Swedish Statement at the Security Council Open Debate on Youth, Peace and Security
National statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Youth, Peace and Security, 23 April 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr President,
And let me thank Peru for convening today's open debate on youth, peace and security, which provides a valuable opportunity to recognise the important role that youth can play in building peace and in preventing conflicts. I would also like to thank the Special Envoy on Youth, Ms. Wickramanayake, and Mr Simpson, for their passionate and inspiring briefings. And I would like to add a special welcome and thanks to Sophia Pierre-Antoine and Kessy Ekomo-Soignet, two young women who have ably shown us this morning that youth are a force to be reckoned with so thank you so much for that.
Let me begin by sharing some additional inspiration with a quote from Nelson Mandela, the centenary of whose birth we celebrate this year.
"To the youth of today, I also have a wish to make: be the scriptwriters of your destiny and feature yourselves as stars that showed the way towards a brighter future."
I think that, after hearing from our briefers this morning, we can be confident that today's youth are responding to Mandela's call. Our role is to listen to them, include them as well as to support and enable them in any way we can. We have a long tradition of youth engagement in Sweden and we welcome the independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security - "The missing piece". We are heartened by the renewed international and multilateral focus on youth. The concrete recommendations in the study represent important steps for moving this agenda forward.
Through the adoption of the Sustaining Peace agenda as well as of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, we have created an ambitious and absolutely necessary plan for of the world we live in – a vision of a peaceful and sustainable world. Youth, peace and security constitutes a crucial part of implementing this broad framework and in the advancement of peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
So, it is high time that we broke the destructive narrative of young people as drivers of conflict, or as victims. Instead we must harness their full potential and leadership as effective peacebuilders in all aspects of sustaining peace. We need to build on young peoples' knowledge, strengths and enthusiasm to contribute to peace and a better future, and enable their meaningful civic and political participation. The World Programme of Action for Youth underlines that youth can be dynamic agents of peace and can help guide national action and international support.
A prerequisite for youth engagement is the political, social, cultural and economic empowerment of youth and the protection and fulfillment of their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. Ensuring the political and social rights of young people promotes trust in the system at an early age, laying the foundation for a strong and longstanding social contract.
The Progress Study presented today by Mr Simpson demonstrates how young peoples' leadership is crucial in promoting peace, inclusion and dialogue. Ensuring full and effective participation of youth is therefore essential for the advancement of national peacebuilding processes.
I would like to highlight the following four points on how we can best move this agenda forward:
Firstly, we must all engage and invest in youth. This means enhancing levels and quality of dialogue with youth.
Increased financing for youth, peace and security is needed, including through more aid in fragile settings, in conflict and post-conflict situations, and for youth participation and empowerment. The Peacebuilding Commission can play an important role by including ways to engage youth meaningfully during and in the aftermath of armed conflict in its advice and recommendations for peacebuilding strategies.
Secondly, youth should be heard and seen. We need to recognize the diversity of "youth" in our analysis and engagement, ensuring that we systematically disaggregate data by age, gender, socioeconomic background and geographical location.
Thirdly, leave no youth behind. It is important to recognize that exclusion and discrimination of youth based on age, gender, disability, socioeconomic circumstances, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity has a detrimental effect on peace and security.
We need to recognize the specific challenges faced by young women and men, acknowledging that persistent gender inequalities put young women at particular risk. As highlighted by the study, we need to ensure the protection of educational institutions, ensuring that they are free from violence and accessible for all.
Fourth, we must keep pushing to ensure this issue remains on our agenda. We welcome continuous reporting to the Council from the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.
The old saying goes: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Well, Mr President, this generation of youth is not content to wait. Our children are coming for their inheritance. They are demanding that they play their part in shaping the world they will inherit from us. They are demanding, as Mandela called upon them to do, that they be the scriptwriters of their own destiny. Our job is to ensure they can.