Facing Soaring Unemployment, Sidelined from Decision-Making, Young People Need Greater Role in Development, Peacebuilding, Secretary-General Says

SG/SM/18720
22 September 2017

Facing Soaring Unemployment, Sidelined from Decision-Making, Young People Need Greater Role in Development, Peacebuilding, Secretary-General Says

(Delayed for technical reasons.)

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks on youth, peace and security, in New York on 21 September:

I want, first of all, to pay tribute to Jordan.  Jordan has been, in a very complex and difficult situation of the region, a beacon of generosity and hospitality, paying a very heavy price for that, and with not enough international solidarity.  I wanted to express my very, very deep appreciation for that.

I want first to pay tribute to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for its leadership on the youth, peace and security challenge.  I thank Norway for co-chairing.  And I thank all of you for coming together in support of Security Council resolution 2250 (2016).

We live in uncertain and unsettling times.  Complex, interrelated crises confront us at every turn.  We see immense human suffering with devastating economic costs.  All of this is leading to a crisis in confidence.  The trust gap is growing wider.

For young people, that gap can be measured in two practical ways:  First, a participation gap — where young people find themselves left out of decision‑making.  And second, an opportunity gap — measured most directly in skyrocketing youth unemployment.

We must do better in bridging these gaps and drawing on the enormous initiative, energy and ideas of the world’s young people.  We must make the most of the power of young women and men as drivers of a culture of peace.

Security Council resolution 2250 (2016) is there to give us hope.  As we look ahead, I see a few central issues.  It starts with expanding avenues for young women and men to take part in decision-making processes at all levels.  We need to engage them as partners in conflict prevention, building and sustaining peace and justice.

Youth unemployment is another central issue.  Of course, it would be wrong to draw a straight line between youth unemployment and a propensity for violence.  Yet, it is unfortunately all too easy for frustration and anger to be exploited by extremists of all kinds.  It could be by a violent extremist group.  It could be by a populist xenophobic party.  But, that hopelessness feeds into national, regional and indeed global insecurity — and highlights once again the interconnection between the development and security agendas.

In a larger sense, [the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] provides a tremendous foundation for action.  It rightly defines young people as “critical agents of change” and as a priority across all 17 Goals.

More broadly speaking, I have set in motion a number of reforms to rethink our work on preventing war and sustaining peace.  Young women and men and their contributions to peace should stand at the very core of what will become our new common approach.

The Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by Security Council resolution 2250 (2016) will be a critical contribution in helping us strategically to shift our engagement of young women and men for peace and security.

[In] all we do, our destination is clear:  empowerment.  We must commit to engaging young people fully — not as a symbol or to simply check a box.  The goal must be meaningful participation.

The fact is that young people today are very much engaged, but on channels that political institutions and actors have yet to tap.  We must be far more creative, bottom-up, making the most of technology.  We need to think out of the box on how the United Nations relates to youth globally.  And we need to ensure that we draw on the unique voices, experiences and contributions of young women.

Indeed, I was honoured to appoint Jayathma Wickramanayake as my Youth Envoy.  I invite all of you to extend my Envoy all possible support in advancing youth rights and priorities.

Together, let us work for concrete action on the ground, greater voice for young activists from civil society, and an opening up of the political space for youth around the world.

For information media. Not an official record.