Young people are powerful agents of change and progress when they are educated and empowered to participate in decision-making. Yet around the world, too many youth are being left behind. International Youth Day is commemorated on the 12th of August which serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth. It is also a time to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
On the 17th of December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998 that 12 August is declared International Youth Day. Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution in 2015, there is growing recognition that as agents of change, young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly, is the key to building and sustaining peace. The important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts, and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peace building efforts.
The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is “Youth Building Peace” which is dedicated to celebrate young people and their contribution to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and affirmed that “Sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security”. The Goal 16 intends to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. The World Programme of Action for Youth, which provides a policy framework and practical guidelines to improve the situation of young people, also encourages “promoting the active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security”.
Young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society is more broadly and it is the key to building and sustaining peace. The process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, health care and basic services promotes their role as active contributors to society and affords young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals. When youth are excluded from economic and social spheres and processes, it can be a risk factor for violence and violent forms of conflict.
At the World Assembly of Youth, we bring together young people, youth leaders and relevant stakeholders from around the world to discuss pertinent youth issues. We also focus on measures to strengthen our member countries in the field of youth and to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities available to young people for full, effective and constructive participation in society.
We acknowledge this year’s theme “Youth Building Peace” as we also promote youth as active leaders and partners in peace processes.We create opportunities for young people’s sustained participation and leadership and create spaces for them to express their opinions and listen to them and Promote intergenerational exchange. Let us engage both member states and the general public to understand the needs of young people, to implement policies to help them overcome the challenges they face, and to encourage young people into the decision-making process.
The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a prerequisite for sustaining peace.
Happy International Youth Day!