Category Archives: United Nations

Biennale of Luanda: Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace 18-22 September


An article from UNESCO

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, will open the 5-day Biennale of Luanda that will take place from 18 to 22 September in the capital of Angola, with the participation of representatives of governments, civil society and international organizations, as well as artists and scientists from the African continent and diaspora.


The Director-General will take part in the opening of the Biennale alongside João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenco, President of Angola, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, and Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The presidents of Republic of the Congo, and Namibia are also scheduled to attend the 1st edition of the Luanda Biennale, which will be organized around three main axes:

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version of this article)

Question related to this article:

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?

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Partners’ Forum, Alliance for Africa: Created by UNESCO last year, the Alliance mobilizes donors, public and private sector companies, regional and international organizations around sustainable development projects in Africa targeting a wide range of areas in UNESCO’s mandate including heritage preservation and support for free and pluralistic media.

Forum of Ideas – Youth and Women’s Forums: three platforms of reflection on the future of Africa, focusing on the dissemination of good practices and solutions for the prevention of crises, and the resolution and attenuation of conflicts;

Festival of Cultures: showcasing the cultural diversity of African countries and the African diaspora.

Born of a partnership between Angola, the African Union and UNESCO, the Forum is designed to promote the prevention of violence and the resolution of conflicts by facilitating cultural exchanges in Africa and the African diaspora, and connect organizations and actors working on this field throughout the Continent. It is to nurture reflection and facilitate the dissemination of artistic works, ideas and knowledge pertaining to the culture of peace. It is inspired by the 2006 Charter for African Cultural Renaissance.

During her visit to Angola, the Director-General of UNESCO will also sign a partnership agreement for the establishment of national doctoral programme in science, technology and innovation, aimed at training 160 doctoral candidates by 2020. The project is part of a wider partnership to strengthen Angola’s education, science, and cultural capacities.

More about the Forum:

Twenty Years of the Culture of Peace: On the Road to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals


An article from the International Peace Institute

On September 12th, IPI together with the Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation cohosted a policy forum entitled “Twenty Years of the Culture of Peace: On the Road to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”


In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (Resolution 53/243) calling for a transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. Twenty years later, international actors and analysts are increasingly looking at what makes a society peaceful and how we can sustain it. The 1999 declaration identified political, economic, environmental, educational, and health-related components to the culture of peace, presaging the holistic approach agreed to in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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This event served as a kick-off to the 20th-anniversary celebration of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. It allowed participants to reflect on and discuss the connections between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the culture of peace ahead of the forum. Speakers examined these linkages in order to advance the culture of peace at the multilateral level and, in turn, help to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.

Opening remarks:

H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Founder of the Global Movement for The Culture of Peace (GMCoP) and Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN


H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN

Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute


Dr. Adam Lupel, Vice President, International Peace Insitute

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace


An article from UN News

Just as the greatest global challenges cannot be solved by a single country, peace cannot be pursued in isolation, outgoing UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa said on Friday [September 13].

Ms. Espinosa was speaking at a high-level forum to mark the 20th anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of a Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

“Because peace is more than the absence of war, it needs constant nurturing through the pursuit of dignity and equality, of human rights and justice, of respect and understanding, and of cooperation and multilateralism”, she said.

As UN Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti pointed out, although peace is at the heart of the work of the United Nations, it is something that must be addressed daily.

“A culture of peace is inseparable from human rights, respect for diversity, and fairer societies,” she said.

“One main challenge as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is to build more preventive and inclusive approaches that ensure the participation of women, young people and vulnerable, marginalized and non-represented groups.”

The Chef de Cabinet said working to achieve peace not only covers traditional notions of security but also challenges such as social injustice, the normalization of hate speech, terrorism, violence against women, and conflict.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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Leymah Gbowee from Liberia knows many of these issues first-hand. She won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in uniting Christian and Muslim women to help end her country’s 14-year civil war.

She said peace is seen as the absence of bad, rather than the presence of good. However, instead of being “a fairytale of bland happiness”, she views it as quite radical.

“If we dig a little deeper into what a culture of peace actually looks like, it pushes us beyond understanding peace as the absence of conflict and being a positive state itself”, Ms. Gbowee told the gathering.

