Remarks by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem at the Arria Formula Meeting of the Security Council on the Implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda

12 December 2022


May I begin by thanking Ireland, Ecuador and Ghana for organizing this timely and important meeting.

The world faces an unprecedented convergence of multiple, inter-related crises, from a concerning increase in armed conflict, to the impacts of climate change, to the rollback of women’s rights in many countries.

An estimated one in four young people live in settings affected by armed conflict or violence.

Whether it’s an adolescent girl in a war-torn country desperate to stay in school; a young woman living in a refugee camp who fears daily for her safety, or a young activist forced to flee from their home, they ALL have a right to live in peace and dignity.

Today we celebrate the 7th anniversary of Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

Truly groundbreaking, it shifted our understanding, recognizing that young women and men are not security threats to be countered nor are they idle victims; what they are is positive agents of change and critical partners for peace.

The second Secretary-General’s report on youth, peace and security (S/2022/220) provides an overview of accomplishments made and challenges faced over the past two years and offers recommendations for the path ahead.

Regional and national frameworks on youth, peace and security are being developed to make the vision of this Council real on the ground.

Youth, peace and security coalitions – instrumental to coordination and implementation efforts – are in place globally, regionally and in a number of countries.

Progress, yes, but not enough.

Around the world, civic spaces are shrinking, divisions are widening, and trust in institutions eroding.

It is time to turn the youth, peace and security agenda into concrete action, with dedicated funding support and targeted national commitments.

I’d like to highlight some of the conclusions and recommendations for advancing this agenda proposed in the Secretary-General’s report:

First, we need better data to understand the lived experiences of youth. Reporting from peacekeeping operations and special political missions should include age- and gender-sensitive analyses and age- and sex-disaggregated data.

Second, young activists need protection from harassment and retaliation. Member States should consider the Secretary-General's proposed rapid response fund for the protection of young peacebuilders and human rights defenders who face threats.

Third, young people must meaningfully participate. The Council is encouraged to create opportunities for young people to safely participate in its meetings and field visits, and to inform its deliberations.

Fourth, we need to accelerate implementation. This means scaling up efforts to institutionalize the youth, peace and security agenda at all levels. The creation of country- and regional-level frameworks is a good start.

Ultimately, we seek meaningful youth engagement in the core mandates of United Nations political and peacekeeping missions.

We seek field operations better able to monitor and provide age- and gender-responsive protection support to young peacebuilders at risk.

We seek flexible, long-term and sustainable direct investment in peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts led by young people.

Progress on youth, peace and security also contributes to the New Agenda for Peace and to the vision of “Our Common Agenda” for diverse and effective youth engagement in the United Nations.

I am very proud to be here today on behalf of UNFPA representing the UN System.

As our own mandate and the aims of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, which guides UNFPA’s work, are relevant before, during and after conflict.

UNFPA stands with and works in partnership with young people every day, supporting and investing in their leadership.

Together with our partners, we work to shape a human rights-based, evidence-informed, gender-inclusive, youth, peace and security agenda.

We have seen strides forward in the implementation of other important, related agendas, notably on “women, peace and security” and on “sexual violence in conflict”. These processes are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.

More than ever, please let us break silos and work together to build peace in our homes, peace in our world – peace for every young person, and for all of us.

Let us not leave them behind.

Let today be a call to action.

Thank you.

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