Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UNSC VTC Open Meeting entitled: “Towards the 5th Anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda: Accelerating Implementation of Resolution 2250 and 2419”, 27 April 2020

Mr President,

At the outset, I would like to thank the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Antonio Gueterres, and our excellent trio of youth activists and briefers for their comprehensive and enlightening briefing this morning. It is always encouraging to hear from the youth and their role in, and contribution to peace processes in various conflict zones around the world.

South Africa welcomes the initiative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who during their tenure in the Security Council in 2015 ushered in the landmark Security Council Resolution 2250, the important role played by Peru in taking forward the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, especially with the adoption of Resolution 2419, and the current debate being initiated by the Dominican Republic in this uncertain environment due to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the youth globally.

Under its own Presidency, South Africa sought to prioritise the role of youth and their contribution on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda in the efforts to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020. This resulted in the adoption of a Council PRST containing six additional measures that can be taken to accelerate implementation in mobilising the youth towards Silencing the Guns in Africa that resonates well today, with the call this year by the Secretary-General on the Global Ceasefire.

Mr President,

The role of youth in relation to peace and security is of particular importance to the African Continent where some estimates indicate that 60% of the population are under the age of 25. South Africa supports efforts to fully harness and support the innovation of young people’s contribution to peace, through investment in young people’s capacities; redressing the structural barriers that limit youth participation in peace and security; and emphasising partnerships and collaborative action, where young people are viewed as equal and essential partners for peace.

These aspects have been highlighted in the 2018 Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. They are also reflected in the challenges highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report with the additional challenge of the violation of the human rights of youth.

In terms of the areas of the five key pillars of actions, we wish to reflect the following:

First, on participation, we acknowledge the role played by the youth as agents of change as they were instrumental in advancing the goals of the broader struggle for the liberation and democracy in our country. Young people who were often at the frontlines of the battle for freedom are also now at the forefront of combating poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa. Therefore, the South African Government has made the empowerment of youth central to its development agenda and has set up programmes dedicated to their education, job creation and development. Today, as we celebrate the 26th Anniversary of our Freedom in South Africa – thanks to the heroic role played by our youth throughout the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles.

Second, on protection and prevention, South Africa supports ensuring a safe and enabling environment for youth in conflict situations, particularly young refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. This will be vital in creating a post-conflict environment for youths’ positive participation in the economy and society in general, and a preventative measure to address inequality, discrimination, exclusion and human rights violations as a driver of conflict, as identified by the Secretary-General. In this regard, investment in the meaningful participation of the youth in politics, as well as the socio-economic environment, is therefore vital. As the Security Council, we should also not forget the plight of millions of young migrants in various corners of the world.

Third, in terms of partnerships, disengagement and reintegration it is important to build on the active engagement of the youth and youth organisations in multilateral processes, in order to ensure long-term partnerships as well as that the youths’ voice is reflected in all engagements. Most importantly, we need to mainstream and institutionalise youth participation and partnerships in all peace and security processes.

In this regard we would like to highlight the Continental Framework for Youth, Peace and Security, developed by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council as part of the Continent’s Peace and Security Architecture as well as the Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth towards Peace and Security in Africa. These serve as good frameworks that can be replicated elsewhere. It remains essential that the youth be prioritised with regard to Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration as they tend to be particularly vulnerable with regard to reintegration in society if their formative years are spent as participants in armed conflict and extremist groups.

In addition, fourth Mr President, the Security Council reform, society must pay particular attention to the Security Council reforms, as new Security Council organs are established in post conflict situations.

Fifth, empowerment of young women, South Africa continues to be concerned about the trend that youth programs tend to prioritise the roles of young men over young women in society. This is further exacerbated by the disproportionate targeting of young women with sexual and gender-based violence. Therefore, the outcomes of this meeting should reinforce the work in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted during Namibia’s Presidency in the Security Council in 2000, the 20th Anniversary of which we celebrate today, its subsequent resolutions, including Resolution 2493 on women, peace and security adopted in October 2019, during South Africa’s Presidency of the Security Council.

I would like to conclude by emphasising that South Africa believes that we must harness the dynamism and positivity of the youth and build resilience in order to counter sentiments aimed at resorting to violence as a means of securing any misguided interests.
 
I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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