Youth is not only the future but also the present
Side event on Youth, Peace and Security
The “Connecting Tissue”: Young people’s meaningful participation in sustaining peace
Statement by Mr. Gabriel Attal, Minister of State, attached to the Minister of National Education and Youth
9 April 2019
I would like first and foremost to thank everyone for being here. I am looking forward to very powerful briefings we will soon hear from the distinguished panelists who are here today.
France is very honored to host this meeting on Youth, Peace and Security, together with the Dominican Republic, Germany and Peru.
I think the main question for us today is not whether Youth is relevant to take part, to take action in peace and security and in the achievement of peace and security. Because they obviously already are, and this is part of the important discussion we had yesterday with Jayathma. Youth is already in action and motion in many of this field. So the main question is whether the United Nations, the Security Council and all the relevant diplomatic processes are ready to acknowledge and admit the benefit of their ongoing efforts for peace around the world.
And France firmly believes that youth should be granted a space to speak, a space to express their views and a space to carry out positive actions to achieve sustainable peace.
All over the world, there are concrete and enlightening examples of very efficient initiatives carried out by young women and men, committed to bring a durable and sustainable peace to their countries and their regions. Last year, Madam Kessy Ekomo-Soignet, a young Centrafrican woman, eloquently briefed the Security Council and demonstrated by her own experience how young women can contribute efficiently to peace and security. Aya Chebbi, Emissaire for the African Union, is also another striking example of advocacy for peace on the whole African continent. There are many other anonymous examples of young people engaged in bringing positive changes to their societies.
Last year’s Independent Study, which was led by experts mandated by the UN, was very clear and very important: many initiatives are being carried out as we speak, whatever to promote social justice, Rule of Law or Human Rights, to eliminate female genital mutilations, to ensure democratic electoral processes or to prevent violent extremism. And I think we have many more actions to take about getting the whole data of how young people are committed in these processes. And that’s another topic we discussed yesterday: we need more studies and more data to be able to work on that.
And yet, young women and men are still the victims of stereotypes. They are seen as the problems and not the solution, which is a problem itself. They are too often seen as causes or catalysts of violence. And those stereotypes are quite often used against them to exclude them from the peace processes or from any kind of work to find solutions, to exclude them from the basic Human Rights they are entitled to and to make them the very first targets of repressive policies. So we need to fight those stereotypes in order to fight these situations.
They also face all forms of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. In particular, they are too often excluded from the world of work. Young women also especially suffer of gender inequalities. All of this has an effect on how they can interact and how they can play a role in the peace negotiations and peace solutions.
So, the question is: what can we do now?
The Independent Study I mentioned has brought to the fore the key role of education in fighting those stereotypes and discrimination. As you know, President Macron has made education a key priority both in France and at the international level. The President has increased France’s contribution to the World Partnership on Education, now amounting to 200 million euros.
Two resolutions – UNSCR 2250 and UNSCR 2419 – have already been adopted by the Security Council on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.
It is high time they are implemented. We also expect the next report of the UN Secretary-General on that issue with great interest and we are ready to take further action, here at the UN and at the Security Council, as more regular young briefers in the Security Council. It is also a key point we discussed.
The First International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes that was just held in Helsinki is a very good step forward. In the context of the Peace Forum, which we organized in Paris last November, France also contributed to give a voice to young representatives.
So it is overall high time we fully grasp the gigantic potential of youth in achieving, building and maintaining peace and security. Youth is the time of possibilities, of accelerations, we say in France “le sourire de l’avenir”, the smile of future. But I also find very important to say that youth is not only the future, we always say we have to take care of youth and empower them because they are the future, saying they are the future is always a positive way to highlight how they should play a key role but saying youth is the future is also saying “maybe they can wait a little bit longer before taking action and taking responsibilities”, so I think we also have to fight for this idea that youth is actually the present and so they have to take part in every actions we implement in order to solve the crises the world is facing.
Thank you very much.