Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC debate on the role of young persons in addressing security challenges in the Mediterranean


We thank the briefers for their presentations.

Russia has consistently given high attention to issues of regional security. We understand the objective interest of Malta, as well as other states of the region, in discussing issues related to security in the Mediterranean. But frankly speaking, it is not entirely clear to us how the role of youth can be singled out from this broad and undoubtedly important topic, since there is a stable understanding at the international level that the security of the population is the responsibility of national governments. Their official representatives bear full responsibility for the decisions they take, both before their people and at the international level. For this, professional knowledge, experience and skills are crucial, and physical and mental maturity are a basic prerequisite.

Starting a political life should be a conscious and natural choice for young people once they become 18 years of age, as stated in UNSC Resolution 2250. Children should not be drawn into politics by depriving them of their childhood. Otherwise, there is a risk that young people fall prey to manipulation, which may present interests of certain political groups as the "vision of the young generation". One should be mindful of that when discussing the issue of increasing participation of young people and youth organizations in inter-state processes at the United Nations. We believe that attempts to give equal rights to NGOs (even youth NGOs) and representatives of states are counterproductive and undermine the intergovernmental nature of the UN.

When speaking of the role of the youth, it is crucial to focus not on the formal side of the issue, with quotas for young people in various processes, but on the real problems faced by this group of population. For example, poverty, unemployment and social exclusion hit young people the hardest, especially in developing countries.

Today we heard quite a lot about the devastating effects of climate change as almost the main cause of all problems and conflicts. This is a substitution of concepts. The Mediterranean is a fairly compact group of countries that are equally vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change. Droughts, floods, heat waves, forest fires happen everywhere. But do these disasters affect Mediterranean countries in the same way? Obviously, on the African coast, the impact is more devastating and requires longer recovery because of scarce resources for adaptation and mitigation. It is therefore important not to shift focus to climate agenda, but concentrate on the widespread eradication of poverty and the improvement of well-being, including of young people, in all countries of the region.


Let's call things by their proper names. Young people in the Global North and in the Global South have very different opportunities to realize their potential. A clear illustration of this is the Mediterranean, through which an existential rift is running. On one side, there is a prosperous Europe – "a blossoming garden" accoprding to J.Borrell – and on the other side there is a region that is shaken by conflict and internal instability (largely due to the intervention of the West) in which the population has to survive. Libya has not yet recovered from the devastating effects that  Western intervention had on its statehood. Syria and Iraq are forced to cope on their own, struggling with many socio-economic and humanitarian problems. Gaza is in flames.

Lots of young people on the southern shore of the Mediterranean rift that I have mentioned have been taken away their right to a prosperous future that is generally guaranteed to those born on the northern shore. They seek to overcome it by crossing the Mediterranean Sea at great risk to their lives, fleeing want and hopelessness, unemployment and a host of other problems – the legacy of Western colonizers.

The death rate of migrants trying to reach European shores by sea remains shockingly high. But those who succeed are not welcome at all. Suffice it to recall images of overcrowded refugee camps or hundreds of coffins on the Italian island of Lampedusa. We have repeatedly drawn attention to this catastrophic situation, but EU member states are unwilling to assume responsibility and take appropriate measures to ensure safe conditions for the arrival of migrants and refugees. The EU is still using forceful methods to prevent migrants from entering European countries. Just remember how desperately Poland fought off migrants in 2021, often literally shooting at people. Simply put, Europe has insulated itself in a "flowering garden" and does not want to see any strangers, especially those who come from the regions that it destroyed during its military undertakings or years of colonial and neocolonial exploitation, namely the Middle East and North Africa.

The best illustration of this is the "double standards" in EU countries with regard to refugees from Ukraine and the Global South. The former are unconditionally provided with an extended social package, while the latter are required to fulfill a number of criteria for integration into the local community, proving, among other things, their language skills. At the same time, many Ukrainian refugees – and this created a wave of outrage on social media – rented out their real estate at home, then fled from mobilization to Europe, where they did not hurry to integrate into the local communities, however regularly received social assistance from the host countries.

Of course, it is up for for European citizens to decide how the taxes they pay are going to be spent. But when talking about the role of young people and their potential, it is important to avoid hypocrisy and double standards, because the plight of young people in a number of Mediterranean countries is a consequence of the centuries-old policy of Western colonialism and recurrence of this phenomenon.


We see young people in various countries, having a keen sense of justice, who no longer want to accept the unipolar world order that was unjustly imposed on them. Being the most active, passionate part of the population, they are determined to take part in building a new, just world order based on the principle of cooperation, equality and mutual respect. In this context, promotion of dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations becomes crucial. General Assembly recognized that many times. The Security Council came to the same conclusion in its resolution 2686, adopted unanimously last year.

It is for this reason that much of Russia’s efforts in the area of youth policy are focused on developing people-to-people contacts, building trust and fostering a sense of brotherhood among representatives of different nations. In particular, the World Youth Festival, which took place in Sochi (Russia) in March this year and brought together 20,000 delegates from more than 180 countries, pursued exactly this goal. At numerous requests, the leadership of Russia decided to hold the Youth Festival on a regular basis.

Russia cooperates with many developing countries, including African countries, sharing expertise on youth-related issues. Our efforts focus on creating opportunities for education. Russian educational facilities annually host about one million students from various countries, including the Mediterranean region, and the famous Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University of Russia remains the flagship institution in this area.

As far as the UN is concerned, we are open to interaction with the Youth Office, and look forward to its revitalization within the established mandate.


In 10-15 years, those who make their first steps in political and diplomatic life today will be sitting in our chairs.

The future of our planet will depend on what opportunities we give them. So far, we have not been doing enough, getting carried away by secondary, albeit catchy, aspects and losing sight of systemic problems. Young people must be given an equal start, regardless of background or place of birth. The concepts of "flowering garden" and "jungle" are not conducive to this. We can change this deplorable situation only if the snobbery of the "golden billion" is overcome. We fully support this. So the choice is yours.

Thank you.

Video of the statement