With 40% of the world’s population under the age of 25, UN Disarmament Chief Izumi Nakamitsu said on Thursday that the international community has a special responsibility to ensure that young people can share their perspectives and concerns about existential threats to current and future generations.
Her remarks were made in a video message delivered to a special session of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to commemorate International Youth Day.
She stated that, as in all other global domains, inclusivity is required to achieve the ultimate goals of disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control, as well as the effectiveness and long-term viability of the agreements reached and the work done.
Ms Nakamitsu went on to say that there has been a “paradigm shift” in recent years considering the importance of young people in maintaining peace and security.
The Secretary-General recognises the enormous power of young people in bringing about change in the world, the critical role they play in successful campaigns, and the new and innovative ways in which they interact, organise and mobilise to advance bold solutions for the future in his disarmament agenda.
The UN General Assembly and Security Council have both enacted resolutions on youth participation in disarmament and nonproliferation activities, as well as peace and security.
Ms Nakamitsu stated that the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), which she leads, has undertaken efforts to engage, educate, and empower young people.
The UN Youth Champions for Disarmament, a group of ten activists from around the world and from various backgrounds who help to raise awareness and support change for a more peaceful world, has been a significant programme.
According to Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Youth Envoy, the dedicated session of the Conference on Disarmament was “a remarkable step towards engaging and equipping the leaders of future.”
The current generation of young people is the largest in history, with 1.8 billion individuals living in developing countries.
Ms Wickramanayake urged countries to establish venues for young people to contribute to defining the world’s common destiny.
According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, young people are always finding new ways to organise and advocate bolder solutions.
Innovation and imagination have paved the way for our collective peace and security, and they will continue to do so. It is therefore critical that we develop their creativity and unique potential.