Statement at the Arria Meeting on Youth, Peace and Security
Statement13 December 2022
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda at the Security Council. It is a moment, as I said earlier, to celebrate its achievements, but also acknowledge where we are falling short. And to do this we must go back to the roots of this agenda. And discuss how we can ensure that young people are embedded into our peace and security architecture.
Throughout history, every generation of young people has faced challenges, often extreme challenges, and they have responded with determination and ingenuity. Wars. Violence. Recessions. Famine. Today, they are facing the impacts of climate change; global political instability; and energy and food crises. This all comes amidst the economic and social aftermath of a devastating global pandemic.
For those just finding their feet into adulthood, the world can be cruel and extremely challenging and in some ways very frightening.
Yet young people’s resilience and dedication to changing that world for the better is unquenchable. And we, in this room, should be grateful for that.
We have just heard from Nynar about how Sudanese youth are leading positive change. Young people are at the forefront of building new forms of social movement. Leveraging art, music, culture and new ways of communicating, grassroots organizing, solidarity and protest, they are challenging class, ethnic and gender divisions.
Young peacebuilders from Colombia to Mali to Iraq are demanding to be a part of building their countries’ futures. They want to contribute to an inclusive, sustainable peace. Recently young people in Iran, notably young women, have been standing up for their rights. And globally, we are seeing young people as the leading voice holding us accountable on our climate actions, and in some cases inaction.
In my own country, young people were the driving force of much of our social change over the last two decades. And they have created a lasting positive impact.
We have long known that non-inclusive peace efforts are simply not sustainable. We have the blueprint, and it is now up to us to implement.
Firstly, we must do better to have buy-in to the YPS agenda. Resolution 2535 gives us clear guidance on how to include young people and ensure their meaningful participation. So bring YPS and young peacebuilders into the Council. Put YPS language into peacekeeping mandates. And secure the money, the resources, to match our ambition. Partnerships are a crucial factor in this: Ireland has been supporting the empowerment of youth through actors such as Interpeace.
Secondly, from local to national to regional levels, we must hear and heed young people’s voices. From National Youth Councils and Youth Parliaments, to the UN Youth Delegate programme, countries should enhance their capacity to integrate young people at all levels in policy making and peace and security matters.
Thirdly, we know that youth continue to face pushback, threats or reprisals for their advocacy. Protection is a key pillar of the YPS Agenda. We must instill that in our efforts to promote human rights and a vibrant civic space.
Fourthly, we must recognise that peacebuilding is inherently intergenerational. It is not a one day action, but a continuous, conscious effort. We know this from our own peace process on the island of Ireland. Without the meaningful participation and engagement of young people, we will simply not achieve our aims.
We cannot afford to forget that it is our young people who will carry the torch of peace into future generations. So this is not the time for stagnation but action. As we exit the Council later this month, we encourage you all to keep this agenda burning, to keep it going forward. And Ireland will certainly do its part.