“A culture of peace creates an environment where people thrive and have their needs met. It looks like a population of satisfied people: healthy children, educated children, a functional health system, responsive justice structure, an empowered, recognized, appreciated and fully compensated community of women; food on the table of every home, and a lot more. It is the full expression of human dignity.”

The high-level commemorative event marked Ms. Espinosa’s final session presiding over the General Assembly, where all 193 Member States have equal representation.

In her goal to bring the UN’s main deliberative and policy-making organ closer to everyday people, she chose the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people of Ghana to deliver the keynote address: a historic first.

Representing a kingdom that has existed since the 17th century, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II ascended the podium wearing kente cloth and accompanied by two praise-singers.

He highlighted some of the UN’s accomplishments in preserving global security: for example, staving off nuclear war and preventing conflict between nations. However, as he observed, the landscape today is different.

“Warfare is no longer the threat we face from states; it is now a danger we face on a daily basis from our citizens and from all quarters. This new threat comes on the heels of an unprecedented trust deficit in political leadership at the national level. The effect of this trust deficit is to erode the capacity of political leaders to rally their people to coalesce around national interests. The consequence for peace and security cannot be overstated”, he said.

The Ashanti leader called for a new partnership between elected authorities and traditional governance, in the spirit of authentic collaboration.

Kazakh capital to host 2019 UNWTO Urban Tourism Global Summit on SDGs


An article from The Astana Times

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Nur-Sultan Akimat (city administration) will organise the eighth UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism under the Smart Cities, Smart Destinations theme in the Kazakh capital Oct. 9-12. The summit will contribute to the UN New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The summit will bring together representatives from national tourism administrations, city authorities and related stakeholders to exchange expertise and set a shared vision to advance urban tourism. Participants will discuss sustainability, accessibility, innovations and inclusion of tourism in the urban agenda contributing to the progress of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The gathering will focus specifically on Goal 11, which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

“According to the UN, in 2015, 54 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas and, by 2030, this share is expected to reach 60 percent. Along with other key pillars, tourism constitutes a central component in the economy, social life and the geography of many cities in the world and is, thus, a key element in urban development policies… Tourism is intrinsically linked to how a city develops itself and provides more and better living conditions to its residents and visitors,” reported the summit’s website emphasising the importance of the chosen topic.

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Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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The summit will focus on how developing smart cities can address urban challenges. The participants will discuss sustainability, accessibility, urban management, innovation and technology, stressing the importance of including tourism in the wider city agenda as a contributor to inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban development.

During the summit’s first day, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) will give a masterclass on trends in the convention industry, focusing on topics such as how to be a successful destination for meetings and organise sustainable meetings.

The second day will start with an opening ceremony including Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Altai Kulginov, Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other higher officials. The participants will adopt the Smart Cities, Smart Destinations Declaration. This will be followed by the mayors’ meeting, where “mayors from around the world will share insights on how to translate a smart city into a smart destination,” and other panel sessions and on the topic.

The summit’s last day will be dedicated to innovative and technological solutions in tourism, the role of public and private partnerships in technologies to develop the sphere and urban destinations’ accessibility through “increased awareness of the opportunities it brings and the emergence of new innovative solutions.”

The decision to have the event in Nur-Sultan was made at the seventh UNWTO Global Summit in Seoul last year. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and the then Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Bakhyt Sultanov signed April 5 an agreement at the UNWTO Mayors Forum for Sustainable Urban Tourism in Lisbon, where the akim presented information about Nur-Sultan’s infrastructure.

The UNWTO is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism around the world. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to advance knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. The organisation has 158 member countries, six associate members and more than 500 affiliate members.

The UNWTO Global Summit is designed to encourage new approaches to tourism and its impact on urban destinations. Previously, the event took place in Seoul (2018), Kuala Lumpur (2017), Luxor (2016), Marrakesh (2015), Barcelona (2014), Moscow (2013) and Istanbul (2012).

A Global Appeal to Save International Law


An online petition at Global Appeal 4 Peace

“We, the undersigned, demand of our governments in their interactions with all nations – for the sake of world peace, international security and the peaceful co-existence of all peoples – to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter, and to follow and defend international law. We urge them to immediately join this initiative and help redirect the world toward an era of global stability and cooperation.”

