Remarks by the High Representative for UNAOC at
“IF WAR IS A CHOICE, PEACE CAN BE TOO”
A Side Event on Young Leaders’ Contribution to Peace and Security
5 December 2023, United Nations, New York
Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations,
Maritza Chan, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations,
Daphné Le Son, Deputy Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations,
Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations,
Franco Vaccari, President and Founder, Rondine – Cittadella della Pace,
I am very pleased to join you again , this time at HQ.
I was privileged to be introduced to the amazing work of Rondine twice : Virtually in 2022 and then in person in June this year when I participated in the You Topic Festival in Rondine.
Today’s focus is on Young Leaders’ Contribution to Peace and Security.
A timely theme because two weeks ago, my team concluded 2 remarkable events involving youth whose work has contributed to peace-building and in preventing violent extremism .
The first event was a Youth Forum which took place in Accra, Ghana. The Forum focused on the role of young people in the upcoming 13th African Games, a continental multi-sport event held every four years. The two-day event was organized by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), within the framework of the United Nations Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Sports Programme”), in collaboration with the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) and the 13th African Games Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
Twenty youth leaders from 19 countries across Africa, as well as officials and representatives from United Nations entities, the AUSC, the 13th African Games LOC, the African Union Youth Division, the Ghana National Peace Council, and the National Youth Authority came together to discuss the power of sports and major sporting events to prevent violent extremism (PVE).
The event served as a platform to amplify the voices of young people, acknowledging that the current youth generation is considered the largest in history, and that their diverse perspectives can significantly contribute to promoting peace and addressing the root causes of violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
The Accra forum was the 4th to be delivered under the Global Sports Program. Earlier forums included the MENA Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport (2022) in Rabat, Morocco; the Global Youth Forum on PVE through Sport in Fez, Morocco (2022); and the ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport in Bangkok, Thailand (2022).
The second event concluded last week in Cordoba, Spain.
Through the Young Peacebuilders program, an education initiative funded by Agencia Extremeña de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AEXCID), the initiatives of 19 talented and dedicated young leaders to promote peace, respect for diversity, and mutual understanding in their respective communities in Latin America and the Caribbean were brought to the spotlight at a one-day symposium in Córdoba, Spain.
The young peacebuilders showcased their achievements, reflected on lessons learned, and presented recommendations based on their experiences as participants of the sixth edition of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Young Peacebuilders programme.
The symposium was the culmination of the programme for the participants, where they presented their peace initiatives, which focused on one of the three themes — peace education; violence prevention and conflict resolution; and inclusive societies and peacebuilding.
Today, later in the program we will be introducing to you Youssef Aroog from Egypt, founder of the Mediterranean Youth Foundation for Development whose hometown in North Sinai was impacted by the 2014 terrorists attacks so he decided to work towards confronting religious intolerance and preventing violent extremism by promoting dialogue and human fraternity.
In retrospect of the aforementioned, there is a clear alignment between Rondine’s “Leaders for Peace “ initiative and our work.
Peace is one of the main pillars and objectives of the United Nations.
Peace is often an elusive goal, but only if we let it out of our sight.
And indeed peace is a choice as much as war is a choice.
Considering the current where people are suffering under raging wars, emerging and new conflicts, the world needs sustainable peace one that withstands the crises of our times.
We need to invest more in peace to prevent conflicts.
We need to invest more in a global citizenship education that raises awareness about shared human values of empathy, mutual respect and fundamental human rights.
We need to invest more in empowering young people.
Prevention and peacebuilding are at the core of the Secretary General’s New Agenda for Peace.
Furthermore, the Our Common Agenda Policy Brief titled, ‘Meaningful Youth Engagement in Policymaking and Decision-making Processes , recognized the paramount role of young people in rethinking and reshaping future paradigms and reiterated the UN’s strategies and commitments for meaningful youth engagement in all aspects of the Organization’s work.
Concluding , young people should not be “the missing piece”, they should be the centerpiece of our efforts.
I look forward to continue our joint efforts towards that end.
I thank you.