The United Nations (UN) has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening young people’s participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding with the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2535 (2020) on youth, peace and security. This resolution sponsored by France and the Dominican Republic is seen as the third baby in a row after the adoption of UNSCR 2250 (2015) and UNSCR 2419 (2018) and it is welcomed as a step in the right direction as it addresses the growing concern about young people’s exclusion from formal peace and political processes and the shrinking civic spaces faced by young peacebuilders. UNSCR 2535, therefore, amplifies the need for young people to be given the needed space and support to manifest their work. Unsurprisingly, the new resolution is coming months after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for accelerated action on the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda by member states.
Resolution 2535 specifically calls on UN member states to ensure that young people working for peace and security are protected and the conditions that enable them to unleash their potentials are created. It emphasizes that since young people will have to live with the benefits or consequences of present decisions and actions, they must be meaningfully engaged and included in local, national, regional and international decision-making processes and it also provides practical steps for youth inclusive processes. This resolution requests the UN system, member states and regional organizations to appoint national focal points for youth, peace and security and also prioritize capacity building and technical guidance for young people. Another interesting element of the resolution is that it requests the Secretary-General to submit a biennial report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419. By this, it establishes a regular reporting requirement on youth, peace and security for the first time. This has been a contentious issue during negotiations on previous resolutions.
The COVID-19 humanitarian crisis has shown once again the need to rejig the way engagement is done with young people. As we have seen, youth peacebuilders are on the frontlines of emergency response interventions contributing in no small measure to halt the pandemic and sustain the very fabric of the society. As UNSCR 2535 has shown again, it is therefore imperative that adequate support and partnership is extended towards this unique demographic.
Building Blocks for Peace Foundation is delighted to have participated in the various discussions and consultations leading up to the adoption of UNSCR 2535. As a youth peacebuilding non-governmental organization, we look forward towards its full implementation at local, national, regional and international levels.
UNSCR 2535 provides the needed framework for the protection of young people in their diversity. We hope it puts an end to the discrimination, demonization, mistrust and human rights violation against young men and women working for peace and security. Read the full resolution here https://undocs.org/en/S/RES/2535(2020)
Rafiu Adeniran Lawal
Executive Director, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation