There can be no lasting peace if the needs and expectations of youth are ignored [fr]
Peace and Security in Africa: Mobilizing youth towards silencing the guns by
Statement by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 2 October 2019
As the Permanent Representative of Germany just recalled, the convening of this debate a few days after the remarkable mobilization that we witnessed during the Climate Action Summit highlights very aptly the crucial importance of listening to what young people have to say to us and of including future generations in the discussions and decisions that should enable us to overcome the current crises and challenges together. Interaction and unity among generations are vital. In that regard, I would like to thank our young briefers today for sharing their experiences and recommendations.
France’s commitment to peace and development in Africa is known. In Ouagadougou in November 2017, President Macron outlined the basis of our partnership with Africa, which is founded not only on achieving peace and security and promoting development and innovation, but also above all on the African youth, who are central to our common future and whose fulfilment is a vital component. There can be no stability or lasting peace if the needs and expectations of young people are ignored.
The path to lasting peace in Africa cannot be limited to a military response to crises and threats. A broader approach is needed, as Ms. Aya Chebbi, Ms. Hafsa Ahmed and Mr. Victor Ochen very eloquently described. Moreover, that is the main goal of the Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020 initiative, which France supports. That goal cannot be achieved without the full and active participation of young people and without them having the means to meet their needs for social recognition, professional and personal success and, more broadly, political direction and hope.
They are optimistic and mobilized and we should both acknowledge and encourage them through words and, above all, deeds. There are many specific and very enlightening examples of initiatives led by committed young women and men across the continent. I believe that we were all impressed by the determination of Burkina Faso’s youth to defend on two occasions, sometimes at the cost of their lives, the benefits of democracy and the rule of law in Burkina Faso. I personally admire young people’s ability to act and to unite by using social networking and by developing new and often more creative and participatory techniques.
The commitment to democracy of young people in Tunisia during and following the revolution was striking. I witnessed their drive during my previous post in Tunisia, in particular at the Youth Forum, organized with the support of France.We also support the work of the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the African Union to strengthen the capacities of young women and men through an approach that links the Silencing the Guns initiative and the youth and peace and security agenda.
Unfortunately, contrary to what should happen, young people continue to be victim to stereotyping and discrimination. They remain largely excluded from decision-making processes, political institutions and the labour market. They are sometimes seen only, or primarily, as troublemakers or a breeding ground for violent extremism. Those stereotypes are too often used as pretexts to disregard their demands, to violate their rights or even to use violence against them. Among youth, young women are the hardest hit by injustices, exclusion and discriminatory social norms, particularly during conflicts. In that regard, France supports the women and peace and security agenda, which aims in particular to promote the voice of women and young women in order to build lasting peace.
We must guarantee respect for the most fundamental rights of all young people, including the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful demonstration. Youth must be able to participate in decision-making processes and be fully taken into account in peace settlements. As it has been suggested, it would be very useful to have young people brief the Council on a regular basis, including on country-specific situations.
To enable young people to live up to their full potential, education is the number-one priority for France. It is the best way to prevent opposition to the spread of knowledge and shifts towards violence. France has made education its priority at the international and national levels, with more than €300 million contributed for basic education in Africa through the Global Partnership for Education and through bilateral aid. That commitment was reiterated at the Group of Seven Summit presided over by France, specifically during the meeting of the Development and Education Ministers, to which youth representatives from the Sahel countries were been invited.
France has also decided to revise its development policy in order to adopt a partnership-based approach aimed at better involving civil society, young people, businesses and diasporas. France will also ensure that youth is at the centre of the Generation Equality Forum 2020, which is being jointly organized by UN-Women, France and Mexico, to be held in Paris in July of next year.
France calls on all actors to commit to enabling the active participation of young people in building international peace and security. We therefore welcome the call for initiatives launched by the International Organization of la Francophonie aimed at civil society youth organizations. We also look forward to the recommendations to be made by the Secretary-General in his report on the implementation of resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018), which established the youth, peace and security agenda. It is indeed high time to fully seize the immense potential of young people to achieve and maintain international peace and security in order to build just, peaceful and inclusive societies, while also respecting nature, as we have all collectively endorsed within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
I would like to conclude on a literary note by paraphrasing Amadou Hampâté Bâ, who once said that human life is like a big tree and that each generation is like a gardener. We therefore have a great deal to do in order to tend to our shared garden.