New York, 23 April 2018
I would like to commend the Peruvian Presidency of the SC for conveying today’s open debate on Youth, Peace and Security.
Young people are, currently, the majority of the population in countries affected by conflicts.
Being the largest generation ever – comprising one-fourth of the world population – young people are essential to ensure effective responses to today’s complex crises, to prevent conflict and to sustainably prepare the future of their countries.
The unanimously adopted SC Resolution 2250, on December 2015, marked the beginning of a process that will ensure a more relevant role for young people in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. We translated it into Portuguese to ensure that it is more widely known by relevant stakeholders and the general public.
As the progress study on youth, peace and security clearly states, young people are already seeking ways to prevent violence and to consolidate peace across the world. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are listened and recognized as partners for peace. The study also indicates that, for young women and men, peace and security depend on human rights-based protection and redress. Portugal fully agrees. It is only possible to have young people as partners for peace if their rights are fully respected, be them political, civil, social, economic or cultural.
Young people are often more vulnerable to violent extremism. They are also more prone to recruitment into extremist groups, partly due to a sense of marginalization and social and economic exclusion. Ultimately, absence of kinship and belonging, alienation and disfranchisement of youth, aggravates their vulnerability. This is exacerbated in globalized societies, by the increased use, by extremists and by terrorists, of information and communication technologies, to incite, recruit, fund or plan terrorist acts, by disseminating a false narrative of glory and sense of empowerment at the distance of a computer click.
We need therefore to work towards ensuring that young people’s human rights are fully respected and that they can be meaningful members of the society. Moreover, it is important to ensure the significant and inclusive political participation of youth. In this sense, Portugal fully agrees with the progress study’s recommendation to enhance the capacity of youth organizations and to recognize youth leadership.
My country believes that, for these purposes, there is no greater tool than education. The full realization of the right to education, including higher education, is essential to achieve this goal and to ensure that young men and women are part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. This is especially important in crisis situations.
Portugal has been supporting the Global Platform for Syrian Students, which is an excellent example of how the international community can work together and create opportunities for those affected by crisis and to ensure a future for that country and that region.
I would like to make use of this opportunity to call on all partners to support the Global Platform as well as the Rapid Response Mechanism for Higher Education in Emergencies.
In conclusion, Portugal has been a staunch supporter of the Youth Agenda at the UN and firmly believes that the World Programme of Action for Youth, adopted 20 years ago by consensus in the General Assembly, continues to offer an adequate response to the serious challenges faced by the young population, since it provides Member States with blueprint practical guidelines for national action and international support. Furthermore, Portugal has encouraged the participation of young delegates in international events related to youth (in September 2017, a member of the National Youth Council was designated to represent Portuguese youth at the event “Youth, Peace and Security” at the UN Headquarters in New York).
Investing in policies and programmes to create an enabling environment for youth to prosper, to fulfill their potential, to enjoy their human rights and engage as responsible social actors, is a prerequisite for a successful collective strategy against the dissemination of violent extremism and for the maintenance of peace and security.
I thank you.