What's In Blue

Youth, Peace and Security Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (17 July), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a briefing on the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda under the agenda item “maintenance of international peace and security.”

The briefers are Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Wevyn Muganda from Kenya, the program director for HAKI Africa; and Sofia Ramyar from Afghanistan, the Executive Director of “Afghans for Progressive Thinking” (APT). No outcome is planned at this stage.

Wickramanayake may talk about the “International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes” that her office co-organised in March 2019 in Helsinki and which was co-hosted by the governments of Colombia, Finland, and Qatar. She may also report on her experiences travelling to countries with large youth populations such as Jordan. As mentioned in the concept note that Peru has prepared for the meeting (S/2019/539), Wickramanayake may also address the need for protection of young peacebuilders that comes with the increased visibility of their activities. In addition, she might address her office’s cooperation with the “United Network of Young Peacebuilders”, a network of more than 100 youth-led peacebuilding organisations from over 50 countries.

Muganda might speak about her work with HAKI Africa, a Mombasa-based organisation that works on human rights and development issues facing communities in Kenya, especially women and youth, including on countering narratives of violent extremism.

Ramyar is likely to report on the work of her organisation, APT, the largest youth-led organisation in Afghanistan. One of her initiatives is the program that established an Afghan Youth Representative to the UN.

The Council first addressed 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” (S/PV.7432). In December of that year, the Council adopted resolution 2250, which, among other things, urged member states to provide youth with an enabling environment for the implementation of violence-prevention activities and peacebuilding efforts, and mandated an independent progress study on youth, peace and security (S/PV.7573).

The study, in turn, served as the basis for the second resolution on the issue, resolution 2419 (S/PV.8277), adopted unanimously on 6 June 2018. This adoption was also preceded by an open debate (S/PV.8241), convened during the first Peruvian Council presidency in April 2018. Peru and Sweden were the co-penholders for resolution 2419.

Resolution 2419 recognised the role that youth can play in conflict prevention and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of both resolutions 2419 and 2250 no later than May 2020. While resolution 2419, like its 2015 predecessor, was adopted unanimously, negotiations were difficult, with members divided on the usefulness of having youth, peace and security as an area of Council focus. It seemed that mainly China and Russia argued that the matter should be dealt with by other parts of the UN system, saying that it is not directly relevant to the agenda of the Council. At the other end of the spectrum, other members would have preferred even stronger language about the positive role youth can play on peace and security matters.

It appears that Peru intends to hold the briefing tomorrow to take stock of the state of implementation of both resolutions about a year after the adoption of resolution 2419 and before the Secretary-General’s report is due in 2020.

Council members may speak on how they are implementing the agenda on a national and regional level, in light of their own youth populations; how partnerships among key stakeholders can be formed; and challenges they are facing, not least as youth populations can be very diverse. Some members may focus on the challenges and opportunities of hosting young refugee populations. The role of youth in countering violent extremism may be discussed in the meeting as well. Other issues that could be raised in the meeting include: whether the Council has made an effort to invite youth representatives to brief and provide relevant insights during its meetings; whether it has considered youth perspectives during visiting missions; whether the Peacebuilding Commission has included engagement with youth in its efforts; whether the Secretary-General and his Special Envoys have facilitated the inclusion of youth at decision-making levels in conflict prevention and resolution; and whether the Secretary-General has included relevant information on youth, peace and security in his reporting to the Council (as is regularly done in his reports on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia).

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