The United Nations Population Fund Sri Lanka together with Search for Common Ground convened an event to launch a Road Map for the practical application of UN Security Council Resolution 2250, on Youth, Peace and Security. Sri Lanka thus became the first country to launch such a road map on UNSCR2250 subsequent to its unanimous adoption in December 2015. Officials from Government institutions, including the National Youth Services Council, UN agencies, INGOs, NGOs, leading youth organizations and youth peacebuilders from various parts of the country gathered at the UN in Colombo to discuss practical steps that could be taken to strengthen ongoing process toward having young people as integral part of the peacebuilding processes in the country.
Been the country to hold the first formal discussion on UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, Sri Lanka must move forward with concrete steps to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels providing ways to give youth a greater voice, said Saji Prelis, Co-Chair, Inter-Agency working group on Youth Participation in Peacebuilding and Director, Children and Youth Programmes of Search for Common Ground, He expressed these views addressing the seminar ‘Youth in Peace Building: UNSC Resolution Road Map for Sri Lanka' co-hosted by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Search for Common Ground (SFCG) on 25th August at UN Conference Room.
Introducing the seminar, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. / UNFPA Representative of Sri Lanka Alain Sibenaler said that the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on 9th December 2015 was timely as there are around 600 million young people currently living in fragile and conflict- affected regions. He pointed out, "The resolution urges member states to consider ways to give youth greater voice in decision making at local, national, regional and international levels and to set up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes and dispute resolution.
"Looking back at the history of Sri Lanka, we see that youth have been one of the most affected populations during the three decade conflict, which led to youth unrest in the south in 1971 and 1987 and in the north and east from the 1970s onwards. Almost seven years following the end of the war, we stand at a crucial juncture with the need to engage youth, who represent a quarter of the population, in peace building efforts at national level.
"In Sri Lanka, UNFPA is actively engaged in youth development and empowerment initiatives linking peace, demographic dividend and digital dividend. UNFPA's social change entrepreneurship programme, Generation to Generation dialogues at the national level and youth policy engagement at the Provincial (sub-national) level contribute towards empowering young men and women in peace building in the country," Sibenaler said.
Discussing the history of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250, Saji Prelis pointed out that the inspiration for the resolution on youth was the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women's role in peace building. "Sometimes back, it appeared idealistic to advocate a UN Security Council resolution on youth but it was made a reality by way of bringing people together to work for it. Six years ago, we established Inter-Agency Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding which consisted of UN Agencies, INGOs, youth organizations, Commonwealth, donors and academics.
"Global Forum for Youth, Peace and Security held in Amman, Jordan was a juncture on the road to resolution. Amman Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security was adopted on 22 August 2015. Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism was held in New York in September 2015 and Youth Action Agenda to Prevent Violent Extremism and Promote Peace was produced there."
Speaking further on the importance of resolution 2250, Saji Prelis said that partnerships and operationalization for sustainable efforts are crucial. "This must make a difference in the lives of the young people. We will fail and all these will be momentary if we cannot achieve it. This is not a project. This is a journey," Saji Prelis said.