What's In Blue

Posted Tue 8 Dec 2020

Arria-Formula Meeting on Youth, Peace and Security

Tomorrow (9 December) an Arria-formula meeting will be held via videoconference on “Youth, Peace and Security: Capitalising on intergenerational dialogue to build and sustain peace and enhance social cohesion at community levels”. It is being organised by South Africa in cooperation with the Dominican Republic, France, Ireland, Kenya, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tunisia. The expected briefers are Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s youth envoy; Aya Chebbi, the African Union (AU) Special Envoy on Youth; Ahmed Yasin, peace activist and youth mobiliser at “Palestinian Vision”; and Karabo Mokgonyana, Southern Africa Youth Ambassador for Peace.  The meeting will be live streamed on YouTube at 2 pm EST.

Tomorrow’s meeting will mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption on 9 December 2015 of resolution 2250, which was the first thematic resolution on youth, peace and security.  Spearheaded by Jordan, it recognised the contribution of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. According to the concept note prepared by the co-organisers, the meeting will serve as a platform to take stock of the implementation of the resolution and share lessons learned and best practices. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for member states to recommit to enhancing the implementation of resolutions 2250, 2419 and 2535. Resolution 2419 of 6 June 2018 requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419 no later than May 2020. Co-authored by the Dominican Republic and France, resolution 2535 of 14 July 2020 included operational provisions aimed at promoting and institutionalising the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda by the Security Council, UN entities and member states.

Since the adoption of resolution 2250, there has been progress in increasing the participation of young people in peace and security processes across the world, including in countries such as Colombia and the Philippines. However, in his 2 March 2020 report on youth, peace and security, the Secretary-General stressed that significant gaps remain, including in the participation and representation of young people in negotiations and decision-making during peace processes. The concept note asserts that to facilitate the meaningful participation of youth in peace processes, young people need to be represented in significant numbers and their views should be considered during decision-making processes at the local, regional and international levels.

Tomorrow’s meeting will focus on ways to enhance the youth, peace and security agenda and the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions through promoting intergenerational dialogues and increasing cooperation among member states, the UN, regional organisations and civil society. The concept note states that youth can play a positive role in peacebuilding and make recommendations on effective responses to issues relating to peace at local, national, regional and international levels.

Intergenerational dialogues have taken place in several countries, including an intergenerational retreat on “Women Leadership in Africa: Building the Africa We Want Together” that took place between 16 and 18 August in Nairobi. The objective of that meeting was to promote strong female leadership across generations to advance the fulfilment of commitments made for Africa’s transformation. In addition, the Secretary-General’s 2 March report notes that UN peace missions in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Iraq, and Liberia had promoted initiatives that fostered intergenerational dialogue between young people and political actors. The report emphasises, however, that it is not sufficient to only listen to young people but that it is necessary to provide them with scope to “design and implement holistic policies and programmes that address their specific needs, uphold their rights and acknowledge their diversity and the challenges that they face”. To that end, the Secretary-General argues that youth participation should be mainstreamed into all institutions, especially in conflict settings.

South Africa has sought to highlight in its 2019-2020 Council term the role that youth can play in promoting regional peacebuilding initiatives, including through convening a debate entitled “Mobilising the Youth towards Silencing the Guns by 2020” during its October 2019 presidency. “Silencing the Guns” aims at ending all conflict in Africa by 2020 and is the flagship project of the AU’s Agenda 2063, which is a 50-year strategic framework for the sustainable and inclusive development of Africa. Following the October 2019 debate, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on 12 December 2019 that calls on member states to undertake measures to promote the mobilisation of young people towards “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020”, including through facilitating the participation of youth, and especially young women, in peace processes and at all decision-making levels. Resolution 2553 of 3 December 2020 on Security Sector Reform (SSR) that was spearheaded by South Africa calls for inclusivity in SSR processes and recognises the role that youth should play in contributing to conflict prevention, peacebuilding and recovery.

The concept note invites members to consider the following questions:

  • How can space be created for reflection, listening and exchange of ideas among young people, decision-makers and other policymakers? And how to reduce the gaps between generations?
  • What more can be done to promote youth participation and mainstream the youth, peace and security agenda in domestic legislations?
  • What are member states’ political and financial commitments to support the effective implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda?
  • What is the role of civil society organisations and young peacebuilders in building intergenerational partnerships to contextualise and operationalise the youth, peace, and security agenda?

At tomorrow’s meeting, Wickramanayake is likely to focus on the need to enhance the participation of youth in peace processes. Chebbi may elaborate on the AU’s initiatives to promote youth participation in peacebuilding efforts; these include the development of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and the appointment of five regional African Youth Ambassadors for Peace to promote the participation of young people in peace endeavours across the continent. She had previously addressed the Council during the 2 October 2019 debate on “Silencing the Guns in Africa”, where she briefed on the contribution of African youth to silencing the guns on the continent and emphasised the importance of framing the narrative around African youth as agents of change who contribute to their society instead of as potential perpetrators of violence.

Yasin and Mokgonyana may share their experiences from working to promote youth participation within their communities to address gaps in the implementation of the youth, peace and security at the local level. Mokgonyana might discuss her involvement in programs aimed at empowering adolescent girls and young women. Yasin may elaborate on his work with local and international organisations to build and implement youth projects to change policies related to unemployment, poverty, and youth political participation.

Member states may discuss their efforts to promote the youth, peace and security agenda in their national capacity, as well as through their involvement in regional organisations and their role as troop-contributing countries to peacekeeping missions. African members of the Council may comment on the importance of implementing the agenda in their region, as Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with approximately 60 percent of its population aged under 25. Members might emphasise the importance of promoting the role of young women in peacebuilding, including through their increased participation in peacekeeping missions. They may also discuss the benefits of conducting intergenerational dialogues and discuss ways to support youth involvement in peacebuilding efforts, including through capacity building and provision of financial support for such initiatives.