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Statement by Mr. Väino Reinart, Undersecretary for Economic and Development Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Security Council Open Debate on Youth, Peace and Security, 23 April 2018

23.04.2018

Mr. President, Excellencies,

I would like to thank the Peruvian presidency of the Security Council this month for organising this timely debate, ahead of the High Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. The issue of the participation and engagement of the youth in achieving and sustaining peace truly deserves our attention every step of the way. In this regard, we very much welcome the Security Council discussion on that topic. Estonia also aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.

Mr. President,

Let me start by emphasizing the importance of the resolution 2250 that for the first time addressed the need to engage young people in peace and security discussions and recognized that young people play a crucial role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Estonia welcomes the independent progress study on youth, peace and security, and we highly appreciate that a number young people were involved in its preparations.

We hope that this study will be followed by acting upon its recommendations, and it will help to start a truly meaningful engagement of the youth on matters related to peace and security.

I would like to highlight some aspects in particular, why meaningful engagement of youth is of paramount importance.

Firstly, encouraging the youth to be active participants in society contributes directly to prevention of violence, including violent extremism and conflicts. If we are to succeed in our prevention efforts globally, it is essential to put inclusion at the heart of prevention strategies. The progress report noted that structural inequalities and social, political and economic exclusion contribute to youth poverty, violence and powerlessness. Therefore, in order to develop more inclusive societies, we need to support equal access for all young people to education, labour market, advance their human rights and fundamental freedoms, promote rule of law, gender equality and reach out proactively to the most marginalized young people.

Secondly, broad-based and people-centered peacebuilding partnerships that meaningfully include youth, women, civil society organizations and other social actors, are essential in peacebuilding and sustaining peace. The youth are key actors of social transformations, and allowing them to contribute with their enthusiasm, idealism, energy and innovative solutions will benefit peacebuilding efforts. Therefore, once conflict has ended, it is important that young people have the opportunity to participate in post-conflict activities and decision-making processes. It is important to allow the empowerment of young people´s voice.  In terms of making the youth’s voice more heard, Estonia has had a positive outcome of lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 at local elections. It was a response to the initiative of young people who wished to be more involved in the decision making process at the local level.

Mr President,

It is high time that the contribution of young people to sustaining peace was further recognized and supported by the Member States, as well as by the United Nations system. In this connection, we also welcome the report of the Secretary General on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace and we are looking forward to further discussions on this during the High Level Meeting this week.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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