Guterres said young people are “not only heavily affected by these crises – they are on the frontlines for action and solutions.” He stressed that youth “must be at the centre of efforts to address these challenges and build more peaceful, just, and sustainable societies.”
The UN chief noted that his report on ‘Our Common Agenda’ recognizes the pivotal role of youth as designers of their own, as well as the world’s shared, future.
He said, “We need to ensure that young people have a seat at the table – forging inclusive solutions that combine peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. I salute young people for already stepping up and leading by example. You represent a source of innovation, ideas and solutions.”
While young people have been at the forefront of efforts to build and sustain peace, including through activism and peaceful protests, and many countries are taking steps to harness that potential, Guterres said opportunities for meaningful participation remain insufficient. He explained that numerous young peacebuilders – especially young women – report that their participation is not welcomed by the public or those in positions of power.
The Secretary-General said reports of threats and human rights violations against young peacebuilders and human rights defenders are also of grave concern. He stressed the need to strengthen human rights protections, safeguard civic space and ensure an environment that enables young people to meaningfully and safely participate in peace and security efforts.
Guterres said, “Young people are not only citizens with equal rights but also powerful agents for change whose voices must be fully heard.”
The UN chief told participants that they could count on him and the UN to continue to amplify young people’s voices and support their efforts towards a peaceful, sustainable and inclusive future.
The High-Level Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes is being held virtually today and tomorrow, and is co-hosted by Qatar, Finland and Colombia and co-organized with civil society and UN partners. The virtual Global Conference aims to secure national commitments to advance gender-responsive country-level operationalization of the Youth Peace and Security (YPS) agenda, and to strengthen political will and commitment towards including youth into peace processes with particular focus on young women.