Date: November 27th 2018
Moderator: Elin Lilijenbladh, Folk och Försvar
Speakers: Dejan Bojanic, Vice-president, European Youth Forum. Joel Linnainmäki, Specialist on International Advocacy, Allianssi (The Youth Council of Finland). Ville Andersson, Counsellor at Embassy of Finland in Stockholm. Emelie Weski, Vice-president, LSU (The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations).
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Since the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security back in 2015, the agenda has gradually taken shape globally and regionally. The term ‘youth, peace and security’ has been explored in an increasing number of security policy discussions and youth participation have been highlighted as an important part of global peace building.
During the summer of 2018, resolution 2419 was adopted under Swedish and Peruvian leadership in the Security Council, which further underline the importance of a continued focus on youth, peace and security and instructs the UN Secretariat to report on the implementation of the resolutions.
In 2018 the independent UN progress study “The Missing Peace” was published which emphasised young people’s contribution to peace building and conflict prevention. Throughout the different UN processes, young persons and youth organisations have advocated for an increased role and recognition in security and defense policy. Through the adoptions of the resolutions the UN Security Council acknowledged the significance of youth participation in defense and security policy.
In Sweden, Sida and the Folke Bernadotte Academy have been given the task of highlighting young people’s participation in peace building and conflict prevention. Consequently, actions to promote and support the implementation of the resolutions on youth, peace and security are developing within the framework of the Sustainable Peace Strategy.
Folk och Försvar invited the European Youth Forum, Allianssi, the Finnish Embassy to Stockholm and LSU, to discuss what effects the resolutions have on peace and security policy in a national, regional and global context.
The underlying question to be answered during the seminar was why youth need to be included in peace and security issues. Dejan Bojanic from the European Youth Forum empathised that seeing that most parts of Europe are peaceful the agenda must take another path than in a conflict setting and in what fora’s youth need to be included. In this youth and youth organisations have a big part to play in prevention and peace building. In addition, he argued that it is not just about the lack of conflict that constitute sustained peace, but peace building is to build a strong society, entailing inclusive education and accessible healthcare.
Joel Linnainmäki from Allianssi highlighted that in many countries globally, much of the population consists of young people. Therefore, there can be no sustainable solutions to peace and security issues unless young people are included in the decision-making processes. Young people are also the ones that will implement the long-term solutions on peace and security issues.
Emilie Weski from LSU agreed and underlined that since the youth population globally has never been this large young people will play a big role, in both enabling further conflict or enabling peace.
Another question raised was why it is so important that the resolutions were adopted by the UN Security Council and nitby, for example, the UN General Assembly. Bojanic emphasized that it’s been hard to get attention from the European Union when it comes to the youth, peace and security agenda and believes the UN Security Council adoption of the resolutions have sparked attention from the EU, and that they now need to acknowledge the issue.
Weski underlined that the UN Security Council adopted resolutions are important because they allow a way to measure State actions in the areas affected by the resolutions. Weski underlines that the follow-up resolution and the reporting requirement makes it harder for to shy away from responsibility, even though there are no directives on what to measure.
The Finnish representatives were invited to share their working methods and perspectives on the youth, peace and security agenda. Finland are one of the champions of the youth, peace and security agenda globally. The Finnish government initiated a process for creating an action plan in 2018 for implementing resolutions 2250 and 2419 together with the Finnish youth movement. Linnainmäki underlined how youth organizations are leading the process and are gathering perspectives through focus groups, but also internet forms to reach a broader audience and get demographic dissemination in the answers.
Ville Andersson from the Embassy of Finland in Stockholm believe that the resolutions are needed, and that inclusion is a key element in the creation of sustainable wellbeing. Andersson advised youth organisations to link issues to the security aspect of the resolutions, since peace and security issues are genuinely getting more attention than “softer” issues. This because security is a core function of States, and stressing the security aspect of the youth, peace and security agenda is therefore a more effective way to make States implement the resolutions.
An important question posed during the seminar had to do with what the effect of the resolutions has been. Bojanic emphasized that the adoption of resolution 2250 and 2419 are important as young people are often portraited as the cause of problems, promoters of violence or responsible for extremism. These stereotypes must be broken to be able to move forward in a progressive manner, and the resolutions help recognise young persons and youth representatives as a relevant group in security and defence issues.
Weski stressed that the space for young people and youth organisations to act are shrinking. Youth activists for peace are being jailed and young people speaking out against for example gun violence are not taken seriously and their agency diminished as acting like proxy’s for other interests rather than their own. What the resolutions does, according to Weski, is that they are widening the space for young people to act and get engaged for peace. It also enhances the development of peace culture and counter extremist violence. Most importantly Weski argued for that the purpose of the resolutions is not to make young people peacebuilders, but to recognize the work they are already doing and get decision makers to take them in to account in policy making.
Hanna Tuvelius, Praktikant