Welcome to the United Nations

DiCarlo: "Creating political space for youth to meaningfully engage in peace and security initiatives is key"



“The role of young persons in addressing security challenges in the Mediterranean” 

New York, 17 April 2024 


Mister President,  

I would like to thank Malta for convening this debate today.  

In 2015, this Council adopted resolution 2250, which acknowledged the importance of youth in prevention and peacebuilding.  

The resolution urged Member States to increase youth representation in decision-making processes at all levels.  

As we approach the tenth anniversary of this groundbreaking text, today’s debate is a timely reminder that advancing meaningful youth participation must remain a priority for all of us. 

The potential and opportunity for renewal that young people represent – as well as the vulnerabilities that can often affect them disproportionately – means that they must be part of the broader discussions shaping our societies.  

Yet, so much more needs to be done to meet the aspirations of the region’s youth, including by empowering them to participate in the decisions that can affect both their present and their future. 

Mister President,  

Today’s discussion is focused on the Mediterranean region, and with good reason. 

In the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, young people constitute 55 per cent of the population.  

We recall the wave of demonstrations that swept across the region in 2011. Youth were at the forefront of these movements, protesting disenfranchisement and the lack of economic opportunity and employment.  

We also witnessed how violent and extremist networks exploited such grievances to lure young people into their ranks.  

Young people also make up most of those embarking on the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean, fleeing conflict and poverty in search of a better life.  

Mister President, 

It is estimated that one out of four young people around the world is affected by violence or armed conflict.  The young, especially women, are more vulnerable to neglect, abuse, and exploitation. Young people are more likely to be recruited by armed groups when they have no other livelihood opportunities.  

Additionally, estimates also suggests that more than 90% of all direct conflict deaths occur among young adult males.  

Exposure to conflict at a young age creates well documented mental-health and psychosocial impacts that persist into adulthood.  

These grim facts and figures are borne out in the unfolding calamity in one part of the Mediterranean. The 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas and the war in Gaza has destroyed many young lives.  

Seventy per cent of the population in Gaza is under 30. Almost all have been exposed to unprecedented levels of trauma, violence, disease, and food insecurity. All schools across the Gaza Strip are closed, impacting more than 625,000 students. 

Mister President, 

The impact of war and violence on youth is well known. What is still not sufficiently recognized is the many ways young people – with their energy, innovative ideas and creativity - can make the search for peace more sustainable and effective.  

We have witnessed this spirit of innovation in our special political missions where we have increasingly deployed new technologies to organize digital consultations with youth. From Libya to Lebanon, these dialogues have helped us better understand their views and aspirations, and to reflect them in our work. 

Creating political space for youth to meaningfully engage in peace and security initiatives is key. For example, last September, our mission in Libya launched the “Training Future Leaders of Libya” initiative.  

Thirty young Libyan women will develop their skills in human rights, as well as legislation and policies to promote women’s participation and to counter hate speech. In February, the programme brought these young women to the European Parliament, where they discussed the impact of conflict on youth. 

Mister President,  

Young people are inheriting a planet on fire. One statistic encapsulates our dire situation: last month was the hottest March ever recorded. The previous nine months also set records.  

The Mediterranean is particularly vulnerable to climate change, warming at a rate 20 per cent faster than the global average. Massive floods, devastating storms and long droughts threaten livelihoods, health, water and food security across the region. 

The World Bank predicts that up to 19 million people would become internal climate migrants in North Africa alone by 2050 without concrete climate action.  

In addition to facing these risks, youth are also expected to be most vulnerable to climate change related health hazards due to prolonged exposure during their lifetime. 

Youth continue to take on a leading role in influencing, advocating, and demanding greater political will and concrete action on climate change.  

This has been clear in their strong messages at the various COP meetings. Young women are often at the forefront of these movements, advocating for a gender lens at all stages of policy and decision-making related to climate risks.  

In Cyprus, for example, our Good Offices Mission has helped young people across the divide to unite around shared concerns over environmental sustainability and to prepare joint positions for COP28 last December. 

Mister President,  

As documented in the Secretary-General’s report on youth, peace and security, negative stereotypes of youth as agents of unrest and violence continue to contribute to their marginalization and stigmatization.  

To strengthen the role of youth as positive agents of change, regional and multilateral actions are essential. 

In his policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General strongly advocates for active youth participation in decision-making processes. The United Nations is intensifying its efforts in this regard.  

UNDP’s flagship report on Human Mobility reminds us that by accessing training, education and economic opportunities in other societies, young people, especially women, can be agents of change by bringing new experiences, skills and wealth back to their home countries. 

Further, my Department’s Youth, Peace and Security Strategy builds on the Youth Promotion Initiative of the Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund. It remains the only international financing mechanism dedicated to the implementation of the agenda.  

The Fund has invested $128 million (US dollars) in 97 projects in support of youth inclusion across more than 30 countries since 2016.  

But we will need more adequate, predictable, and sustained funding to translate youth inclusion from a political commitment to tangible practice. 

Regional organizations have a key role to play. In this regard, we welcome the League of Arab States recent endorsement of its first Youth, Peace and Security strategy.  

I also commend the Union for the Mediterranean for its Youth 2030 Strategy and its efforts to support work opportunities for youth in the Southern Mediterranean.    

Mister President,  

Investing in youth is investing in peace.  

The work of this Council is critical in this regard.  

In his third report on the implementation of Resolution 2250, the Secretary-General noted that the number of young briefers to the Security Council had decreased in the past two years.  

Meaningful youth engagement can start in this Chamber. I urge the Council to create more opportunities for young briefers and to continue to champion the youth, peace and security agenda, which is critical for the Mediterranean region and beyond.    

Thank you, Mister President.