Shifting Paradigms: The Role of Young People in Building Peace and Security

21 September 2017

Remarks delivered by UNFPA Acting Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem at the ministerial event "Reaffirming Commitment to the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda" during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

[As prepared for delivery]


Today’s generation of young people is a major force for social, economic and demographic change – and their wellbeing and meaningful participation is fundamental to achieving a just and peaceful world.

In all regions of the world, we see young people rolling up their sleeves, introducing innovation, serving the needs of affected populations, and building hope, resilience and social cohesion in their communities and nations.

I have seen firsthand the outstanding work done by young people from the Y-PEER network, in contexts as challenging as South Sudan, Iraq and Syria.

And I am proud of UNFPA’s continued leadership in putting young people front and centre on the international agenda. UNFPA, in collaboration with the Peacebuilding Support Office, is leading the development of the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. The study has collected young people’s insights and approaches to peacebuilding, focused on prevention and inclusivity, and will present a pathway for future action.

Young people across all regions are substantively contributing to the discussions on key peace and security issues. And they are identifying solutions for – and indicators of – progress for the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.

I am fully confident that the study will be a turning point in the way we all, as an international community, engage with young women and young men on peace and security.

Let me also mention that UNFPA is also co-leading the Compact on Young People in Humanitarian Action – a vibrant partnership that we have built together with young people to increase attention to their needs and aspirations in humanitarian action.

As the Secretary-General mentioned, it is up to the United Nations to create an enabling environment for young people to be actively engaged, to influence important decisions, and to fully enjoy their rights as citizens of the world.  You can count on UNFPA to do its part.