The President of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. John W. Ashe, convened the UN High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace on 9 September 2014. The Forum provided an opportunity to exchange ideas and information around building and maintaining a global culture of peace—it included panels on global citizenship and the role of women and youth as pathways to achieving this goal.
An interactive panel on the contributions of women and youth to advancing the culture of peace featured Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Assistant-Secretary-General, Ms. Kathleen Kuehnast, Director of the Center for Gender & Peacebuilding at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), Ms. Sanam Anderlini , co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), Mr. Oliver Rizzi Carlson, United Network of Young Peacebuilders Representative to the United Nations, and Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi , the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, with Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, serving as moderator.
The panel stressed that although peace takes hard work, it can be achieved through cooperation and communication between all levels of society—especially youth and women. Mr. Alhendawi emphasized the unequivocal role of youth inclusion in the peace process at a time when peace is increasingly precarious throughout the world. He warned of a “lost generation of youth in conflict zones,” whose potential is threatened by instability and lack of opportunity. “It is not only about providing shelters and food. It is about providing hope,” said Mr. Alhendawi.
The conference panel concluded with the recognition that a culture of peace is an ongoing process which needs to be cultivated. Mr. Alhendawi urged listeners to work for peace “together to ensure that the largest generation of youth is the opportunity, not the liability of our time.”