8 August 2020
We, the Nigeria Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security, a coalition of over 50 youth-led and youth-focused peacebuilding organisations in Nigeria, welcome the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2535 on July 14, 2020, as the third UN resolution on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda. This new resolution calls on all United Nations member states to ensure the protection of young people in civic spaces and recognises the agency of young people in contributing to peace and security while urging key stakeholders including the government, international organisations, civil society and private business actors to include youth in all relevant peace processes. We commend the United Nations for this bold declaration again in support of the work young people and youth-led peacebuilding organisations carry out across the globe in the midst of varying challenging terrain.
For us in Nigeria, we state unequivocally that there is no better time to push for the protection of young people than now. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected Nigerian youth leading to high levels of deprivation, human rights violation and insecurity. The high unemployment rates in the country have ensured most young people adapt to menial jobs and small-scale businesses that depend on daily wages to earn their living. Unfortunately, the varying degrees of lockdown procedures and restrictions since March 2020 have led to a loss of the livelihoods of millions of youth with very little palliatives or succour provided by the relevant policy-makers. Gender-based violence has increased dramatically with young girls and women being abused by pedophiles and sexual predators without adequate deterrence from the justice system. Hard-working young people continue to be wrongly profiled by security agencies as fraudsters with their fundamental human rights trampled upon in arbitrary detentions, sexual harassment and intimidation. Meanwhile, young people continue to be slaughtered as victims of the various conflicts across Nigeria including terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and herdsmen/farmer crises. The continuous killing of young men and women in Southern Kaduna is another example of the endemic nature of violence against young people in Nigerian society.
With continuous commitment from the UN, African Union and other stakeholders on strengthening the role of youth in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, we, therefore, call on the Nigerian government at all levels, private sector, civil society organisations, to concretely invest in youth peacebuilding, create the right space for young people to manifest their work and work towards the domestication of this new resolution and the existing UNSCR 2250 (2015) and UNSCR 2419 (2018) on youth, peace and security.
The following measures should be considered and put in place:
- Remove all barriers and integrate youth into all decision-making institutions, as youth play a vital role in strengthening national, local and community-based capacities in conflict and post-conflict situations.
- Launch targeted measures to sustain the livelihoods of Nigeria youth in this COVID-19 period. The proposed 774,000 jobs are a good start but a lot needs to be done to cater for the millions of unemployed youth in Nigeria. The newly created N75 billion Nigerian youth investment fund should be judiciously used for visible youth development and capacities.
- Protect young women and girls from gender-based violence by reforming our justice system, adapting extensive anti-gender-based campaigns across all media and providing counselling and rehabilitative services for victims.
- Partner with youth-led peace actors working in local communities through capacity-building increased funding and recognition for their efforts.
- Young people should intensify the good work, create more educational awareness and increased engagement and implementation of the resolution at all levels.
- Invest in conflict prevention approaches and ensure the security of lives and properties of the people.
As a coalition of youth-led organisations working across various aspects of peacebuilding including youth in politics, gender empowerment, sustainable livelihoods, climate change and conflict prevention, we offer our expertise to the Nigerian policymakers in order to ensure adequate domestication of these vital global frameworks so as to improve the well-being of all youth in Nigeria.
Once again we appreciate the penholders of this resolution, Dominican Republic and France – who led the process, the UN Security Council, UN Envoy on Youth, civil society organizations especially the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security for their continuous support for youth peacebuilders across the globe.
Signed on behalf of the Coalition:
Rafiu Adeniran Lawal, South West, Nigeria
Joy Godwin, South South, Nigeria
Precious Ajunwa, South East, Nigeria
Kaltunmi Abdul Azeez, North West, Nigeria
Imrana Alhaji Buba, North East, Nigeria
Olasupo Abideen Olasupo, North Central, Nigeria