UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday calling for increased representation of young people in efforts to prevent conflict and negotiations to end fighting and implement peace agreements.
The resolution, sponsored by Sweden and Peru, warns that marginalizing young men and women "is detrimental to building sustainable peace and countering violent extremism."
It expresses concern that terrorists and their supporters are increasingly using the internet to recruit and incite young people "to commit terrorist acts," and it urges the 193 U.N. member states to cooperate "to prevent terrorists from exploiting technology, communications and resources."
The resolution recognizes "the role of youth in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance, intercultural and interreligious dialogue that aims at discouraging their participation in acts of violence, terrorism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination."
And it also recognizes the important role youth can play in peacebuilding efforts and sustaining peace.
The resolution on Youth, Peace and Security is a follow-up to a resolution adopted in December 2015 which cited the rise of radicalization among young people. It urged U.N. member states to consider ways to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels.
Both resolutions define youth as young men and women aged 18 to 29.
Sweden's U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog recalled in introducing Wednesday's resolution that this is the 50th anniversary of 1968 — a year that heralded the voice of a new generation that engaged in protests, demonstrations and sit-ins, "challenging elites and changing the status quo."
"Since then, new generations of youth can and will herald change," he said.
Sweden's U.N. Mission said the world is currently experiencing its largest ever youth generation, with an estimated 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24 alive today.
Skoog said the power of youth must be harnessed to build peace across the world.
Peru's U.N. Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra said "the international community must maximize and harness the potential, the commitment and the resilience of young people to prevent and withstand conflicts."
Skoog ended his remarks quoting from Robert F. Kennedy, a former U.S. senator and attorney general and brother of assassinated U.S. president John F. Kennedy. He noted that Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's assassination, minutes after he won the California Democratic primary for president.
"This world demands the qualities of youth," Kennedy said in a speech at the University of Cape Town on June 6, 1966, "not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease."
Skoog said: "We must never seek to quell these qualities of youth, either in the next generation of leaders or in ourselves."