The UN Security Council has created a body of landmark outcomes to develop the youth, peace and security agenda, including UNSC resolutions 2250, 2419, 2535 and Presidential statement 2019/15. However, the strength and success of an agenda is not measured by the number of resolutions, but by concrete efforts and actions to implement them.
I will focus on three key points to action the youth peace and security agenda and promote intergenerational dialogue to build and sustain peace.
First, strengthening the Space for the Participation of Youth: Institutions, whether local, regional or international, must work harder to mainstream and integrate the participation of youth across their activities. UN Missions should regularly engage with and integrate youth across their peacebuilding initiatives. They can invest in capacity building programmes to develop young people’s skills to participate in decisions and to sensitise local authorities on the importance of engaging youth.
As the EU, we are also working on our part to strengthen institutional mechanisms to amplify the voice of youth. In June 2020, the EU adopted its first Council Conclusions on Youth in External Action, to cement the integration of youth, in particular young women, across our efforts in building lasting peace.
More concretely alongside the African Union, we launched in 2018 the AU-EU Youth-Hub, which is a platform to involve young experts in innovative projects. One of the pilot projects, implemented by Plan International with local partners, focuses on the Lake Chad Basin and involves local youth in mapping and monitoring stabilisation projects via a user-friendly online map-based platform.
We are also currently looking to develop a young mediators’ network in Iraq capable of supporting, local, regional and national conflict resolution and mediation efforts.
Second, partnerships with civil society networks and human rights defenders: We encourage the strengthening of partnerships with youth networks as a tool for social cohesion, including as part of the work of UN Missions. In the context of the EU, we help civil society, educational institutions and policy-makers connect across the Euro-Med region to promote intergenerational dialogue and foster youth leadership through the Young Mediterranean Voices initiative.
We also strongly support the valuable work of young human rights defenders and condemn in the strongest terms any act of reprisal against them. The EU calls for increased efforts to ensure their protection.
The EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism, which has benefited 30,000 Human Rights Defenders since 2015, is open to any young defender who is at risk. We are fully supportive of the efforts of the UN Youth Envoy to develop a dedicated guidance on the protection of young people, including those who engage with the UN. It is an example of best practice within the UN to ensure that we remain focused on protecting those at the frontline of promoting peace.
Third, investing in Youth: We must ensure sustainable investments in promoting youth in all their diversity across efforts to build and sustain peace.
The EU is contributing to the UN Secretary General’s Peacebuilding Fund, and we welcome its increased focus on empowering women and youth with 25% of total funding dedicated to this for the period 2020-2024. We particularly welcome the recently released call for proposals under the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative 2020. The meaningful inclusion of young people is an important aspect of the 2020 comprehensive review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.