Youth, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In October, the Security Council is expected to hold an open debate under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa: Mobilising the Youth towards Silencing the Guns by 2020”.
Key Recent Developments
During its October presidency, South Africa aims to emphasise the flagship project— “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020”—of the AU’s Agenda 2063, a 50-year vision and action plan to build a united Africa. This initiative was the topic of an open debate organised by Equatorial Guinea on 27 February when the Council adopted resolution 2457, which outlined steps leading to the goal of ending conflicts in Africa through “enhanced international cooperation and partnership, as well as robust support for peace operations led by the AU”. With nearly 20 percent of the African continent’s population aged between 15 and 24, the AU has recognised that youth must be at the core of its initiatives to silence the guns in Africa.
Peru held a briefing during its July presidency to take stock of the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419, which are the foundation of the youth, peace and security agenda. During the debate, Council members agreed on the importance of youth having a more significant presence in peace and security matters, with many emphasising the need to address root causes of conflict, combat violent extremism and terrorism, provide better education, promote the rights of women and girls, and address the challenges of climate change.
The Council first addressed the issue of youth, peace and security at the initiative of Jordan during the country’s April 2015 presidency when it organised an open debate on the “role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace”. On 9 December 2015, the Council adopted resolution 2250, which mandated a progress study on youth, peace and security. The study was discussed during an open debate, convened by Peru in April 2018, and served as a basis for the second resolution on youth, peace and security, adopted in June 2018 as resolution 2419. It recognised the role youth can play in conflict prevention and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of both resolutions no later than May 2020. While the resolution, like its 2015 predecessor, was adopted unanimously, negotiations appeared to have been difficult, with members divided on the usefulness of the Council’s addressing youth, peace and security.
Key Issues and Options
Many significant challenges remain with the approach of the December 2020 deadline for the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative. According to Ramtane Lamamra, the AU’s high representative for the “Silencing the Guns” campaign, there is concern “over the challenging security situation in parts of Africa” as well as threats posed by terrorism; maritime piracy; tensions between farmers and herders; transnational organised crime; and persistent violence perpetrated by insurgents, rebels, and armed groups. Peace agreements in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, elections in Madagascar and Congo, and the renewal of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have resulted in notable progress, but there are a number of African countries still “trapped in a vicious cycle of violent conflict”, according to Lamamra.
A key issue is for the Council’s focus on youth and violent extremism not to overshadow the positive contribution of youth in situations of armed conflict. It might be useful to have a civil society youth leader brief the Council on the role he or she has played in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, particularly given that resolution 2419 expressed the Council’s intention to invite youth representatives to brief during meetings.
An option for briefers and Council members may be to discuss opportunities for the inclusion of young people in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. Issues that could be addressed include the involvement of young people in peace and security activities; initiatives of regional and sub-regional organisations in implementing the youth, peace and security agenda; and opportunities to listen to leaders and youth experts on their expectations from the Council in advancing this agenda. Ahead of the elaboration of the Secretary-General’s 2020 report on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419, members could speak about ways they implement the agenda, as well as what partnerships could be formed with the young peacebuilders.
The Council could also designate a penholder to take the lead on youth, peace and security, who would advocate for the inclusion and implementation of activities related to youth, peace and security in Council mandates. It could also call on the Secretary-General to report annually on the implementation of resolution 2250.
An outcome or a presidential summary emphasising points from the open debate may be an option.
The Council has welcomed the AU’s perseverance to rid the continent of conflict through its “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020” initiative and expressed its readiness to contribute to that goal during the adoption of resolution 2457. Nevertheless, Council members have differing views on youth, peace and security as an area of Council focus. During the negotiations on resolution 2419, it seemed that mainly China and Russia argued that the matter should be dealt with by other parts of the UN system as it is not directly relevant to the Council’s agenda. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it seemed that other members would have preferred even stronger language about the positive role youth can play on peace and security matters.
During the July debate, the Russian Federation’s representative agreed that the UN must pay greater attention to youth but underscored that the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and their subsidiary bodies are better placed to address the subject. He warned that some external players also use radicalised youth to overthrow legitimate governments and wondered whether discussing this topic in the Security Council for the third time was helpful.
UN DOCUMENTS ON YOUTH, PEACE AND SECURITY
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 February 2019S/RES/2457||This was a resolution adopted during a meeting on “Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”.|
|6 June 2018S/RES/2419||This was a resolution, unanimously adopted, reaffirming the important role that youth and youth-led civil society can play in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|9 December 2015S/RES/2250||This was a resolution on youth, peace and security which recognises the contribution of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and warns against the rise of radicalisation to violence and violent extremism amongst youth.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|17 July 2019S/PV.8577||The Council held a briefing on the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda under the agenda item “maintenance of international peace and security”.|
|6 June 2018S/PV.8277||This was the meeting at which the Council adopted resolution 2419, reaffirming the important role that youth and youth-led civil society can play in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|23 April 2018S/PV.8241||This was an open debate on youth, peace and security.|
|9 December 2015S/PV.7573||This was the adoption of resolution 2250.|
|23 April 2015S/PV.7432||This was a high-level open debate on “the role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace,” chaired by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdulla II of Jordan.|
|2 March 2018S/2018/86||This was the progress study on youth, peace and security.|