Chair, distinguished delegates,
It’s an honour to be here today and to speak to you as youth on behalf of Norway.
As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world has never seen a larger youth population. Yet, young people’s potential is hindered by violations of their fundamental rights every single day.
More than 400 million young people live in areas affected by conflict, forcing many to flee from their homes.
Climate change and conflict are key drivers of the rise in world hunger, causing pressure on food security. Multiple forms of malnutrition coexist, affecting children and young people the most. Addressing food insecurity and malnutrition cannot be “business as usual,” but requires a holistic and conflict-sensitive approach for sustaining peace.
Child early and forced marriages are a growing danger for girls living in conflict areas and refugee communities. Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. This amounts to 23 girls every minute – nearly 1 every 2 seconds. By empowering girls through realizing their rights to health, education and equal opportunity, all member states can ensure that young girls become champions of change in their own communities.
Half of the world’s young people who do not go to school, live in areas affected by conflict. Schools are systematically shut down, depriving young people access to education and making them more vulnerable to violence, and armed groups’ recruitment. Therefore, we call on all member states to protect schools from being used as a strategic target in conflict.
Young people are targeted by groups waging war and using violent, extremist tactics. The extent and depth of trauma they suffer at the hands of armed groups threatens to create a lost generation. Often seen as a source of conflict, young people today have never been more dynamic and engaged, showcasing their potential as much more than a victim of conflict.
Resolutions 2250 and 2419 have for the first time put youth’s participation in issues of peace and security on the international agenda. Seen as a problem and a potential risk factor, children and youth are now recognized as positive and important changemakers in conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes.
Yet, this new narrative of children and youth is not recognized in all processes and decisions, highlighting a sense of conflict for many young people’s life across the world.
Of all children born each year, 1.7% are born with sex traits that do not fit typical definitions of male and female. Intersex people are often subject to irreversible surgery without the opportunity to make an informed decision. Therefore, we call on member states to put an end to such interventions, to realize intersex people’s rights to physical integrity, health, privacy and autonomy.
All people, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided by law, including respect of rights to life, security of person and privacy, and the right to be free from discrimination. We urge all member states to enable LGBTIQ people to exercise the same human rights as all people and to report regularly on the status of their rights.
Young people’s participation in public life is frequently restricted, depriving them from meaningful participation in decisions and processes that have profound implications of their own future. Therefore, we urge all member states to invest in youth, enabling them to participate and have their voice heard in politics and decision-making.
Chair, distinguished delegates, member states,
Today, we recognize young people as a source of peace, rather than conflict. It is time to make young people part of the solution, enabling them to shape a better future for all.