To endorse this »Global Appeal to Save International Law« please use the E-mail form here to sign.
You can view the complete list of the signatories here:

[Editor’s note: CPNN has signed on to the following appeal and readers are encouraged to do the same]

Since 1945, the Charter of the United Nations has been the most important contract for relations between the nation-states of the world – the very foundation of international law. Today, however, international law and the structure of a rules-based order that the UN Charter defines are in grave danger.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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During the Cold War, international law faced many difficult challenges. Throughout that time, a whole series of destructive military conflicts could not be prevented, while in other cases, the UN was able to mediate or de-escalate them.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was widespread hope that peace and international law would prevail, but instead, the UN Charter was further disregarded.
From the beginning of the 21st century until today, with the dramatic increase of extrajudicial military interventions that clearly contradicted international law, the erosion of the UN Charter has accelerated and the basic principles of non-interference and non-aggression are now openly and brazenly ignored.

Due to this dangerous deterioration of the rule of law, on February 14, 2019, representatives of numerous UN member states gave a press conference at the UN led by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, stating that this is the moment to ratify, confirm and defend the peace and sovereignty of nations and the UN Charter.
Between July 20 and 21, 2019, Venezuela hosted the Ministerial Meeting of NAM, the Non-Aligned Movement. Founded in 1961 NAM is the second largest multilateral body in the world after the UN, and it is an organization of 120 member states that advocates the strengthening of international security and self-determination, while rejecting interference in the internal affairs of other countries. NAM ultimately adopted a declaration reaffirming the principles of the press conference at the UN led by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Arreaza on February 14, 2019.
This declaration includes respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms for all, regardless of the race, sex, language or religion. The declaration not only applies to non-interference in Venezuela, but also to all other nations facing multiple threats, illegal sanctions and destabilization throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.
This declaration particularly addresses the dangerous escalation of tensions, threats, trade wars and sanctions against Russia, China and Iran. We realize that the erosion of international law and multilateral systems will also undermine humanity’s efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change.


Call for applications: Youth Solidarity Fund


An announcement by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

Applications now open for the Youth Solidarity Fund of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). Deadline for applications is Friday, 30 August 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST in New York. Please read the application guidelines carefully before applying.

Programme Overview

The Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF) supports youth-led organizations that foster peaceful and inclusive societies. Seed funding is given to projects, for and by young people, that demonstrate innovative and effective approaches to intercultural or interfaith dialogue. Established in 2008, the Fund responded to calls for action made by youth-led organizations around the world on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth. Today, the Fund is more relevant than ever: As the global agenda increasingly speaks of youth’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security, it is critical to support this participation and contribution through funding and partnership opportunities.

The funded projects are youth-led and youth-focused (18-35 years) but have an impact on entire communities, often involving religious or political leaders, policy-makers, educational institutions and media organizations. The Fund also links small scale and local work to larger movements for social and global change, for a broader and deeper impact.

UNAOC offers technical support and capacity building to the organizations during and/or after the implementation of funded projects in the areas of gender mainstreaming, media relations, advocacy, financial management, networking, sustainability, monitoring and evaluation.


Since 2008, UNAOC has launched seven YSF editions and provided funding to youth-led organizations based in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. A total of 63 projects were funded by the end of 2018 reaching 94,055 direct beneficiaries in 39 countries. In total, more than 1.7 million direct and indirect beneficiaries have been impacted over the past ten years.

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Question related to this article.

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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Example from Uganda

“We’re training youth in Nakivale refugee settlement and surrounding Ugandan communities in peacebuilding. They are taught how they can come together, understand and respect each other, regardless of them coming from different countries, having different religions, and being from different cultures. Thanks to the funding we received, we’ve now seen that youth have now started cooperating, regardless of having those differences. There are reduced cases of fights, hatred and violence.”

