On 9 December 2015, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2250, the first resolution specifically addressing the role of young people in peace and security issues. It is an important milestone in recognising the positive role that young people can play in conflict and post-conflict situations. But what exactly does this resolution say? Why is a Security Council resolution on youth, peace and security important?
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 is a thematic resolution dealing with youth (defined as 18-29 years old in the document) from an international peace and security perspective. It contains a set of guidelines on the basis of which policies and programmes are to be developed by member states, the UN and civil society. This global policy guide examines the impact of conflict on young people's lives, what needs to be done to mitigate the effects and how young people can be meaningfully involved to create peaceful communities. For this reason, the Resolution is considered a landmark international policy framework that focuses not only on the devastating impact of armed conflict on youth, but also on the critical role that youth play in conflict resolution and the establishment of peace processes.
In 2018, the first progress study on "Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security" was published. From the point of view of the young people surveyed, the themes of youth and peace and security cannot be separated from the "Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development". From a human rights perspective, young people occupy a grey area between the rights and protection of children and the rights and political claims they should enjoy as young adults - but often do not have. This gap in the realisation of rights must be closed by recognising young people as legal entities. Accordingly, Horyzon gives priority to these issues in its programmes, especially in Colombia and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Stereotypes are used for instrumentalisation
According to the study, the stigmatisation and marginalisation of young people is widespread. This can be seen in the negative stereotypes about "young men as perpetrators of violence". Young men are indeed the main perpetrators of various forms of violence. But these stereotypes are often built up by governments and political and other leaders with the aim of exploiting young people for their own purposes. This can be observed, for example, in Palestine, where many former prisoners are celebrated as heroes. This stigmatisation is also transferred to the legislative level, where political measures denigrate or suppress the legitimate participation of young people in political processes, social movements, peaceful protest and the expression of differences of opinion.
Young people lose confidence in institutions
Young people describe their experiences of exclusion as a form of structural and psychological violence inextricably linked to their political, social, cultural and economic disempowerment. Young people have also repeatedly raised two important and related frustrations in the study: their exclusion from meaningful civic and political participation and their distrust of corrupt governance, which lacks the will and ability to address youth exclusion. In response, many young people have withdrawn from politics, electoral systems and other institutions. This development was clearly reflected in the presidential elections in Colombia this year. The turnout across all age groups, at 53%, was higher than ever before, partly due to the end of the armed conflict. Among young people, however, voter turnout was only 40%. A survey of Colombian youths showed that 60% have no confidence in democratic institutions. 70% of respondents think that the government and politicians* are not interested in their opinions.
The study concludes with various recommendations, some of which are also relevant for Horyzon and can be incorporated into further work. It is extremely important to invest in the skills and competences of young people. In addition, obstacles must be removed that limit the participation of young people in peace and security. More attention must be paid to the contributions of civil society organisations run by young people and these organisations must be promoted accordingly. Efforts must be made to ensure that youth, peace and security programmes are developed, implemented, monitored and evaluated by young people themselves.