Young peace-builders under the spotlight at Malta-led UN Security Council debate

Foreign affairs minister Ian Borg chairs debate on the role of youths in addressing security challenges in the Mediterranean

Foreign affairs minister Ian Borg chairing the special debate on youths in the Mediterranean (Photo: MFET)
Foreign affairs minister Ian Borg chairing the special debate on youths in the Mediterranean (Photo: MFET)

Young people should be invited to brief the UN Security Council more frequently, Foreign Affairs minister Ian Borg told council members on Wednesday at a debate on youths can help address security challenges.

As president of the Security Council in April, Malta held a special debate in New York on Wednesday to discuss how young persons can help address security challenges in the Mediterranean. Member states of the security council were invited to discuss the UN’s Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda, with particular focus on climate security.

“Young persons are leading positive change in peace and security in the Mediterranean,” Borg told member states. “The Security Council can do more to offer the space for young persons to come forward as a positive force for building peaceful and resilient societies.”

Foreign affairs minister Ian Borg addressing the UN security council (Photo: MFET)
Foreign affairs minister Ian Borg addressing the UN security council (Photo: MFET)

Borg said youth voices should be integrated at the UN, including the security council, in a systematic manner. “The Youth, Peace and Security agenda should be discussed more frequently around this table, and young briefers invited more frequently.”

Rosemary DiCarlo, the under-Secretary-General for political and peace-building affairs, said much more needs to be done to each the aspirations of youth in the Mediterranean.

She noted that youth make up 55% of the population in the south-east Mediterranean. Young people were at the forefront of the Arab Spring in 2011, but are now one of the primary victims of conflicts in the region, and are most likely to be targeted by violent and extremist networks for recruitment.

“The 7 October attack and the war in Gaza destroyed many young lives,” she said, noting that 70% of the population in Gaza is under 30 years old, “all exposed to unprecedented levels of trauma”.

She added that youths are “inheriting a world on fire”, noting record-breaking temperatures globally and specific risks faced by the Mediterranean region.

Nasser Kamel, the secretary-general of the Union for the Mediterranean, thanked Borg for facilitating this debate and praised Malta for being “a proponent for peace and stability in the Mediterranean”.

Kamel said the Mediterranean is an important cross-point between three continents, with the primary challenge faced in the region being climate change, among other issues.

However, Kamel said it is time to draw attention to the Mediterranean not just as a hotspot for challenges, but also a laboratory of solutions.

Sarra Messaoudi, the regional lead of the MENA coalition on Youth, Peace and Security, said there is space in the Mediterranean for creativity, resilience and peace.

“As youth from this region, we know where we come from,” she said. “As young people we’re exhausted. Enough is enough. We need to come together to face these struggles.”

She warned that civic space is under attack, but said young people are coming together so that they can collaborate and share resources, and provide a space for solidarity and support.

She added that young people are facing migration challenges at several levels. For example, many young people struggle to secure visas and permits, which prohibits them from participating in international fora. Apart from this, young people who attempt to cross the Mediterranean do not benefit from social protection systems.

“We want the Mediterranean to be a sea of hope and opportunity,” she said. “A sea of peace, not a sea of death.”