UNSCR: 2535: Unpacking the latest UN Security Council Resolution on YPS

UNSCR: 2535: Unpacking the latest UN Security Council Resolution on YPS

On July 14th, 2020, the United Nations unanimously passed UNSCR 2535, an international policy framework advocating for greater youth participation in peacebuilding processes and humanitarian responses. To help unpack this resolution and its implications for youth-led peacebuilding, on July 25th CSP in collaboration with Peacemaker360 organized a live-streamed panel discussion with three young peacebuilders, Mridul Upadhyay(Asia Coordinator of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders-UNOY), Leonardo Parraga( Director of Bogot’Art in Colombia), and Shadi Shahbaz (Director of Peace Mentors in Iran). Panelists first gave an overview of the historical trajectory of this resolution highlighting similarities and differences with the previous two resolutions, namely UNSCR 2250 and UNSCR 2419. While UNSCR 2535 builds on previous resolutions in terms of advancing a progressive language for greater inclusion of youth in peacebuilding processes, some of the most important policy and operational concerns it addresses include:  

  • The recognition of youth agency in humanitarian responses, particularly during and beyond the Covid19 global pandemic; 
  • The need for the UN system to appoint a youth focal point that will specifically address needs and challenges facing the implementation of the YPS agenda by youth peacebuilders; 
  • Direct youth participation in the planning and implementation of peacebuilding processes; 
  • The designation of a UN Fund to support youth-led peacebuilding initiatives;
  • Increased reporting on the Youth Peace and Security by UN agencies; 
  • The protection of civic and political spaces of young people; 

While the resolution is another critical milestone in advancing the YPS agenda, panelists and online participants also discussed critical questions that this and previous resolutions face. First, is how to operationalize this policy framework knowing that previous resolutions still grapple with the same systemic challenges of youth exclusion in decision-making processes(particularly women), shrinking civic space, limited funding, to name a few? While on the one hand panelists acknowledged these obstacles as pertinent they also pondered on the relevance of a more holistic approach with multi-stakeholders working together to advance the implementation of this resolution and the previous two. Second, another important concern raised was the short-time between these resolutions. UNSCR 2250 was passed in 2015, UNSCR 2419 in 2018, and UNSCR 2535 in 2020. This speedy advance of the YPS both demonstrates the growing momentum and interest (on paper) of policymakers in youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes but also raises several questions on the degree of their implementation. As underscored by the Missing Peace and We Are Here reports, among other challenges a wide distrust gap between policymakers and youth peacebuilders in country-contexts remains a huge obstacle for the YPS agenda. In this sense, while UNSCR 2535 deepens and advances the commitment of policymakers to address these challenges, panelists recognized that it will take more than just a commitment but accountability to bridge the trust deficit between youth and policymakers. Panelists emphasized the need for more reporting by the UN on the in-country implementation and to keep governments accountable for their commitment to the YPS agenda. Lastly, panelists showed concern with the decreasing number of youth consultations leading to this resolution. In the words of one Mridul, “ it only took about two and a half months to put forward resolution 2535. We need to keep in mind in the larger perspective that young people need to have ownership and need to entirely lead this entire agenda.” 

Despite these areas of weakness, in the context of the ongoing global pandemic, UNSCR 2535 is the first international policy framework to acknowledge the role of youth in responding to humanitarian needs. Understanding that more and more youth peacebuilders are currently working at the intersection of public health and peacebuilding, while not perfect if supported by all stakeholders, UNSCR 2535 especially holds the potential to bridge the trust gap between policymakers and youth in addressing the most pressing humanitarian challenge of our time: Covid19.

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