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Remarks by Ambassador Schulz during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on Youth, Peace and Security, April 27, 2020

27.04.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Mr President, the report of the Secretary-General on Youth, Peace, and Security paints a mixed picture. On the one hand, we see some encouraging developments. In many countries, political participation of young people is greater than it was five years ago. Young voices are taken more seriously, especially in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes. That is very good. Building perspectives for young people is crucial, especially in conflict and post-conflict situation. And we would like to encourage all UN Missions, both peacekeeping and political, to adopt a mission-wide YPS strategy, establish YPS focal points, and regularly report on this issue. The UN Verification Mission in Colombia is exemplary in this respect.

The fact that governments are stepping up projects involving young peacebuilders acknowledges the role that youth needs to play in building and sustaining peace. In this vein, we very much welcome the written advice on YPS by the UN Peacebuilding Commission that was submitted today to the Security Council and which encouraged the BBC to continue YPS work in its respective considerations with a view to complement and support the efforts undertaken in the Security Council.

When it comes to building and sustaining peace, Germany is funding a wide range of projects for youth in countries, for example in the Sahel, particularly in Mali, but also in many other countries.

Just to give a few examples: in Burundi we support a project which is strengthening trust and positive relationships between youth and the police. In Colombia, we support the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in their youth-led peace and reconciliation approach. In the Palestinian territories, we support efforts to create safe spaces for youth to initiate and run their own projects while enabling them to constructively engage with their communities. For example, by establishing a community clinic for elderly persons with disabilities, by revitalizing community gardens, or by developing and running awareness campaigns in their own communities.

Let me also say in this context that Germany is currently the strongest supporter of the Secretary-General of the Peacebuilding Fund, which has a proven track record of engaging in project that advance the inclusion of women and youth. Also, when it comes to humanitarian assistance, we attach particular importance to projects that involve youth and take the specific needs into account. For example, regarding psychological support and the Lake Chad region, or to give another example, an educational center that was built for Rohingya children living as refugees in Bangladesh.

Still, the Secretary-General's report paints this mixed picture. On the one hand are these very positive developments, but on the other hand, obviously huge challenges and injustices remain that can be real obstacles to sustainable peace. To name just a very few: one in four young people are still affected by violence or armed conflict. They lack educational and economic opportunities, and their human rights are often violated and curtailed. Young women especially experience patterns of intimidation and harassment when exercising their political rights and participation in peace process. These are attempts to silence their activism In conflict as well as in post-conflict settings, young women are particularly affected by sexual violence. All barriers to political participation of young women need to be brought down.

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding must therefore include diverse perspectives and involve youth from all backgrounds, including young women, LGBTI and young persons with disabilities.

Mr. Chairman, a few words on youth and COVID-19. With schools being closed and families being confined to their homes, young people are assigned additional tasks, providing for the community, often out of the impression that they can bear increased health risks. In addition, with schools being closed, young people in all parts of the world are deprived of education, especially young women and girls are taking up care work at home, which often interferes with education. The Secretary-General in his report on the socioeconomic repercussions of COVID-19 called for “an aggressive back to school strategy”.  We can only underline and emphasize the need for this call.

Mr. President, before concluding, I would like to mention three very short sets of thoughts. First, for numerous projects in the framework of our crisis prevention and stabilization engagement, young people are a decisive pillar as beneficiaries and as agents of change. Across countries and continents, our world witnesses a rise in youth engagement and even a youth quake. If we look at the young climate activists, for example, now taking to activism from the streets to the digital world. This is very encouraging. Secondly, we are looking forward to the Dominican Republic's project of a Security Council resolution on youth peace and security with the goal of institutionalizing the YPS agenda.

Thirdly and lastly, I would like to pick up a few of the recommendations of the German Youth Delegates Eva Croon and Paul Klahre, regarding the advancement of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda:

  • The role of young people as meaningful stakeholders in building peace must be recognized and promoted.
  • The German Youth Delegates ask for youth participation to be diverse, inclusive, democratic, meaningful, timely and trusted.

To conclude my statement, I would like to quote Eva Croon and Paul Klahre: “Encourage, promote and institutionalize the meaningful participation of young people in matters of peace and security” -  in the UN as well as in member states.

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