Today’s world is home to the largest generation in history: 1.8 billion young people, 90 percent of whom reside in developing countries. Youth are a cross-cutting priority at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development driving our societies forward in the prevention and resolution of conflicts ultimately sustaining our development. Therefore, it is imperative to work with, and for, youth increasing our peace dividends which can be leveraged to build the foundations for lasting peace within our communities, nations, regions and the world.
Young people around the world have a critical role to play in raising awareness and developing new strategies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms, including their proliferation. It is imperative to listen, engage and work with this generation in discussions on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control issues.
Secretary-General Guterres has made a major push to empower youth, noting their role as the leaders of tomorrow and insisting the next generation must have a say in how their future will be shaped. He articulates in his Agenda for Disarmament: Securing Our Common Future, how young people have been a tremendous force for change in the world, noting how they have “proved their power time and again in support of the cause of disarmament. Young campaigners have worked at the forefront of successful international campaigns to ban landmines, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons. Every member of the staff of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was under the age of 35 when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.”
Recognizing the importance of young people to bring about change, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has placed youth engagement at the core of its disarmament education efforts. The ultimate goal will be to increase youth participation and create spaces both on and offline for young people to make meaningful substantive contributions to facilitating progress on disarmament. More education and training opportunities are being established, providing a platform for young people from all parts of the world to engage in the area of disarmament. Imparting knowledge and skills to young people empowers them to make their contribution, as national and world citizens.
Security Council resolutions on “Youth, Peace and Security”
In line with Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), the Disarmament Agenda understands the catalytic role youth play in security and disarmament and calls for empowering the young generation as the ultimate force for change.The UN Youth Strategy notes that only by engaging and working with youth, supporting them and creating the conditions which allow them to progress and play an active role, will the international community be able to achieve peace, security and sustainable development for all.
UN Youth Strategy, Youth2030 Working With and For Young People, September 2018 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/18-00080_UN-Youth-Strategy_Web.pdf