Addressing the opening of the High-Level Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes, taking place online, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres called on the international community to ensure that young people are included more in the efforts made to address global challenges.
The UN chief recalled that young people are strongly affected by the crises facing the world, whether it is the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, the rise of conflicts, discrimination, the digital divide or the erosion of civic space and the decline of trust. However, young people are also on the front line to act and find solutions.
The Secretary-General noted that time and time again young people have been at the forefront of efforts to build and sustain peace and that the many member states are taking steps to tap into that potential.
“From ceasefire monitoring to mediation, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict healing, young people are engaging and mobilising wider groups using traditional platforms as well as new technologies”, he pointed out.
However, he felt that opportunities for meaningful participation remain insufficient. “Many young peacebuilders – especially young women – report that their participation is not welcomed by the public or those in positions of power,” noted the UN Secretary General.
António Guterres called on the international community to step up its support for young people. According to him, it is necessary to ensure that young people have a place around the table to forge inclusive solutions that combine peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.
He highlighted that the Peacebuilding Commission has provided young peacebuilders with a platform to present their work and recommendations and that the Peacebuilding Fund includes a youth advocacy initiative to support the youth, peace and security programme.
“Last year, we provided nearly $26 million for projects implemented with civil society partners. But we need to expand that investment – with additional and more accessible resources to support youth-led efforts,” Guterres said.
He expressed concern at reports of threats and human rights violations against young peacebuilders and human rights defenders and considered it necessary to strengthen the protection of human rights, safeguard civic space and ensure an enabling environment for young people to participate meaningfully and safely in peace efforts.
In this regard, the UN will develop a Youth in Politics Index to track the opening up of political space in countries around the world.