The United Nations, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, has stated that young people are an asset rather than being a problem.She stated this while presenting the report on the findings of the independent progress study on “Youth, Peace and Security” to the Security Council.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had while delivering a keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London last week disclosed that many Nigerian youths want everything free without doing anything.
Wickramanayake stated that report pointed to two key issues that needed immediate attention.
She said the first was the growing mistrust from young generations towards formal political institutions, while the other issue is the exclusion of young people from political, civic and economic life.
The study also showed that only a small minority of youth ever engaged in violence while many were actively engaging in their own local initiatives to bring peace to their communities.
According to the Envoy, “I believe we can all agree that my generation represents promise – not peril.
“We should be seen as an asset, not a problem,’’ she told Council members.
The envoy said the report’s findings and recommendations were an opportunity for the Council to redress the mistrust between young people, their government and the multilateral system.
This, she said, could be achieved by opening up new paths for meaningful participation and contribution.
Wickramanayake said tapping the potential and creativity of young people was indispensable to prevent conflict and build peace.
She urged governments to create conditions that allow their meaningful participation in civic and political lives.
The envoy underlined three critical areas – supporting youth’s peace efforts; prioritising their political participation; and partnering with them.
“I will not ask you to let young people lead as they are already leading. “But they need inclusive, safe spaces and enabling environments to succeed. “Recognise their work, fund it, scale it up and protect it,” she said, and called for dispelling misconceptions surrounding youth, citing studies that illustrated only a small minority of young people ever engage in violence.
Yet, Wickramanayake added, they face suspicions and undue restrictions, including when it comes to travelling across borders.
The envoy added that many had difficulties in obtaining travel permits. She also called on all concerned to fully engage young people in electoral processes, political party structures and not to consider them “too young to run” for public office.