Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 9, 2020
Thank you, José, very much. And I thank you, the Dominican Republic and France for your leadership in hosting this event and your leadership on Resolution 2535 on youth, peace, and security. And thank you to all the briefers for your excellent updates on how you are implementing this resolution. It’s always very usual to us to see the actual application of the resolutions and what we are all trying to do.
The United States recognizes the vital and diverse role that young people play in our governments, political processes, civil society, and international organizations in shaping a secure and prosperous future. Our focus on youth, peace, and security today could not be more timely. Youth are the most vulnerable victims when schools are shut down because of conflict or a pandemic. Even worse, when an entire generation of young people are robbed their education due to war. Youth engagement is vital as we work to maintain international peace and security.
However, as several have noted, many challenges to youth engagement remain. On top of social, economic, educational, employment and health institutions that are already weakened by conflict or disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic is triggering multiple, interlinked crises impacting hundreds of millions of young people. These crises can fuel mistrust in institutions and are easy targets for criminal or terrorist groups to exploit. We are already seeing how such groups are taking advantage of COVID-19 to intensify their efforts on social media to spread hatred and recruit young people.
Nevertheless, many young people, such as the ones here today, are leading the way in creating a better and stronger future, including by building partnerships with other promising young leaders around the world. Our briefers today are amplifying the voices and perspectives of young people around the globe, including in Colombia and Somalia and Kosovo.
We are pleased with the UN’s effort to coordinate and streamline youth, peace, and security in UN peacekeeping and special political missions within their mandates. Youth focal points allow Missions to support youth engagement in political, peace, reconciliation, and reintegration processes. We welcome such efforts in the UN Verification Mission in Colombia and UNSOM, and we encourage other Missions to also do so, within their mandates.
It is our responsibility to guarantee a safe environment for civil society actors, including youth human rights defenders and peacebuilders. We remain concerned about the attacks and limitations on freedom of speech, movement, assembly, and association. All young women and men have the fundamental right to participate in public life – a right they possess regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, caste, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.
Just and peaceful societies are ones that listen and incorporate the opinions and aspirations of all their people. Our future rests in the hands of our young people, and we must do everything in our power to ensure their meaningful participation in public life. Their views must be heard, and their participation must be ensured.
Thank you very much, José.