Statement by Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council open VTC on Youth, Peace and Security

Statement by Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council open VTC on Youth, Peace and Security

Mr. President,

We appreciate the initiative to hold the open debate on the issue of youth, peace and security, including the role of young people in the COVID-19 outbreak response.

This year we mark the 5th anniversary of the Security Council resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, as well as celebrate the United Nations’ 75th anniversary. Appropriate observance of these milestones is now even more important than before due to the global pandemic. We consider that united and targeted response to COVID-19 would be incomplete without inclusion of representative of young people in this process.

The first report of the UN Secretary General on Youth, Peace and Security provided an analysis of the five pillars: participation, protection, prevention, disengagement and reintegration, and partnerships. We took note of this analysis and support the report’s findings on growing recognition of the role of youth in peace and security as well as on remaining core challenges for young people, including violation of their human rights. In this regard, we see further need to reinforce our actions to respond to youth aspirations for peace, justice and human rights.

We would like to assure that the Ukrainian Government is carefully studying the recommendations contained in this report and will consider them in the process of further adjustment of its national youth policy. Ukraine is committed to strengthen the potential of youth, creating equal opportunities and guaranteeing equal rights.

Going back to the SG report, we noticed that there is tangible progress in the youth, peace, and security agenda implementation with crucial involvement of key actors in this process, in particular representatives of civil society organizations and youth itself.

At the same time, it is too early to celebrate our success. Unfortunately, the most serious challenges for youth continue to impede positive changes even in the mentioned by SG five pillars. All regions of the world deserve a more peaceful and sustainable environment for youth, the environment that enables them to unleash their potential, creativity, and aspirations for a more prosperous future.

While witnessing some positive elements of the implementation of the agenda on the national level, we should not forget that the scale of problems and actions in response to different regions and states are incomparable.

The potential of young people in Africa is the driving force of collective prosperity, which is still to be revealed. Africa has the world’s youngest population and it is growing rapidly and is projected to represent of over 40% of the world’s young people in less than three generations. In past decades, we have seen advances in terms of policy commitments to youth development in Africa, both at national and regional levels.

The Africa’s Agenda 2063 underscores the importance of promoting rights of young people and meeting their needs, in all their diversity. At the same time too many young people are still jobless, and struggle to access public resources and quality social services. They remain uninvolved in policy formulation. Engaging young people is central to the successful implementation of the transformative agenda in Africa.

In Asia the largest generation of youth in history should ensure sustaining and improving upon the dramatic socioeconomic growth of the region. At the same time, the youth here still faces particular issues of engagement in education, employment and training.

Ukraine understands the need of creating and adopting an inclusive and integrated education policy that equitably supports and develops the diverse categories of young people in Africa and Asia. Therefore, having developed higher education system Ukraine provides wide opportunities for foreign students to receive qualitative education and get acquainted with European culture. During 2019-2020 educational year there more than 63 000 foreign students are receiving education in my country, originating mostly from Asia and Africa countries.

It is worth noting also, that in many countries with wars and occupation situations youth are under permanent threats and dangers. This situation is unacceptable and states concerned should end violations, ensure protection, and bring perpetrators to accountability.

This call is especially relevant when the new global pandemic exposed the gravity of problems and challenges. In this regard, we would like to recall for continued efforts to fight the COVID-19 threat, while ensuring the highest possible balance between the introduction of urgent exceptional measures to counter the threat and the respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, with a focus of attention on vulnerable populations, including youth.

Mr. President,

Youth traditionally has played an instrumental role in Ukraine’s political and public life. Back in October 1990 Ukrainian students conducted nonviolent public protests, which later forced the Soviet authorities to address the concerns of the Ukrainian youth, cemented the foundations of our emerging civil society and accelerated the disintegration of the USSR. It was the youth, who initiated the peaceful demonstrations in Kyiv in November 2013, protesting against the decision of the political leadership to put on hold Ukraine’s further integration with the European Union. After almost three months of the standoff a new Ukraine emerged.

Following the Russian military aggression against my country in 2014 and the resulting temporary occupation of Crimea and city of Sevastopol as well as certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the youth were among the first to face this threat and protect their motherland. Tens of thousands actively volunteered in providing support to our armed forces in the fight to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Youth and student organizations became equally active in delivering aid and humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the ensuing hostilities.

Six years have passed but a multitude of threats and challenges for youth in Ukraine continue to grow in the temporarily occupied territories. The occupying authorities engaged in massive campaign of human right violations including against young representatives, activists and human rights defenders. They seek to erase the Ukrainian national and cultural identity and identity of children and youth as citizens of Ukraine.

Another flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits Russia, as an Occupying Power, from forcing protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces, is plan to send almost 3,300 people for “military service” from the territory of the Crimean Peninsula. Most cynically, majority of them is expected to serve beyond the Crimean Peninsula, in particular in the Southern Military District, whose military units and command are directly involved in carrying out armed aggression against Ukraine in Donbas.

Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 became an additional concern for life and health of the population in the temporarily occupied territories. Therefore, we recall the obligation of the Russian Federation as an occupying State under international humanitarian law to take all necessary measures to protect life and health of the population of these territories, ensure and maintain in the occupied territory satisfactory healthcare and hygiene conditions and take the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.

Mr. President,

Taking into account that the mentioned report did not cover the negative impact of COVID-19 on youth in the long run as it already done by the Secretary-General regarding women and children, we would be grateful for preparation by the Secretary-General of a targeted policy brief with urgent measures to minimize the impact of this pandemic on youth. In our view, the special attention in this document should be given to youth effected by conflict and occupation amid the worsening epidemiological situation with the spread of the COVID-19 and its consequences.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight that by protecting youth and their rights we are investing in our future, development and progress. The environment, in which they live today, the possibilities we create for them to realize their potential, energy and creativity, will define their role in ensuring peace and security tomorrow. In this regard, I call for full and effective implementation of the youth and peace and security agenda.

I thank you.