With half of the world’s population under the age of 30, it is time to stop thinking of youth as simply victims or perpetrators of violent conflict and start thinking of them as builders of peace. The United Nations’ Security Council’s Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (SCR2250) passed in December 2015 does just this. Launched at a public event in New York on 5 February 2016, it calls upon governments and civil society to involve youth in every aspect of the peacebuilding process. This landmark resolution is the first time the Security Council has brought youth into the discussion of peace, a critical step in preventing violence and countering conflict.
Peace Direct’s Local Correspondent, Martine (Kessy) Ekomo-Soignet, was in New York for the SCR2250 launch and spoke on a panel at the International Peace Institute about her ADKECTIVE work in the Central Africa Republic (CAR), the resolution and its implementation. As a former Young African Leaders Initiative fellow and a youth leader in CAR, she has a unique insight into the role youth can play in building a peaceful future.
Speaking with Kessy about her time in New York and the launch of the SCR2250, she explained that whilst the resolution is a great and necessary start, it can only provide a foundation. The words will not change anything alone – only action can do that. Governments, civil society and young people should use this resolution as a catalyst to build peace through themselves and their actions.
Kessy plans on bringing this resolution back to CAR and promoting its message. She said: “Implementation of the UNSCR2250 is not just the work of the international community – youth organisations around the world have to make it vibrant through their work with their peers.”
Saba Ismail and her sister Gulalai, co-founders of Aware Girls in Pakistan, have also been engaged with and advocated for the Youth, Peace and Security resolution. Aware Girls has implemented a peer-to-peer education model in Northwest Pakistan which provides young people with non-violent alternatives to extremism. They are especially sensitive to how conflict has distinct impacts on young men and women. Gulalai believes that peace is extremely difficult to achieve without the inclusion of youth. At a press conference regarding the adoption of SCR2250, she stated:
This landmark UN resolution provides an important foundation for young people to play a crucial role in the peace and security in the world today. Now, we must seize this opportunity and put it into action. We have already seen how Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has helped create more space for women leaders at the peace table; now it is time to do the same for youth. Governments and civil societies must stand together with youth, equals in the promotion of peace. And young people must hold their governments to account. It is this kind of grassroots approach that will be the most effective and we are on the brink of something truly great. All that is left is action.