Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 28, 2023
Let me start by thanking Ghana for holding this important meeting, and I also want to thank all of our briefers for their valuable contributions.
Colleagues, UN Security Council Resolution 2250, the groundbreaking resolution on Youth, Peace, and Security, acknowledged two important facts: That today’s youth population is the largest the world has ever known, and that young people are often the majority of the population in countries affected by armed conflict. This is especially true across Africa – a continent with a median age of 19 – the youngest population in the world.
By 2030, two in every five people on our planet will be young and African. We must – we must – empower these young leaders. And the United States fully supports the establishment of mechanisms that allow young people, in all their diversity, to participate in decision-making processes at the local, national, regional, and international levels.
From fiscal year 2022 through fiscal year 2024, we will provide over $100 million to continue and expand the Young African Leaders Initiative. This is the U.S.’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. It will help innovative, diverse, young African women and men excel in the 21st century economy, and catalyze transformational change in their communities, countries, and on the continent. The United States also supports the On-Demand Youth Leadership Program and Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program.
By generating opportunities for positive youth engagement, we can mitigate the risk of youth recruitment by armed groups. And we can bolster accountability efforts. Take, for example, a U.S.-funded conflict monitoring program in Sudan. Young people play a critical role in reporting on the impacts of Sudan’s conflict in many hard-to-reach areas of the country and they elevate important opportunities for international partners to address and mitigate conflict.
Youth engagement is also critical in UN peacekeeping operations, which rely on diverse perspectives to carry out their mandate effectively. By accounting for the perspectives of youth, and analyzing the impact of mission tasks on young people, peacekeeping missions are better prepared to develop a more informed strategy for community engagement, and can better protect civilians and promote inclusive peace processes.
In all this work, international organizations and civil society can make a transformative impact by creating viable, robust, sustainable pathways for youth engagement. And we support the efforts of the African Union, UNOWAS, and UNOCA to advance this work.
Colleagues, our job is to empower young leaders – in Africa and around the world. So that as Mr. Peikar said, they can reach their potential and it is the norm – not the exception. Because our youth are our hope. They are our future. They are already working toward a world free from the horrors of conflict.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.