UNSCR2250 Birthday and Security Council Recommendations #ِACTon2250
9th of December 2015. The date may not seem important, but it should, especially to adolescents and youth. Today, our percentage is at an all-time high and is expected to remain that way until 2030, according to the United Nations report in 2012 on worldwide population. It is therefore only natural to acknowledge that youth inclusion is critical to solve today’s trending issues, especially given the globalized context that homogenized the world, and our ability to easily communicate with each other and advocate for causes worldwide through technology.
What is UNSCR2250?
That is why on that particular date, acknowledging all the above, the UN adopted the first ever resolution that encompasses the scopes of Youth, Peace and Security together. The resolution 2250 targets youth, aged from 18 to 29 years old according to the document and presented a set of policies and frameworks that youth, UN, civil society representatives and governments should cooperate on implementing. The global policy framework has 2 different objectives relevant to post-conflict and in-conflict areas respectively: — Look into the ways conflict affects youth’s lives and determining how to lessen its impact — The inclusion of youth into peace building solution to create sustainable peaceful communities That is why this resolution is central from an international legal perspective as it not only emphasizes the destructive impact of armed conflicts on youth but also their meaningful inclusion into building better communities and a better world.
Such a large percentage of youth meant that youth-led movements could positively impact conflict and post-conflict environments, if only by numbers. Moreover, it also meant that the inclusion of youth into peace building solutions is vital to building a sustainable “peace” that would be long-lasting.
However, the high number of youth also sadly means that they are the primary victims of armed conflict. For example, in Libya, several activists were and still are oppressed, others have their freedom of speech bound and some were killed for advocating for the right cause.
The importance of an actively planned and systematic inclusion of youth in peace building solutions has also been found as a tool for democratic transition and a demographic-must. We’ve seen examples in Libya of youth being the drivers of change, whether for good (civil society activities, boy scout movement, volunteers, …) or bad (terrorism, youth enrollment in militias, …). Yet there is a high marginalization of youth in all sectors and a lack of representation in decision-making positions that does not transparently reflect the actual dynamics and demographics of the Libyan territory, which may be the root of today’s conflict.
The marginalization of youth isn’t only limited to Libya, but is a worldwide phenomenon, which is what urged the Member States of the UN to advocate for an increased representation of youth at all decision-making levels, acknowledging the rationale that poor representation would encourage inequality, spur conflict and threaten sustainability.
Sadly, technological advances didn’t only benefit us, it also benefitted terrorist organizations that started using Internet to recruit youth or even incite them into conducting terrorist acts. This is very common in Libya, especially with the rise of ISIS that infiltrated several Libyan cities over the course of the past 3 years, including Sirte, Benghazi and Derna.
That is another reason why the global policy framework encouraged local communities, which in essence, are you and I, to develop and implement strategies that would counter the effects of violent extremism and terrorist acts. Lastly, it was also recognized that youth’s views needed to be taken into account during peace agreements. In our society, we rarely see a youth representative that can be taken as seriously as an older governmental official or a representative from the House of Elders.
Unfortunately, this may cause the development of radical views, which we have also witnessed among youth in our society that resent all types of local governments and frown upon any new official entity, which hinders the democratic process.
How is 2250 relevant to you ?
Our youth’s views needs to be taken into account because in Libya:
- We have more than 400,000 internally displaced people amongst which are a large percentage of youth, due to armed conflicts;
- We have hundreds of refugees that attempt to make the journey towards Europe from our shores on a daily basis, which showcases a fragile national security;
- We have hundreds of youth that are enrolled in militias and that need to be rehabilitated to participate in the democratic transition of the new Libya;
- Others from your network, close friends or even family are within the grasp of terrorist organizations that actively seek new recruits and entice youth to commit terrorist acts on the local and international front;
- Our youth is misrepresented on all decision-making fronts, which has a catalyzing effect on conflict and causes a communication gap between our vital segment and the official body representing us; — Women suffer from harassment and have very limited freedom of speech and even less platforms advocating for their rights in the new Libya;
- Civil society activists suffer from the ongoing conflict and their ability to improve the socioeconomic fronts through different projects are hindered.
