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Peace: Helsinki, first international symposium on youth participation in mediation processes

These days Helsinki is hosting the first international symposium on youth participation in peace processes, under the auspices of the UN and the Finnish Government. “Let us say enough to the misconception that allowed the skills of young people in building and supporting peace to be undervalued and misunderstood”, said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, in her opening address at the conference today. The event brings together a hundred experts, mediators, researchers and opinion makers; the conference is an opportunity for sharing experiences of mediation and provides a space for reflection on “new ways of fostering young people’s participation in peace processes”. Half of the attendees are young people with first-hand experience of peace processes in conflict areas. Among the first speakers to take the floor are Farida Amiri from Afghans for Progressive Thinking; Gwendolyn Myers from Messengers for Peace-Liberia; and Leonardo Párraga from Colombia. The conference will end tomorrow, 6 March, with closing remarks by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, and by Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini. “Young people under the age of 30 account for over half of the world’s population. It is estimated that 600 million youth live in fragile and conflict-affected states”, the organisers explain. UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015) on Youth, Peace, and Security is the first ever resolution to recognize the positive role young people play in maintenance and promotion of peace and security. In 2018, a new resolution (2419) urged for the inclusive representation of young people.

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