Youth is essential to finding the innovative solutions that our world needs. We must involve young people in our efforts to build sustainable peace, without burdening them with our responsibilities. The Secretary-General has made this clear in the New Agenda for Peace and the Security Council has recognized it through its Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. Switzerland regrets all the more that this session will not be broadcast on UN Web TV and thus made accessible to the public (through official channels).
During this meeting, which we thank Ghana for organizing, I would like to highlight three elements aimed at accelerating the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda: participation, protection and economic opportunities.
Firstly, we need to create more forums for participation and dialogue for and with young people. While this is primarily the responsibility of governments, other actors are also called upon to act. The African Union is setting an example. Its "Young Ambassadors for Peace" work to empower African youth to promote peace, security and development. They ensure that their voices are heard at regional level.
At national level, I would like to cite a Swiss example: the Swiss Commission for UNESCO recently launched a "Council of the Future". 80 participants under the age of 25, representative of the diversity of Swiss youth, will together formulate their expectations around a topic submitted by their peers – in this instance mental health. This project is an opportunity to broaden the democratic participation of young people, through citizenship education.
But let us be clear: we also need to strengthen the protection of young people against different forms of violence, notably by implementing international humanitarian and human rights law. We need to better understand how young age and gender interact with the risks of becoming a victim of violence and being restricted in the exercise of one's rights. This is why Switzerland is calling for the UN database on this subject to be expanded. The same applies to obstacles to participation, which can also vary between different contexts and according to gender identity.
Finally, we need to facilitate the economic participation of young people, and accompany their efforts for peace with programs that promote their economic independence. The Peacebuilding Fund's initiative to promote youth and gender equality is important in this regard.
Participation, protection, economic perspectives: This Council has instruments at its disposal to strengthen these three integral components of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. It must take them into account in its risk analyses and in the mandates of its peace operations and special political missions. It can invite experts such as Mr Peikar to its discussions, but above all, it must listen to young people.
In this vein, Switzerland welcomes the briefings by young people at Council meetings – such as today. Or as in May, when Cynthia Chigwenya, AU Youth Ambassador, made the following appeal to the Council: “Through our deliberate efforts, young people around the world need to understand that they are not just included, but that they are co-creators, essential to shaping the international agenda.”
Switzerland supports this appeal. We are committed to making it an integral part of our discussions on the New Agenda for Peace, during the Summit of the Future and beyond.
I would like to pay tribute to all the young people around the world who work for peace, often in difficult circumstances. We thank them for their indispensable efforts.
I thank you.