In Brussels on 23-24th May 70 young peacebuilders from 56 countries across Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean came together to discuss steps the EU should take for the implementation of UN Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. The resolution recognises the positive role of young people in building peace and calls for the empowerment of young people through full inclusion in all areas of society in order to create sustainable peace.
Having committed to implementing Resolution 2250 at the inaugural meeting of Young Mediterranean Voices Plus, the EU High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini called on the EU “to include youth in our actions, policies and projects” and emphasised her aim to ‘empower’ young people to participate in policy as well as committing “to create space for various ideas to be heard” throughout the EU foreign and security policy.
Following the 2-day conference and in consultation with youth networks, Federica Mogherini said the EU would:
- Continue to create open spaces for young people to come together, build long-term relationships and directly engage the EU
- Expand this community with youth from Asia and Latin-America
- Work on translating some of the proposals put forward by young people into projects by the EU, or by partners governments or local authorities
- Promote funding for youth work at all levels and pilot a youth consultation on thematic and country-specific EU policies.
Participants highlighted the importance of youth being included in discussions on an equal footing, without instrumentalising young people, which risks further marginalisation. Progress has already been seen in this direction through the Africa Union – European Union ‘Youth Plug-in Initiative” following the Abidjan Youth Summit in October 2017, providing young people with the opportunity to learn from institutions and develop policy. Some of which has been discussed during recent AU-EU meetings.
The emphasis now falls on youth networks to ensure EU institutions and EU delegations follow-up on these commitments to open up channels of communication through direct dialogue on specific policies. Only by ensuring the voice of youth is heard within policy-making can we create and sustain peace.
Murray Hawthorne is a co-founding member of Young Mediterranean Voices Plus and an active campaigner for the Liberal Democrats in the UK. He is currently a member of IFLRY’s working policy group on the ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ and is studying Arabic and Politics (BA) at the University of Leeds.