Youth are essential to strengthening security, conclude participants at side event during OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg
HAMBURG, Germany, 8 December 2016 - Youth participation and youth mainstreaming in security were in focus at a side event co-organized today on the margins of the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain and the OSCE Chairmanship’s three Special Representatives on Youth and Security. Taking part were many youth activists from civil society and OSCE youth focal points.
“Youth is key to fighting violent extremism, promoting tolerance and diversity,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain, Alfonso Dastis Quecedo. He announced that a conference on youth and security will take place in May 2017 in Málaga.
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said: “We must invest in youth if we are serious about countering extremism.” He acknowledged the support of Spain in seconding a Youth and Security Focal Point to the OSCE’s Secretariat in Vienna over the coming two years and commended the continuous engagement of the OSCE Chairmanship’s Special Representatives on Youth and Security.
Secretary-General for the Foreign Affairs of Austria, Michael Linhart, highlighted that youth should be involved in decision-making and reaffirmed that youth will be a priority area for work during Austria’s OSCE Chairmanship next year.
Samia Hatroubi, a young French-Tunisian activist, reflected on the need to empower young people in order to make them agents of change for today’s challenges. She called for a change of paradigm and advocated for regarding youth as part of the solution rather than a threat.
Ambassador Jonathan Moore, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, highlighted that youth are the future and the present. “They deal with the realities of the world we are living and are in the best position to identify the vulnerabilities that others may overlook,” said Moore. He advised against talking about youth without youth present.
Rebecca Smith, a member of the European Youth Parliament, talked about education and the importance of having spaces like the European Youth Parliament in which dialogue with and for youth are possible.
The OSCE Chairmanship’s three Special Representatives - Anna-Katharina Deininger, Paul Steiner and Milena Stošić - agreed that in recent years a variety of initiatives have been launched within OSCE activities to empower youth throughout its varying structures. Young men and women have repeatedly raised their voices on security issues affecting them and their peers, from intolerance and violent extremism, from inclusion to political participation. In order to build a bridge between intentions and implementation, the Special Representatives called for the doubling of efforts to further youth participation and to establish a regular dialogue on and with youth.
Over the course of this year, the German Chairmanship has promoted exchange and dialogue among young people from the entire OSCE region. A series of outreach events included amongst others a major youth forum in Vienna and Belgrade, a number of discussion events with public figures and policymakers in Germany and a final youth conference in Berlin.