GALLE: The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on Thursday regretted that the youth of the world are routinely recruited to fight wars but are not co-opted in peace building and reconciliation processes.
Speaking to a conclave of Sri Lankan youth at Galle in South Sri Lanka, Ban appealed to them to appreciate “unity and diversity” and work for post-war ethnic and religious reconciliation.
“I have been trying to put right one of the most serious injustices: the exclusion of young people from peace building and reconciliation processes. Why should young people be sent off to fight wars, but be prevented from building peace?” Ban asked.
Efforts To Correct Flaw
On a three day visit to Sri Lanka with his wife, Ban said that to correct the flaw in 2013, he had appointed the first-ever UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, who was just 28 years old. Last month, on International Youth Day on 12 August, he appointed the former Austrian Prime Minister, Werner Faymann, as his Special Envoy on Youth Employment.
The United Nations Security Council recognized adopted Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security in December 2015 . The Resolution offers a new policy framework to engage young people as part of inclusive, participatory peace building and reconciliation approaches. It recognizes the role of young people as peace builders and agents of change who can break down barriers and reach across cultural divides ,Ban said.
Young people also played a critical role in designing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda agreed by world leaders one year ago. They participated in unprecedented numbers in the online consultation that drove the design. This agenda, with seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, is our global plan for people, peace, prosperity and the planet, Ban added.
Appeal To Sri Lankan Youth
Turning to Sri Lankan youth, the Secretary General said: “Most of you were born and lived your early lives during conflict, terror and displacement. Many of you suffered deprivations and injustice. Involvement in peace building, reconciliation and post-conflict transformation would provide an opportunity to emerge from this trauma and play a part in creating a better future.”
“Young people around the world are often depicted as potential terrorists and easy prey for recruitment by violent extremists. But this distorted picture ignores the reality that the vast majority of young people want to be part of the solution to violent extremism.”
“Here and around the world, young people long for peace and security, and are among the most ardent proponents of human rights.”
Ban urged Sri Lankan youth to work together with young people from different neighbourhoods, ethnic groups or religions and their vision for a sustainable and peaceful future for the country.
Thevuni Kavindi, Example To Follow
He appealed to them to take inspiration from Thevuni Kavindi, a Sri Lankan youth he had appointed to his Advisory Group on Youth, Peace and Security on International Youth Day this year.
“Thevuni is 23 years old, and is playing a leading role in the youth movement that is working to unite young people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds across Sri Lanka to promote reconciliation and lasting peace. The world needs young leaders like Thevuni – young leaders like you – to remind us of our common purpose now and in the future, as we face conflict, violence, inequality and injustice in many places.”
Thevuni coordinates and implements activities of reconciliation centers in Mulaithivu, Kamburupitiya and Akkaraipattu and initiates and implements strategies.
Finally, Ban told the youth: “ Please continue to prove that Sri Lanka is emerging from decades of adversity, suspicion and divisiveness. Please lead the way towards rebuilding, reconciliation and an appreciation of diversity in unity.”