I am so glad to see all these young faces today. Welcome to our virtual United Nations.
Thank you Mohamed for inviting me to address the fellows of this impressive project.
I would like to start by talking to you first about the importance of Youth in our work and the work of the United Nations in general.
Since the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic, almost all eyes were set on addressing its health aspects and of course for a good reason. Then gradually this global health crisis morphed into a global human crisis with vulnerable communities such women, old people, migrants and refugees, the disabled and homeless feeling the brunt of this pandemic.
Young people have been acutely impacted from lost jobs, family stress, mental health and marginalization. Then came the closure of schools and universities, museums, cultural centers, theaters, libraries and all forms of artistic and cultural expressions came to a halt all over the world.
Even before the crisis, young people were facing enormous challenges. One of every 5 young people was already not enrolled in any education nor have a job.
Many young men and women were already affected by violent conflicts , recruited by radical groups or sexually exploited.
We have also seen a declining trust between political institutions and the majority of people created a vacuum and fueled anger and despair that is easy to be exploited by radical and extremist groups. All this made too easy with the increasing use of social media and on line platforms during the lockdowns.
However, we believe that young people are not the problem , they are the solution when given the space to demonstrate their full potential.
This is what UNAOC is doing. Empowering youth and youth-led organizations from Africa and MENA region to South East Asia and Latin America that work on promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue to support building cohesive and resilient societies. On how we do this, you will learn more from my team in their presentations of our programming activities focusing on those relevant on interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
Last April, the UN Security Council marked the 5th Anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda anchored in the groundbreaking resolution 2250 in 2015. Members of the council encouraged steps to be taken to enable young people to play a role in building just, peaceful and inclusive societies (goal 16 of the SDGs) from prevention to mediation, humanitarian assistance to peacebuilding and post-conflict reconciliation.
At UNAOC, our fundamental understanding is that young women and men are the change-makers and trailblazers and the world community should invest more in youth as we chart our way to recovery. Youth can deliver when enabled as they did during the outbreak of the pandemic being among those in the frontlines in awareness campaigns and providing help for the elderly.
Now moving to the UN engagement with faith actors and faith based organizations during the pandemic. The UN Secretary General have always stressed that there is no alternative to an All-of-Society approach to this global human crisis which means that no one can do it alone. A well coordinated and results oriented approach is crucial between Governments and all stakeholders including civil society, youth, women, faith based organizations, media and the private sector so that we succeed in our response and recovery efforts.
In this context, the Secretary General appealed to religious leaders for solidarity and unity and to stand up against the rising wave of hate speech, stigma and xenophobia and to mobilize their communities to practice hygiene measures in places of worship.
We at UNAOC have expanded further the space for dialogue with religious leaders and faith actors across the faith spectrum throughout the past 4 months. We are working with more than 40 faith based organizations with the office of the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on developing a Global Pledge for Action by faith actors in addressing the challenges posed by COVID19 that is action and results oriented.
You will hear more about other actions in the presentations of my chief of cabinet and my political advisor.
I thank you and I hope that was useful.