Kato Ssekah Abdu
Project Coordinator, Integrated Community Development Initiative (Uganda), 2017 YSF Recipient


The projects funded by the YSF target young people from various backgrounds: students, marginalized youth, minorities, youth in rural or urban areas, youth in conflict or post-conflict situations, artists and activists. The youth-led organizations employ creative methodologies to break stereotypes, improve intercultural relations and promote a culture of peace:

* Educational activities, ranging from one-day awareness raising sessions to week-long trainings, peer-education activities, summer camps, as well as development of educational materials and tools and creation of networks of student leaders and youth clubs;

* Arts and sports as tools to address conflict in a non-violent way, to promote inter-community understanding and to raise-awareness about the dangers of sectarianism, extremism and radicalization;

* Media and social-media campaigns, video production for advocacy purposes and radio series to promote messages of tolerance and peace;

* Creative settings that facilitate intercultural dialogue, interfaith understanding, sharing of experiences and learning from each other in order to bring meaningful change to their society.

SADC and United Nations honor Nelson Mandela


An article in the Jornal de Angola (translation by CPNN)

In recognition of Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom of peoples, the executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Stergomena L. Tax rendered homage to Nelson Mandela “Madiba” for his realization of peace, freedom and social justice in South Africa and in the consolidation of democracy on the continent and in the world.

Mandela was remembered yesterday, Photography: DR

Stargomena Tax said that Nelson Mandela represents the symbol of democracy and freedom not only for the people of South Africa, but also the southern region of the continent and the world. “After 10 years, the world continues to reaffirm its commitment to honor and honor the man who has done everything for the liberation of his people and for peace in the world,” the statement said.

July 18 marks the date of Nelson Mandela’s birth and was established as the Day of the South African leader in December 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly.

It is celebrated every year around the world as Mandela Day.

The SADC executive secretary reaffirmed in the communiqué the commitment of Africans to honor Mandela’s achievements as a legacy for the preservation of peace, the consolidation of democracy and the sustainable development of member countries.

For his achievements, Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Under the leadership of Mandela the South African Government focused on the dismantling of apartheid, combating institutionalized racism, poverty, inequality and promoting racial reconciliation.

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(Click here for the original article in Portuguese.)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Homage in New York

“With hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world, Nelson Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and an end to racism are particularly relevant today,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said yesterday. “Nelson Mandela was such an extraordinary global defender of dignity and equality that anyone in the public service should emulate,” Guterres said.

As “one of the most emblematic and inspiring leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela was an example of courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice.”

“He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his freedom and even life for them,” Guterres said. “As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development, and human rights for all, it would be well to remember the example given to us by Nelson Mandela. Our best tribute is actions,” he added.

The statement recognized the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace. Mandela or Madiba, as he is affectionately known to South Africans is remembered for his humility and compassion, while acknowledging his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace.

“Over the course of 67 years, Mandela has dedicated his life to the service of humanity as a human rights lawyer and international mediator for peace and social justice,” he said. In allusion to all the time of his work, Nelson Mandela International Day suggests that each person spend 67 minutes helping others.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, and died on December 5, 2013, and was the first black man to serve as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, elected in a multiracial and fully representative Free South Africa. Although initially committed to nonviolent protest in 1961, Mandela led a campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, tried and convicted for conspiracy against the Government and sentenced to life imprisonment. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

As President, he established a new Constitution and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations in the country.

Mandela received more than 250 awards from around the world in recognition of his commitment to others.

Several public activities were carried out by United Nations officials and delegates in an initiative organized by the New York authorities.

The Non-aligned Movement must continue to defend respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination


An article from Television de Venezuela (translation by CPNN)

“The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (MNOAL) must continue to strongly defend respect for sovereignty, the right to self-determination, international solidarity, as well as peace and the development of all peoples, including those who remain under the yoke of foreign domination and occupation, “said on Saturday the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), Maria Fernanda Espinosa.

In a video broadcast at the Ministerial Meeting of the MNOAL Coordination Bureau, which took place in the city of Caracas with the participation of 120 international delegations, she said that since its inception the Mnoal became and continues to be a strategic partner for the United Nations, by having almost 2/3 of the membership and 55% of the world population.

In this regard, she said that the participation of this body is essential to respond to the great challenges facing society: eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, protect the environment and ensure health, education and decent work for all people.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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She argued that both organizations agree on the objective of maintaining peace and preventing conflicts, promoting dialogue, cooperation and fair solutions.

