Video Statement by Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth for the second regional Government-Youth Dialogue for Central Asia and Afghanistan, convened by UNRCCA

Second Government-Youth Dialogue for Central Asia and Afghanistan (10 December 2020)

15 Dec 2020

Video Statement by Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth for the second regional Government-Youth Dialogue for Central Asia and Afghanistan, convened by UNRCCA

ASHGABAT, 10 December 2020

Distinguished participants of the 2020 Government-Youth Dialogue for Central Asia and Afghanistan, it is my pleasure to address you all today on the very important topic of Youth, Peace and Security.

My name is Jayathma Wickramanayake and I am the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. I would like to start by thanking UNRCCA for creating this important event and interactive platform to allow meaningful dialogue between young people and Deputy Foreign Ministers from across Central Asia and Afghanistan. I would also like to congratulate UNRCCA on establishing the Young Ambassadors for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and Afghanistan programme, which aims to empower and meaningfully engage young people across the region.

As the Envoy on Youth, a core part of my mandate is to advocate for the rights of all young people to meaningfully participate in bringing about positive change. Youth participation is the cornerstone of the UN’s systemwide youth strategy, Youth 2030, of the UN Secretary-General. The strategy sets out five different thematic areas such as human rights, quality education, peace and security that the United Nations will focus on in the coming years, and it is my job to ensure that young people everywhere in all their diversity are included in every step of the way.

Youth-inclusive platforms like today’s dialogue are key to ensuring that young people have equal opportunities to participate. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impacts on young people, empowering youth while ensuring that their voices are heard is absolutely as important as ever.

The Youth, Peace and Security agenda, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this December, is an excellent example for how we can establish structures to better ensure young people’s meaningful participation in building and sustaining peace in their communities.

Young people are and have always been at the core of the peace and security agenda. They have shown resilience, courage and innovation to build and sustain peace in their communities.

During my missions around the world, I have been inspired to meet with young peacebuilders while learning from their peacebuilding experiences. I very much look forward to visiting other young peacebuilders in countries across your region in the future.

In a region like Central Asia, where half of the population is under the age of 29, it is critical that the international community continues to invest in areas important to young people and empower them.

It is my hope that my office can continue to support by building bridges between national, regional and global levels to create more opportunities for young people to participate and engage. Looking ahead to 2021, my office will continue to organize global advocacy initiatives, including events and campaigns specifically with this goal in mind.

For example, the annual ECOSOC Youth Forum will virtually bring together hundreds of young people and policy makers to discuss issues such as peace and security. My office will also be co-organizing a global conference on youth-inclusive peace processes in Doha, Qatar, next year which will be open to participation for 100 young people across the world.

I warmly encourage all young people to continue actively participating in dialogues like the one here, as well as in the upcoming global initiatives of the United Nations, including my office.

Young people across the globe hold the tools to build more peaceful and more resilient communities. And it is up to young people such as yourselves to decide how to use the core Youth, Peace and Security resolutions from the Security Council as tools to transform your communities.

I wish all of you productive discussions and look forward to following the outcomes of today’s event.

Thank you.