- Worldwide, under 30 years old represent more than 50% of the population while only 2% are members of parliaments. In Libya, the parliament actually recently voted a law to extend the retirement age, furthering the already obvious gap in Youth inclusion in that area.
For these reasons, the UN 2250 resolution is relevant to you, I and our collective network. We are the drivers for change in our society and only through our tailored approach to the community we originate from can we create an impact and drive change towards a new, democratic, peaceful, sustainable and socio-economically developed Libya.
Recommendations for #UNSCR2250
In lights of my recent involvement in the High Level Dialogue and Consultation on Youth, Peace and Security in the Arab States, I have actually specified some recommendations that I wish to see the Security Council and the United Nations following in order to lead the way for inclusiveness in today’s globalized world. Those recommendations fall in line with the 5 “pillars” upon which the resolution was based, namely that Youth involvement in the Peace and Security agendas worldwide should be done via: Participation, Protection, Prevention, Partnerships, Disengagement & Reintegration.
In terms of Participation:
- The Security Council, in cooperation with the United Nations, should establish a framework of inclusiveness benchmarks that Member States should be liable to follow and work on fulfilling overtime. These benchmarks would include quotas of youth involved in decision-making positions (e.g in governments, parliaments, etc) and would also focus on gender equity.
- The Security Council, in cooperation with the United Nations, should encourage inclusive dispute-resolution initiatives especially considering the fact the primary victims of conflict are youth. A new Youth Compact was adopted in May 2016 that focuses on working both for and with Youth in humanitarian settings. A similar compact should be adopted in the area of Peace Building as the humanitarian, social peace and local development fields often overlap and complement each other in in-conflict or post-conflict areas.
- The Security Council should not consider implementing any Peace Keeping operation unless presented with data gathered from Youth. This data should be taken into account when determining the size and mandate of any Resolution voted in by the Council.
- The Security Council should commit to consulting regionally and on a frequent periodic basis with youth leaders that operate locally within their communities and are able to transparently reflect the situation on the ground. Youth leaders that are specifically engaged and demonstrate their ability to impact their local communities towards more inclusiveness should be consulted on “best practices” for involvement of Youth in Peace and Security on their country of affiliation. This approach would both allow to map regional trends in regards to Youth, Peace and Security while allowing the establishment of National flexible frameworks based on local activists feedback.
- The Security Council should focus on data-driven approaches to prevent and counter violent extremism. Data would determine when Member States need to establish institutions and mechanisms that focus on CVE depending on their context. The Security Council would also use Member States’ demographic statistics to determine quotas that would need to be fulfilled for meaningful Youth inclusion in peace and dispute-resolution scenarios depending on the country’s context.
In terms of Protection:
- The Security Council should commit to gathering data as to the security situation within Member States jurisdiction, especially in armed conflict settings. Data would cover Human Rights Violations, Refugee status, Discrimination and Violence against Women and Persons with Disabilities.
- The Security Council should apply sanctions on regimes that oppress their citizens in order to make sure Member States comply with the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the 1951 Convention in regards to Status of Refugees, the 1979 Convention that eliminates all forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1999 Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Note: Considering the difficulty in “forcing” Member States to protect their civilians against sexual, gender-based, physical and psychological violence, especially in armed-conflict settings, the Security Council should consider initiating a Peace Keeping operation when such violations are repeatedly reported in a specific regime.
