace and Security
Address by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
I would like to thank the Peruvian Presidency of the Security Council for calling this open debate on Youth, Peace and Security. I thank the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanyake and Mr. Graeme Simpson, lead author of the independent Progress Study on youth, peace and security, for their statements. The progress study is very informative, and Mr. Simpson and his team have clearly consulted widely.
Shining out from this study is the fact that most young people hold a responsible and sophisticated world view. The 1.8 billion young people in our world are better connected than ever before. They know what is going on locally, regionally and globally in a way their parents and grandparents never did.
This means they can compare what is happening in the various parts of the world – they see where government and democracy is working but they also see how deprivation, human rights abuses and inequality undermine peace and prosperity.
Young people know that for societies to be peaceful and secure they will need more than just an absence of violence. They want to safeguard the planet and they are aware of climate change as a potential cause of conflict for future generations.
Nevertheless, the Study reveals that governments tend to treat young people as a problem rather than partners for peace. Yet, most young people are peaceful. They want to take action and lead, but often feel excluded from the political process. Education has a powerful role in peacebuilding and sustaining peace, but getting it right is complex. Media gives a misleading view of young people, in particular young men, and certain political forces seek to manipulate them for political ends.
Societies that allow young people to participate in public life are less likely to see violence. For example, the brutal repression of young demonstrators and political activists by the Syrian authorities contributed to igniting the seven-year long conflict. These and other elements in the Study should concern us deeply.
The study makes useful recommendations which the UN and the Security Council could consider more closely. We would support recommendations which keep youth, peace and security on the agenda. When the Security Council is designing peacekeeping operations, impact on youth should be considered. Inclusive processes for peace and security have been shown to give greater results. Hence, the participation of young people in efforts to prevent conflict is not only right, it is essential for success.
The Security Council and the General Assembly must work together to make the youth, peace and security agenda operational. I welcome the expected Security Council Resolution on youth, peace and security and the decision by the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák to host a Youth Dialogue on May 30 this year.