UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa
Ambassador Harold Agyeman
Ghana’s Representative to the United Nations
United Nations, New York
August 28 2023
ARRIA-FORMULA MEETING ON “REINFORCING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE YOUTH, PEACE AND SECURITY (YPS) AGENDA FOR A STABLE AND PEACEFUL AFRICA”
I am pleased to reiterate Ghana’s appreciation to all the distinguished briefers today and to all of you for participating in this African-focused discussion on the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda.
Since the Security Council’s adoption of landmark resolution 2250 (2015), a lot of important work has been done to advance the implementation of the five pillars for action (participation, protection, prevention, partnerships, and disengagement) but in the African context, even more is required to be done if we are to be successful in silencing the guns on the continent.
We therefore welcome the perspectives of the briefers and are encouraged by the Secretary-General’s policy brief on the New Agenda for Peace, which recognises the important role of the youth in building and sustaining peace, as well as in identifying new solutions that will secure the peace and stability that our world urgently needs.
Africa has often been described as a continent of promise, and with almost 70 % of its population being under the age of 30 years, the expectations that the youth bulge would translate into a youth dividend has never been greater.
Unfortunately, important segments of the continent’s youthful population are still either unemployed or under-employed, wars and conflicts in several countries have displaced many, and the pernicious impact of climate change has made livelihoods impossible for millions. Given this context, many young people have braved all odds to undertake the perilous journey of crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean; some have fallen victim to extremist ideologies and have been transformed into victimized actors of instability; many others, yet still, have become despondent, marginalized, and easy fodder for self-seeking military adventurist who ride on the genuine concerns of their compatriots to usurp political power as we have seen in six African countries.
As a Council, we spend almost 70 percent of our agenda on Africa, reflecting, from parts of West Africa and the Sahel, East and Central Africa, and North Africa, the threats to international peace and security. Considering the preponderant youthful population in Africa, we believe that increased attention to their concerns, would represent an effective way in maintaining peace and advancing the cause for peaceful, just, and inclusive societies as envisaged by SDG 16.
In this context, in addition to turbo-charging the national implementation of forward-looking regional instruments such as the AU’s Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), we would like to share four specific recommendations that could enhance the meaningful participation of the youth in the development of a peaceful and stable Africa.
First, a non-empowered youth would remain marginalised and cannot help the cause of peace. The Council should help empower African youth by indicating its support for the implementation of comprehensive training programmes on mediation, peacebuilding, peace negotiations and community-led peace interventions, which are tailored to the African context. It can also support the efforts of youth groups at the forefront of community mobilisation to stem the tide of conflicts and play an important role in signalling support for multilateral initiatives such as ILOs initiative for skills development and job creation and the African Development Bank’s transformational vision for youth development and entrepreneurship in Africa.
Secondly, the implementation of the five (5) pillars for action of the YPS agenda requires a whole-of-UN system interface to address existing gaps. While we expect such an approach at the country level, within the context of the sustainable development country frameworks, we also strongly hold that intergovernmental bodies such as the Security Council, the Peace Building Commission, and the international financial institutions should improve their coherence and collaboration in mainstreaming the youth concerns and harnessing their potentials to address the root causes of instability. We further encourage African countries that have not done so to develop their respective National Action Plans as it continues to be a useful tool in harnessing the positive dividends of the youth for development and peace. As the United Nations recently stated, the youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the architects of peace today.
Thirdly, the Security Council’s large role in the peace continuum and its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security means that it must be the natural champion of the youth in peace processes, including within peace operations. We therefore encourage the exploration of the integration of youth perspectives in mandate generation and the insertion of youth-focused officers within missions to work with local youth organisations. Their insights hold the potential to unlock sustainable peace solutions that addresses their needs and their future.
Lastly, we strongly recommend that the Security Council should consider the implementation of the YPS agenda, as a priority item for its annual consultations with the Africa Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC). Besides the opportunity to exchange experiences on this important agenda, it would also ensure that the imperative for the youth of Africa to be a part of the solution to the continent’s challenges is not behind.
I conclude by emphasising that we should not forget that young people are a positive force in preventing and resolving conflicts and building sustainable peace. The YPS agenda is a call to action and as members of the Council we must live up to the expectations of the youth and champion their cause for peace and security.
We must also be unwavering in our commitment in making the youth partners for peace, catalysts for change, and architects of a more stable and prosperous future. Ghana remains committed to this and to the role of the youth for prosperous, peaceful, and stable Africa.
I thank you for your attention and I would resume my functions as the Chair of this Arria Formula meeting.