Arria-formula Meeting on Youth, Peace and Security
Today (12 December) at 1:15 pm EST, there will be an Arria-formula meeting on youth, peace and security. The meeting, which is being convened by Ireland together with Ghana and incoming Council member Ecuador, will take place in the ECOSOC chamber. The event is open to representatives of all UN member states and non-governmental organisations with UN accreditation and will be broadcast on UNTV. The expected briefers are UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Natalia Kanem and a youth peacebuilder.
Today’s meeting will mark the seventh 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 to the prevention and resolution of conflicts and requested the Secretary-General to conduct a progress study in this regard. The study, which was published on 2 March 2018, encouraged member states to invest in developing young people’s capacities and leadership, and break down the structural barriers limiting youth participation in efforts to promote peace and security.
According to the concept note prepared by the co-organisers, the meeting will serve as a platform to take stock of the implementation of resolutions 2250, 2419 and 2535, and share lessons learned and best practices on how to advance the youth, peace and security agenda. Resolution 2419 of 6 June 2018 urged stakeholders to take young people’s views into account and facilitate their equal and full participation in peace and decision‑making processes at all levels. It also requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419 no later than May 2020. This report was published on 2 March 2020. Co-authored by former Council member 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. Among other things, the resolution introduced regular reporting on youth, peace and security, requesting the Secretary-General to submit a biennial report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolutions 2250, 2419 and 2535.
Today’s meeting will also provide an opportunity for the Council to reflect on the findings and recommendations of the Secretary-General’s 16 March report on youth, peace and security, which was submitted pursuant to resolution 2535. The report says that young people have continued to drive peace despite facing unprecedented challenges in recent years owing to multiple and compounding crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and armed conflict. It asserts that shrinking civic spaces coupled with the impact of armed conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to acute protection challenges for young people throughout the world, particularly young women. Recognising that the institutionalisation of the youth, peace and security agenda has accelerated since the Secretary-General’s 2 March 2020 report, the latest report emphasises that “profound challenges persist that concern meaningful participation of young people in decision-making and financing for peacebuilding” that is led by and is inclusive of young people. The report also highlights that while the Security Council has increasingly referenced young people in its products—33 percent of its resolutions between January 2020 and December 2021 included such references, a ten percent increase from the period between 2016 and 2019—a more systematic focus on young people in Council resolutions is required.
The concept note invites members to consider the following questions at today’s meeting:
- How can the Security Council further advance the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda and ensure the meaningful participation of youth in conflict and post-conflict situations, including in UN peacekeeping transitions?
- How can the Security Council and UN missions and entities, including peacekeeping and special political missions, work together to ensure that the youth, peace and security agenda is mainstreamed and that youth voices are a key pillar of all peace and security matters?
- What concrete efforts can the Security Council take to advance the institutionalisation and implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda, including in conflict, post-conflict and transition settings?
At today’s meeting, Kanem is likely to emphasise the need to empower the world’s youth to act as effective drivers of change. She may highlight UNFPA programmes that promote young people’s leadership in humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding action. Kanem may also focus on issues related to gender equality and bodily autonomy. In this context, she might reference the high-level panel discussion titled “claiming bodily autonomy to achieve sexual and reproductive health and rights” that UNFPA hosted on 23 September. Kanem is also likely to note the importance of addressing gender-based violence and urge member states to support youth and women-led organisations in this regard.
Council members 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 70 percent of its population aged under 30. 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 ways to support youth involvement in peacebuilding efforts, including through capacity-building and provision of financial support for such initiatives.
Some members may urge the Security Council to discuss this thematic issue more frequently. The Council last discussed youth, peace and security during an Arria-formula meeting on 8 December 2020. The last formal Council meeting on the issue was convened in April 2020, during the Dominican Republic’s Council presidency. The Council has not convened a formal meeting to discuss the Secretary-General’s March report on youth, peace and security. It seems that some Council members and civil society organisations feel that such a meeting should have been convened in a timely matter. Some may also call on members to invite more young people to brief the Council. The Secretary-General’s March report notes that the Security Council has increasingly sought young people’s insights in its deliberations, noting that young briefers participated in discussions on thematic issues such as the climate crisis as well as on country situations such as Colombia, Haiti, Nigeria, and Somalia. Furthermore, the report welcomes the practice by certain member states of inviting young delegates to deliver statements at Council meetings on behalf of their country.