She recognized the leadership of Venezuela in this instance for bringing together 120 member countries and applauded that the MNOAL has promoted the declaration of the International Day of Mutilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, which was commemorated for the first time on April 24 of this year in a plenary session. High Level of the General Assembly. “On that occasion, with your support and leadership, we achieved a clear message in defense of an international system based on the rule of law.”

In addition Espinosa remarked that we live in a critical moment faced with the danger of resurgent extreme nationalisms, narratives of confrontation and threats of the use of force or the imposition of unilateral coercive measures contrary to international law. These contradict the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and undermine the dignity of peoples.

The President of the 73rd Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, described multilateralism and international law as the only formula to achieve a true and sustainable peace.

She said that next September 13, she will convene a High Level meeting on the Culture of Peace, on the occasion of the 20 years of the emblematic declaration and Action Program on the Culture of Peace.

She will continue to advocate a culture of peace and respectful dialogue among nations.

‘Young people care about peace’: UN Youth Envoy delivers key message to Security Council


An article from the United Nations Press Service

After visiting refugee camps in Jordan, UN-backed schools in Gaza, municipalities in Kosovo and Youth Councils in Denmark, the UN’s Youth Envoy visited the Security Council on Wednesday [July 17] with a simple message from the field that “young people care about peace”.

However, Jayathma Wickramanayake made clear that “young women and men still suffer from stereotypes, myths and policy panics that harm their agency and affect realizing their full potential for peace”. 

She blamed the susceptibility to being labelled on a “small minority” of young people attracted to extremism and “fueled” by the victimization of youth, “especially young women.”

The principal consequence of framing young people as “a problem to be solved and a threat to be contained”, according to Ms. Wickramanayake, is that it contributes to their “marginalization and stigmatization”. 

Moreover, she flagged that it “detrimentally skews youth, peace and security programmatic responses towards hard security approaches and away from prevention”, while ignoring the fact that “most young people are in fact not involved in violence”. 

Youth, peace and security

The Council first addressed youth, peace and security in 2015 with an open debate on the “role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace”. That led to the adoption of resolution 2250, which, among other things, urged Member States to provide young people with a conducive environment for violence-prevention activities and peacebuilding efforts. 

It also mandated an independent study on youth, peace and security that later served as the basis for resolution 2419, which recognizes the key role of young people in conflict prevention.
Ms. Wickramanayake cited these resolutions as important in today’s world of growing terrorism, organized crime and extremist violence, to “make sure that perspectives on youth are not distorted by contagious stereotypes that associate young people with violence”. 

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(Click here for a French version of this article.)


Question related to this article.

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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The youth envoy also addressed the need to protect young peacebuilders whose activities put them in the spotlight. 

“In the past months I have noticed with grave concern, incidents of young peacebuilders and young human rights defenders being subjected to threats, intimidation, violence, arbitrary arrest and retaliation by State and non-State Actors”, she said.

“I would like to recall and remind all of us with great emphasis that ‘protection’ is an integral pillar of the resolution 2250”, she stressed, calling on governments to “uphold and protect the fundamental rights of young people, including their freedom of expression both online and offline”. 

She reminded the Council that the Youth, Peace and Security agenda is being recognized and institutionalized within the UN as “core” to the Organization’s priorities for young people, and that the UN Youth Strategy, Youth 2030, identifies peace and resilience building as “one of its five core priorities for the UN System’s work for and with young people”. 

“With this first-ever UN Youth Strategy, we have set out on a new path and will support young people in all their diversity in accessing education, decent work, social protection and their health, while we will stand with young people when they oppose injustice and will work with them to prevent conflict and build peace”, maintained Ms. Wickramanayake.  

Through this, “the UN System will promote an environment that recognizes young people’s important and positive contributions to peace and security, while creating safe spaces and expanding opportunities for young people”, she added. 

We Are Here

With a nod to the First International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes, which was held last March in Finland, the youth envoy officially launched the policy paper WE ARE HERE: An Integrated Approach to Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes.
“I hope this is the beginning of a process…for concrete actions to bring peace”, she said. 

