Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the UN Security Council Meeting "Implementing the youth, peace and security agenda"
We thank Special Envoy for Youth, Ms. Wickramanayake and other briefers for their assessments.
We fully share the opinions that have been presented today about the need to pay due attention to the topic of youth in the United Nations system and to solve pressing problems related to socialization of young people – the things Ms.Wickramanayake successfully deals with. We all have to help her. But here is the question: Do we help Ms.Wickramanayake by discussing this topic at the Security Council for the third time already? According to its mandate, the UN Security Council should address issues of international peace and security. Considering topics that do not have to do with this can hardly improve the efficacy of this body and have any added value for solving youth-related issues.
At the same time we understand and recognize the importance of including youth-related issues in discussions of some country-specific topics on the Security Council agenda, in particular taking into account the specifics of African States, where young people constitute the majority of the population. A famous German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said: “The fate of any nation at any time depends on opinions of its young people – those under 25 years of age”. However discussing these issues without any regard to the context can only distract the Council from solving the urgent issues it is supposed to address. What looks especially strange is the choice to discuss such general matters against the backdrop of rejecting topics that are of immediate concern for the Council.
Probably, now someone will try to convince everybody that the youth agenda is not a priority for Russia, however this is not so. We take active steps at the national level in the area of interaction with young people. In 2014 the Government of Russia adopted fundaments of State policy regarding affairs of the youth until 2025 that are implemented at the federal, regional and municipal levels. The key task of this strategy is to create basic conditions for full-fledged self-fulfillment and integration of young people in social and political landscape, improvement of the social and economic situation of the young people.
We fully support the development of youth-based civil society, attach great importance to holding relevant workshops and fora both on national and international scale that makes it possible to strenghten peaceful and constructive potential of the youth. In particular, in October 2017 we were happy to host the19th World Festival of Youth in Sochi that brought together over 20,000 participants from more than 180 States. We also advocate encouraging peaceful youth organizations and development of cross-cultural and cross-religious dialogue among the young population.
The important role that the young people are supposed to play in the modern society, i.a. by means of constructive participation in peacebuilding and peacekeeping is reflected in Security Council resolutions 2250 and 2419.
An independent survey held by Mr. Simpson gave us additional food for thought in terms of the role of the youth in efforts to prevent and settle conflicts; it also emphasized the importance of promoting the positive image of the young people.
We believe that practical implications behind these conclusions are the need for the States that are amidst a conflict to pay due attention to combatting poverty, illiteracy and unemployment that are the basic impediments for unraveling the potential of the youth.
Let me cite as an example the situation in Palestine, in particular, in Gaza Strip, where the unemployment among young people is approaching the 50% threshold. Against such background and given stagnating Middle Eastern settlement, favorable environment emerges for the spread of extremist ideas and radicalization of the society.
If we still prefer to consider the topic of youth in the context of the Security Council agenda and with due account for its mandate, then we should focus on challenges of extremism and terrorism.
There is no doubt that people of all ages might be susceptible to these phenomena, however it is the young people with their world view still under formation, with their search for their true “self” who are the most vulnerable in the face of radical ideology.
This factor, alongside with lack of life experience, education or any prospects for self-fulfillment in countries with unfavorable social and economic environment, or conflict situations that young people might find themselves in - this is what extremist groups skillfully use to drag the youth into unlawful activity.
When attempting to win the sympathy of young people, extremists increasingly often turn to information and communication technologies. It makes it imperative for us to enhance collective efforts in the area of international information security. Regional organizations that have access to the required country-specific expertise play an important role in countering radicalization of the youth. We commend the fruitful work at this track of OSCE, CSTO and SCO.
What asks for our specific attention is the phenomenon of engaging the radically inclined youth to achieve internal political goals. I am now talking about processes that are managed from the outside and that are aimed to topple the legitimate authority under the banners of democracy and human rights. It is vital that the proclaimed support for young leaders should not result in external players organizing anti-governmental movements in States they do not favor. Unfortunately, such situations are far too frequent.
In conclusion let me once again highlight that we by no means diminish the relevance of the youth agenda. We are convinced that in-depth discussion of youth-related issues at the specialized UN platforms is very valuable. I mean platforms designed for discussing the issues of education, employment, sustainable development and other vital matters. The most comprehensive roadmap in the area of youth policy is the World Programme of Action for Youth, separate aspects of which are considered in the framework of the General Assembly, the ECOSOC and their specialized auxiliary bodies.
We believe that whether the topic is or is not raised at the Security Council should not become the criterion of its relevance for the global community. It is far more important to stick to the existing “division of labor” within the UN system. This is something both the Security Council and the young people will benefit from.