Statement by Mr.Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on youth, peace and security
We would like to thank today’s briefers for their very interesting opinions.
We are also grateful to Mr. Simpson for his preparation and presentation of the independent expert group’s study on the role of young people in processes related to ensuring peace and security. Its content and recommendations will definitely enrich the discussions of Member States in the United Nations forums to which this subject is directly relevant.
The study was requested by resolution 2250 (2015), adopted on 9 December 2015, which emphasized the important role that young people can and should play in building modern societies free of terrorism and extremism, including through constructive participation in the processes of building and maintaining peace.
There is no question that young people’s problems, however heartily we wish it were not so, cannot be viewed in isolation from the context of the fight against the threats of extremism and terrorism, to which young people, unfortunately, are likely to be more exposed than almost anyone.
A willingness on the part of some to look the other way where the activities of terrorist groups are concerned has already enabled them to threaten the future of entire countries whose societies have been plunged into social, political and economic chaos, something that is particularly evident in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And it is not just States in the Middle East that are under threat.
Young people, with their unformed world views, their quest for an identity, their lack of broad life experience and sometimes lack of education, are a highly vulnerable sector of society. Young people are among the first to feel the negative consequences of economic crises, social instability and armed clashes, factors that malefactors often exploit in order to involve them in illegal activity, including through social networks and other Internet channels.
This is not just about terrorism and the extremism that can lead to terrorism, but also about political processes dressed up with slogans about democracy, directed from outside and aimed at overthrowing legitimate authorities. Today’s much vaunted and trendy support for young leaders should not be used by outside actors to encourage anti-State and anti-Government movements in countries that they do not like.
It is immoral to try to achieve these ends by exploiting young people’s inexperience, desire for quick self-actualization and inclination to express themselves through protest. Young people are shamelessly deceived and used in dirty political games under plausible pretexts. The connivance or indifference that various States have shown to the growth of nationalism, xenophobia and radicalism — which, unfortunately, are very successful at pulling young people into their orbit — should not be tolerated.
What is needed in order to combat all these issues is thorough preventive, systematic effort, above all at the national level. It is the States’ job to prevent terrorists, radicals and political malefactors from influencing young people by nipping extremist propaganda in the bud and increasing young people’s resilience in the face of it. At the same time, it is crucial to use the Internet, and traditional media as well, to promote a positive agenda.
It is important to actively disseminate among young people — and with their help — notions of mutual respect and intercultural and interreligious dialogue, taking local traditions and specifics into account. This should not be politicized. Young people should be protected from political pressures until they reach legal age.
Secondly, we must to create the conditions that can enable young people to realize their potential and become socially and economically integrated into society, including by providing them with a quality education and employment opportunities. Creative pursuits, culture and sports are also effective tools to that end. They enable young people to participate in socially meaningful activities, help them improve their skills and talents, increase their self-confidence and self-esteem and inculcate them with the concept of peaceful coexistence.
Lastly, we should not the forget the importance of strengthening the family and family values. Many of the problems we have heard about today are the result of a neglect of those values, an excessive enthusiasm for individualism and the destruction of long-standing social foundations. Young people’s involvement in any political activity should be a natural process based primarily on acquiring professional knowledge and skills.
There should be genuine equality in this area, which means that not only should society’s most vulnerable sectors be supported but that no artificial quotas or privileges, including with regard to age or gender, should be tolerated. We believe it is important to tap constructively into young people’s potential — particularly their energy, versatility and ability to navigate cyberspace easily — by fostering, among other things, an atmosphere that does not tolerate violence and that rejects extremist and terrorist ideas. States affected by conflicts, where establishing the necessary youth policy programmes and strategies is very hard and sometimes impossible, for understandable reasons, are in a much more difficult position, needless to say.
The most urgent issue in such countries is protecting civilians, including young people, a task that is the responsibility of national Governments. In that regard, I want to point out that the international community’s efforts should be aimed at supporting national efforts in that area. It should undertake no response measures, especially any involving the use of force, without authorization from the Security Council and in strict adherence to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is also important to ensure that all parties to an armed conflict comply with their obligations under the norms of international law on the protection of civilians, including young people, as well as the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977. Thorough, objective investigations, based on reliable information, should be conducted for crimes involving deliberate attacks or the excessive use of force, and those responsible must be punished. Russia knows first-hand the importance of interactive cooperation with young people.
Indeed, it is difficult to overestimate the value of the fresh ideas that young people can share in exchange for the knowledge we provide them with. In 2014, the Russian Government adopted the foundational principles for the State’s youth policy for the next decade. The key principle of the concept is relying on young people as drivers of innovative development of the State, which in turn should create all the conditions for developing their human potential.
We must ensure comprehensive and continuous support to the younger generation in order to guarantee our society’s long-term development. International forums and events also play an important role in bringing young people together. In Sochi in October 2017 we were pleased to be able to host the nineteenth World Festival of Youth and Students, in which more than 20,000 people from more than 180 countries participated. Many interesting ideas were expressed during that event in the same spirit as those that we heard today from our young speakers.
We will definitely and actively take them into account in our efforts to support young people. I would like to conclude with a few important points. First, despite the importance of the subject of young people, our quest to identify the youth-related aspects of the acute problems that we have heard about today should not overshadow the importance of the work that adults are doing to solve some of them.
This should not be merely a formal approach or a competition to see who can find and propose the largest number of ways to involve young people. Not all the problems that we are facing can be solved that way, and no one is going to relieve us adults of the main responsibility for solving them.
I would also like to point out that despite the great importance of today’s discussion, it is also important to maintain the effectiveness of the United Nations and adhere to the division of powers of the organs of the Organization. In accordance with the Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Issues of war and peace, requiring urgent and sometimes immediate decisions, are discussed around this table every day.
Needless to say, the Council does not act in isolation. In every discussion we rely on the experience and expertise of specialists who are also working every day to develop crucial documents pertaining to their specializations. It would be much more effective to have an in-depth discussion in specialized United Nations platforms on such aspects of youth issues as education, employment, sustainable development and human rights. We must not create the illusion that bringing such youthrelated topics to the Security Council will lead to a breakthrough and enable us to resolve them more effectively.
We believe that the Council has neither the right nor sufficient expertise to usurp the right of S/PV.8241 Maintenance of international peace and security 23/04/2018 20/86 18-11894 the professionals to such discussion, and that general issues and topics that are not directly related to threats to international peace and security should be discussed substantively in international forums especially created for the purpose.
Whether we do or do not address a particular topic in the Security Council should not be a factor in determining its importance or urgency for the international community. Let us be more responsible in adhering to the existing division of labour.