U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 9, 2020
Thank you, Ambassador. And thank you to you and to the co-hosts for holding this discussion today, recognizing the important and courageous work of youth leaders globally. It is such an important issue and we are so glad that you are leading on this, along with the co-hosts today. And a special thank you to the youth leaders who briefed us today, as well. Your hard work and your dedication are improving your communities, it is making your countries better, and your experiences, and your insight, and your expertise is precisely what this Council needs to hear as we take our decisions related to the maintenance of international peace and security around the world. So, thank you.
I echo a lot of the points raised by the panelists today and a lot of my colleagues here today, as well, about the importance of amplifying the voices of youth leaders and ensuring they have a seat at the table.
The United States remains committed to enhancing the implementation of the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda, both within the UN system and externally with youth leaders and civil society through inter-generational dialogue. But, it is not just dialogue. I like the way it was put by one of the panelists today: an intergenerational co-leadership. I think that is exactly right. It is a good way to put it.
Today, there are an increasing number of leaders and government institutions around the world that are facing a deficit of trust and credibility with their own citizens. When young people lack access to opportunities, they are marginalized or discriminated against, they face security threats, they become more vulnerable to criminal and terrorist groups that target and recruit them, as was mentioned by several people today. Lack of accountability in justice systems and impunity can deepen this frustration, which then, in turn, deepens this vulnerability. It is a bad cycle.
We as a Council have a duty to ensure that young people participate meaningfully and safely in civic life. It is our responsibility to promote a safe environment for all human rights defenders, including civil society actors and peacebuilders.
The United States remains very concerned about attacks and limitations on young people’s rights to freedom of expression, to freedom of movement, to peaceful assembly, and freedom of association in countries around the world.
We also have to explore new, safe technologies and platforms to engage with youth and to encourage their participation in community and civic life, including in policy discussions. This is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of these discussions today are online – like we are doing here today and have done in the Security Council, often since March.
An example of a platform that can be used as a tool both for good and bad is online gaming. While it has served as a tool for terrorist recruitment and radicalization in some cases, it can also serve as a useful tool for advancing social good.
An example of that is an online game called “Bad News.” In it, players take on the role of a fake news tycoon looking to build a media empire. Games like this one – which has been rigorously evaluated – build player media and digital literacy to recognize and reject polarizing, conspiratorial, and hateful false news stories.
In addition, regional and sub-regional organizations play an important role in mobilizing youth leaders to build more prosperous, safe, and free future. The African Union has integrated youth into important political processes, as we have heard today, to reduce conflict through Agenda 2063 and the “Silencing the Guns” initiative.
The UN should also take further steps to mainstream the Youth, Peace and Security agenda into its work. Security Council Resolution 2535 encourages the Secretary-General to develop internal mechanisms within the United Nations system to broaden the participation of youth, including efforts aimed at improving capacity building.
So now we must do everything in our power to ensure that young people’s views are reflected in our policies and that their participation is included in efforts to prevent, resolve, and recover from conflict and crises. It is not, as I said before, and has been said, even better, by our participants today, it is not just participation, but it is youth leadership as we prevent, resolve, and recover from conflicts and crises. They are the future – and all our future relies on their inclusion and empowerment.
Thank you, Ambassador.