|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Informal Meeting with Youth (AM)
Security Council Hosts Informal Exchange with Youth on Topics Ranging from Nuclear
Disarmament, Terrorism, Threats Emanating from Global Economic Inequality
Secretary-General Calls on Security Council to Act Decisively
To Return United Nations to What It Was in His Youth — ‘A Beacon of Hope’
Pointing out that in his youth during the Korean War, the United Nations had been a “beacon of hope”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged members of the Security Council to act decisively to enable the Organization to keep that status, as he spoke at a special event for youth sponsored by the United States, whose delegation holds that body’s rotating presidency for the month.
“The message that these young people send us today is very simple and direct,” Mr. Ban said. “Act and deliver. Match your words with your deeds,” he said.
At the beginning of December, the Council presidency had invited anyone between the ages of 13 and 21, in any part of the world, to tell the Council what they considered “the most vital challenge to peace and security facing your generation”, according to United States representative Susan Rice.
From 2 to 14 December, she said, almost 1,000 submissions had been received from young people in more than 90 countries and on every continent, in dozens of languages, by e-mail, on YouTube and through Facebook. Some were even written by hand.
“Make no mistake, this generation is deeply affected by every threat to international peace and security. And very soon, they’re going to inherit the responsibility for fixing them,” said Ms. Rice, pointing out that young people made up nearly half the world’s population and even more than that in many of the world’s least developed regions.
Among the responses shared at the event were statements and queries about nuclear disarmament, peacebuilding, terrorism, violence against civilians during armed conflict, particularly sexual violence, sustainable development and the threats posed by the persistence of economic inequality worldwide. Also addressed were climate change, the so-called digital divide, skyrocketing needs for energy and the need for universal education.
Three video messages were featured before members of the Security Council spoke. Seventeen-year-old Fabiola Estrada of Venezuela spoke of the link between global arms spending and the lack of funds for development. Gloria Ramazani, a 20-year-old from Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, pleaded for efforts to bring about durable peace in her country, noting the devastation conflict had wreaked on the lives of girls.
Oussama Bessassi of Tunisia, a 17-year-old student, said terrorism was the most serious threat to peace, attributing its spread to poverty and hunger, in addition to the lack of communication between people, generating hatred. He said that the job of young people was to try to reach those who were susceptible to such feelings.
As Council members took the floor to respond to those messages, all expressed appreciation for the holding of today’s event. Philip Parham from the United Kingdom, among other issues he addressed, explained his country’s strategy for counter-terrorism, which, he said, included measures to try and eradicate root causes, such as economic deprivation and injustice. In that position, he was echoed by many other speakers.
Shigeki Sumi of Japan said it was interesting that young people were not only interested in security based on military might, but in a wider notion of security that encompassed many human needs, such as that described by the concept of human security, which his country was promoting.
Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria concurred with that wider notion of human security, as well as a need to deal with terrorism’s root causes. He said it was important for the Council to address disarmament, and he described lessons learned about sexual crimes during the Council’s recent mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Brazil’s representative, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, appreciated the concern of young people for conflict prevention. Nawaf Salam of Lebanon spoke of the importance of multiculturalism, thanking the young people for their input in Arabic and assuring them that they were being listened to attentively.
Nigeria’s representative, Kio Solomon Amieyeofori, said he hoped that the input of young people would continue, as he responded to a wide range of interventions, raising the issue, as well of the problem, of small arms and light weapons. Ivan Barbalić of Bosnia and Herzegovina said “we are together in this common struggle”, particularly the struggle against sexual violence and impunity for crimes against humanity, and the struggle to give opportunity to all.
Representative Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon said it was critical for global issues to be discussed in families and among young people, and to get involved. Among other issues, he described Council support for peacekeeping efforts such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda noted that young people were particular victims of war and violence, not only because they were killed or displaced, but also by because they were pressed into service as soldiers and suicide bombers.
Wang Min of China described the process of encouraging peaceful resolution of conflict through an analogy of a mother urging a sibling to discuss how to divide a piece of chocolate equitably. Ertuğrul Apakan of Turkey, focusing on terrorism, said young people had a large role to play in helping to prevent extremism. He urged young people to work together to achieve a better world.
Following those statements, young people present were given the opportunity to ask questions of Council members. Conflict in the Korean peninsula, Somalia and Côte d’Ivoire, and terrorism among young people excluded from school were addressed. In response, Mr. Min of China spoke of the emergency meeting on the Korean situation held over the weekend, saying it was unlikely that the situation would be resolved overnight, but that dialogue was necessary to do so.
Mr. Rugunda of Uganda described the efforts of the African Union and the United Nations to assist the Government and people of Somalia to stabilize their country, noting that in the course of the week, such support might be strengthened. Mr. Amieyeofori of Nigeria gave background on the electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, noting the unity between regional and international organizations. Mr. Apakan of Turkey said education and dialogue that promoted peace and harmony between peoples was critical.
Ms. Rice of the United States explained that the Council was focused on preventing, ending, or supporting recovery from conflict, using as examples the situations in Sudan, Guinea, Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Timor-Leste. She also described related efforts such as the fight against terrorism, nuclear proliferation and impunity.
She said she had heard from the young people today, however, that they were concerned with the underlying conditions that helped generate conflict. She affirmed that their concerns were real. “There are huge gains for peace and stability to be won with development.” Many parts of the United Nations system were concerned with underlying problems, she explained.
Cyberterrorism was not yet part of the agenda, she said. However, just as HIV/AIDS was now seen as a threat to peace and security, it could very well be that cyberterrorism would be addressed by the Council sometime soon. She hoped that today’s event was just the beginning of allowing the perspectives of young people to bear on the work of the Council.
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