Ms. Wickramanayake also announced that Qatar would host the second Symposium in 2020, focusing on young women’s participation in peace processes, which she hopes “will be a good opportunity to further explore the interlinkages between resolutions 2250 and 1325”.

Sustainable peace must be democratized “to include the communities most affected”, she said, arguing that “young people are our best chance in succeeding at that”. 

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Youth, Peace, Security Agenda Starting to Make Difference for Young People in Conflict Zones, But Much Work Remains, Advocates Tell Security Council


An article from the United Nations Press Service

The Security Council’s youth, peace and security agenda is beginning to make a difference for young people in conflict zones and other vulnerable situations, but much work remains to effectively incorporate their voices, energy and ideas into efforts to build and sustain peace, youth advocates told the 15-member organ today.

Wevyn Muganda, Programme Director for HAKI Africa, a national human rights organization in Kenya, said that, if fully implemented, the youth, peace and security agenda can transform the lives of young people and societies.  She went on to describe her Sundays spent with young people in informal “chill spots”, known in Mombasa as maskani, where she connects with influencers and activists.  She added that her blog, “Beyond the Lines”, has helped to build an online community of peacebuilders and activists.  “[United Nations] Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) has secured me and my young peers a seat in the car,” she said, emphasizing that young people must be at the wheel to reach the desired destination.  She noted, however, that police have been accused of entering these spaces to harass and illegally arrest young people.

Sofia Ramyar, Executive Director of Afghans for Progressive Thinking, said that the bombing of her family’s home in 1995 and life as a refugee in Pakistan led her to work for peaceful coexistence in Afghanistan, with human rights for all.  “I want to assure you that the youth, peace and security agenda is preparing a generation of young women and men in Afghanistan that will lead our country towards peace, development and prosperity,” she said, while acknowledging that hierarchical relationships between men and women, as well as between elders and youth, remain dominant.  “This needs to change,” she stressed.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, said “our effort to build and sustain peace needs to be democratized to include the communities most affected”, pointing out that young people provide the best chance for achieving that.  In an increasingly globalized world, Member States must keep going back to Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) to ensure that youth perspectives are not distorted by stereotypes that associate young people with violence, she emphasized.  With 408 million of the world’s 1.8 billion young people living in contexts affected by armed conflict, “we need to engage young people not only as beneficiaries, but as equal partners in all our efforts, especially our efforts to prevent conflict and build peace”, she added.

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Question related to this article.

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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In the ensuing debate, Council members agreed on the importance of giving young people a bigger say in peace and security matters, with many underscoring the need to address root causes of conflict, combat terrorism and violent extremism, provide better education and dignified employment, promote the rights of women and girls, and address the challenges of climate change.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, urged support for national Governments and regional organizations in implementing the youth, peace and security agenda at the national level.  With many young people living in fragile countries, especially in Africa, the African Union attaches great importance to youth inclusion, he said.  Several African countries are working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support initiatives for reducing the radicalization of young people, he noted.

Kuwait’s representative said many young people in the Middle East face challenges to the attainment of their aspirations, with poverty depriving them of the right to dignity and terrorism hijacking their innocence.  He went on to highlight progress in implementing the youth, peace and security agenda in such places as Colombia, Iraq and Kosovo.

Indonesia’s representative declared:  “It is time that we transform our youth from a demographic dividend into a peace dividend,” emphasizing that the youth, peace and security agenda is not meant for Council members alone, but for all Member States.  He went on to cite his country’s experience in empowering young people to combat radicalization, including its adoption of legislation integrating youth empowerment into the national development plan.

The representative of the United States said the Council should hear directly from young people more often.  While diplomats spend a lot of time talking behind closed doors, the reality is that young people are driving and setting the political agenda, she noted.  “They are the change that is happening,” working to end tyranny and speaking up for human rights and accountability, she added.

Agreeing that the United Nations must pay greater attention to youth, the Russian Federation’s representative emphasized, however, that the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary bodies are better placed to address the subject.  Bringing it before the Council does not help the work of the Special Envoy on Youth, he said, warning also that some external players use radicalized youth to overthrow legitimate Governments.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Dominican Republic, France, Poland, Belgium and Peru.

(click here for the full text of their statements.)

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)