The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the United Nations together with civil society representatives will hold the First International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes on 5–6 March.
Approximately a hundred specialists, mediators, researchers and opinion-makers will gather in Helsinki to share their experiences of mediation, to strengthen their networks and to consider new ways of fostering young people’s participation in peace processes. Half of the attendees will be youth with first-hand experience of peace processes in conflict-affected areas. Finland’s active input in mediation shows in that the event will be held in Helsinki.
The conference will be co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini and the Foreign Minister’s Special Representative on Mediation Jutta Urpilainen, together with Colombia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Holmes Trujillo and Qatar’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi.
President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Laura Londén, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco will also attend the meeting.
“Young people account for a considerable share of people living in the developing world and in conflict areas but they are often left outside of the scope of all decision-making in society, including peace processes. Mediation is one of Finland’s foreign policy priorities and the conference in March offers a concrete opportunity for Finland to promote young people’s inclusion in peace processes. From the point of view of effective and sustainable peace processes, comprehensive inclusion is of utmost importance. Sustainable peace requires youth’s active participation and we all must support them. It is wrong to consider young people only as victims of conflicts or perpetrators of violence,” Minister Soini says.
The conference can be followed online
Certain sections of the conference will be webcast live at https://formin.videosync.fi/youth-participation-in-peace-processes
Opening addresses will be held on 5 March at 9.00–10.30. The opening discussion will be participated by the Finnish, Colombian and Qatari Ministers, UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Chief Executive Officer of Search for Common Ground Shamil Idriss, Farida Amiri from Afghans for Progressive Thinking and Gwendolyn Myers from Messengers for Peace-Liberia. The discussion moderator will be United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will address the conference in a video message.
President of the United Nations General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa will speak in the plenary session on Wednesday 6 March at 15.15. This will be followed by a panel discussion attended by African Union Youth Envoy Aya Chebbi, UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, René van Nes from the European External Action Service (EEAS) PRISM Division, and Rebecca Hovhannisyan from UNOY Peacebuilders & Armenian Gyumri Youth Initiative Centre. The panel discussion will be moderated by Hajer Sharief, who represents a Libyan organisation Together We Build It.
The event will end on 6 March at 17.15–18.00 with closing remarks by President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Foreign Minister Timo Soini, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Laura Londén, Lama Drebati from Mobaderoon and Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake.
To follow the event on Twitter, use #Youth2030 and #Youth4Peace.
The initiative came from youth organisations
In 2011, Finnish youth organisations submitted an initiative to the UN on a resolution that would strengthen young people’s role. The first ever thematic resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (resolution 2250) was adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2015 and a second (resolution 2419) in June 2018. These resolutions can be regarded a significant achievement in that they recognise young people’s positive role in conflicts and in post-conflict situations.
Youth, Peace and Security resolutions have also political weight because they obligate UN Member States to implement the documents at national level. In spring 2018, Finland was the first country in the world to launch a consultation process on the preparation of a national action plan. The work is led by the 2250 network.