Youth, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
As Security Council President in April, the Dominican Republic is planning to convene an open debate on the issue of youth, peace and security under the agenda item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security”. Secretary-General António Guterres may brief the Council. Other briefers may include civil society representatives from youth-led organisations. At the time of writing, it was unclear whether the debate would be held as planned because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A resolution is a possible outcome of the event. It is not expected, however, to be adopted during the debate but at a later date to allow for the discussion to inform the drafting.
Background and Key Recent Developments
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 in turn served as the basis for resolution 2419, the second resolution on the issue, adopted unanimously on 6 June 2018. This adoption was also preceded by an open debate, convened during the Peruvian Council presidency in April 2018. During Peru’s subsequent July 2019 presidency, the Council heard a briefing on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419 from Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and representatives from youth-led organisations in Afghanistan and Kenya. On 12 December 2019, the Council adopted a presidential statement drafted by South Africa focused on mobilising youth around the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative—a flagship project of the AU’s Agenda 2063, which aims at ending all conflict in Africa by 2020.
On 2 March 2020, the Secretary-General issued his report addressing the issue of youth, peace and security. The report was mandated by resolution 2419, which recognised the role youth can play in conflict prevention and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419 no later than May 2020. The report covered the period between December 2015 and December 2019 and addressed progress on the five pillars outlined by resolution 2250: participation of young people in peace processes, humanitarian contexts, and in national governance and political processes such as voting and running for office; protection of young people, in particular vulnerable groups such as refugees, and often-targeted groups such as young peacebuilders and human rights defenders; prevention of violence by addressing underlying drivers of conflict through the provision of education and the economic inclusion of young people; fostering partnerships between youth-led organisations and member states, UN entities, and civil society; and inclusion of the needs of young people in planning for disengagement and reintegration in conflict and post-conflict environments.
The findings of the Secretary-General’s report outlined progress in implementing the agenda in terms of the growing recognition on the part of governments, UN entities and civil society of the important role youth play in peace and security. The report stressed, however, that many challenges remain to achieving progress on the five pillars, such as structural barriers limiting the ability of youth to participate in decision-making and violations of their human rights. The Secretary-General referred to the report as a call to action while saying that “to create a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world for all, young people need to be involved and conditions that enable them to unleash their full potential must be created”.
In his overview of the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda on the national level, the Secretary-General referenced positive examples of youth participation in peace processes in such countries as Colombia and the Philippines. He further emphasised the contribution youths have in such political processes by voicing their stand in less formal channels, such as organisation of peaceful demonstrations and online media campaigns.
The Secretary-General expressed grave concern, however, about the threats made against young peacebuilders and human rights defenders working in conflict areas, noting the heightened dangers posed to women activists. He therefore stressed the responsibility of member states to ensure that these groups are protected and that perpetrators of violence against them are brought to justice. He said that to ensure coordinated action at a national level, governments need to incorporate youth, peace and security elements into broader policy frameworks, noting in particular the role that national parliaments can play by such means as adoption of relevant legislation and the commissioning of national road maps for youth, peace and security.
The report also noted the increasing engagement of the Security Council on the youth, peace and security agenda since the adoption of resolution 2250. The Council had interactions with young people in nearly half of its visiting missions undertaken during the period covered by the report and increasingly sought to hear briefings from youth representatives in country-specific debates, such as on Syria and Afghanistan. Furthermore, reports of the Secretary General to the Council about issues on its agenda have increasingly referenced youth-specific issues.
Key Issues and Options
The debate on youth, peace and security can serve as an opportunity for Council members and the wider UN membership to take stock of progress made in the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419 and share best practices and lessons learned at the national and regional level. It can also serve as a platform to discuss the Secretary-General’s report on youth, peace and security and its recommendations and to devise priorities for action.
Council members may want to discuss the Secretary-General’s recommendation that young people be encouraged to participate in peace and security efforts, including within mission mandates. Currently, only approximately 24 percent of mission mandate renewal resolutions include provisions on youth. Members might therefore want to consider if and how they would want to modify future mandate renewal resolutions to include such provisions. Council members may also consider ways to ensure the protection of young peace builders and human rights defenders and increase accountability for perpetrators of violence against these groups.
The Council may adopt a resolution on the issue, subsequent to and informed by the open debate. Such a resolution may include a request to the Secretary-General regarding future reporting on the youth, peace and security agenda. The Dominican Republic could also choose to produce a chair’s summary that would reflect the themes of the open debate.
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 while maintaining that it is not directly relevant to the Council’s agenda. Some members might therefore not see a need for further reporting by the Secretary-General to the Council on this matter. It appears, however, that other members support having Council engagement on this issue and would have preferred even stronger language in resolution 2419 about the positive role youth can play on peace and security matters.
UN DOCUMENTS ON YOUTH, PEACE AND SECURITY
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|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 Presidential Statements|
|12 December 2019S/PRST/2019/15||This was a presidential statement on the role African youth can play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and as a key aspect of the sustainability, inclusiveness and success of peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts on the continent.|
|2 March 2020S/2020/167||This was the first Secretary-General’s report on the issue of youth, peace and security.|