In terms of Prevention:
- The Security Council, in cooperation with the UN, should facilitate the creation of an inclusive environment by Youth for Youth through allocating resources to grassroots Civil Society Organizations able to impact and implement violence preventive activities and social peace actions. The reliance on Member States to create this environment contradicts the “ascending” framework of application for #UNSCR2250 in Member States. Activists should impact their own local communities before affecting their cities, departments, countries. Ideally, they should then cooperate regionally to impact change as partners. The immediate creation on a nation-wide enabling environment for Youth that promotes inclusiveness by Member States is highly unlikely.
- The Security Council should create a set of policies positively contributing to social peace and local development to be adopted by Member States. These policies would touch upon issues that Youth leaders cannot change on the grassroots level such as national projects to grow economies, tackle unemployment, development of youth and capacity building, improvement of infrastructure and education and increase political engagement.
- The Security Council should also implement policies that would focus on the transparent identification of Youth Leaders at a national level that could enroll in cross-cultural training. These trainings would familiarize them with policies and projects from “advanced” Member States that they could then replicate in their home countries, while taking into account the local cultural paradigm and external factors. This will also contribute to limiting violence, CVE and xenophobia.
In terms of Partnerships:
- The Security Council should allocate a larger percentage of its funds towards standing behind the cause of Youth involvement in the Agendas of Peace and Security. Resolution 2250 should be acted upon, and both the Security Council & Partners need to champion it for Member States to follow. The Inclusion of Youth advisors in the Security Council and in all Peace Building efforts carried by partners (whether UN or UN-funded CSO organizations) should be a must.
- The Security Council should identify and support grassroots organizations and activists that function in in-conflict and post-conflict settings that are able to map society within their community. These grassroots should, with the help of the Security Council and UN, support the application of UNSCR2250 via partnering and empowering youth, women, religious, cultural and any other leader identified within their specific communities. These leaders, once familiarized with the resolution on a basis of trust by local activists, will champion inclusiveness within their community. This approach would change nations and promote more inclusiveness worldwide, one community at a time
- UN and Partners should identify grassroots and international organizations working on Peace Building locally in in-conflict and post-conflict settings. Their staff should be offered capacity development training by the Security Council/United Nations that would assist them in optimizing their approach to Peace Building within their community. This interaction would also help the Security Council gather data as to the situation within the country and determine best practices relevant to specific territories.
In regards to Disengagement and Reintegration:
- The Security Council should focus on gathering data (via Peace Building Organizations, CSOs and Activists) from Youth that enrolled into armed groups as to the reasons that prompted their continued engagement and the reasons that prompted their disengagement. This type of information is often under looked and should prove useful when devising preventive measures to countering violent extremism rather than repairing its effects.
- The Security Council should offer training to operating Peace Building organizations and activists involved in disengagement and reintegration in order to familiarize them with the needs of youth affected by armed conflict post-rehabilitation. These trainings would follow a “general pattern” presenting needs such as the need for employment, education, psycho-social rehabilitation, training and capacity building. The trainees would perform relationship mapping on stakeholders, within their own societies, specifying who would be able to assist them in fulfilling those needs (e.g civil society organizations, the government, the private sector, media, etc), thus establishing community-specific approaches to disengagement and reintegration.
- The Security Council should commit to assisting with the allocation of funds for identified youth-led Peace Building Initiatives that would have proven the need, in their surrounding community, for youth employment and entrepreneurship programs or soft skills training in communication to promote tolerance and acceptance post psycho-social rehabilitation of Youth.
These were my ideas of recommendations that I found are detrimental for the involvement of Youth in the Agendas of Peace and Security to achieve sustainable Peace and Counter Violent Extremism.
Although they are mainly focused directed the Security Council, we Youth also have the responsibility to support the strategic implementation of this Resolution in our specific communities.
Considering the fact we are more than half of the world’s population, if we don’t have a voice, it is largely attributed to our lack of support towards each other and the lack of influence we exert on our immediate surroundings. I hope that together we can mobilize one another to open opportunities to ourselves and improve the situation in our region, after all, we are yesterday’s hope, tomorrow’s leaders and today’s peace builders.