In times of crisis and unrest, international cooperation is more important than ever. We are honored to be representing the youth of our country, in the high seat of international cooperation.
Children and youth in Ukraine used to dream of finishing school and getting the job they always wanted. Now, Russia’s war is making the very same children fight for democracy and the most fundamental human rights. Children are robbed of their childhood, their right to education and their freedom. The youth of Norway condemn the Russian invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine.
War and conflict have always been and will always be poison. It poisons the roots of societies. It spreads throughout generations and across borders.
If we are to rid ourselves of the poison, we must learn from history. Education is the antidote. Children should be sent to school, not to war!
As a global society we need to commit to ensuring that all children and youth, no matter their prepositions, have access to education. Education is the key to creating just and peaceful societies. Children and youth, including those with disabilities and those living in poverty are especially prone to losing their right to education, and so are girls.
Furthermore, we need to recognize and commit to protecting those who are in especially vulnerable situations. Women, children, migrants, people living in poverty, those with disabilities and LGBTI communities are at even more risk in fragile states and states affected by conflict, every day.
While I am able to speak in this room, the voices of millions of children and young people around the world are silenced. Many of my fellow youth are denied the right to speak up and fight for their convictions, be who they want to be, name themselves what they want, love who they want and wear what they want.
Youth in conflicts are often portrayed as either victims or perpetrators. But youth can play a key role in the resolution of conflict. I believe that if you give youth a chance to contribute, they will take responsibility and become advocates for peace. Youth need to be included in all stages of peace building. Doing this, we ensure the human rights and freedoms of youth and we ensure sustainable and lasting peace.
Our generation inherits a world facing many challenges. The climate crisis is accute and an existential threat. Many countries experience democratic setbacks. Women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTI persons have their rights restricted.
Freedom of expression, association and religion is under pressure, including the freedom not to believe. Today, youth risk persecution for their belief, their change of belief or their non-belief.
On behalf of Norwegian children and youth, we call upon the international society to take action. We need to ensure that the world we build is a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Youth want to contribute - we want to be agents for positive change. But we need our communities, our cities, our countries and last, but not least, the United Nations to listen to us.
When my generation looks toward the future, we no longer look toward a future with peace, freedom and prosperity for all of mankind. Yet, even in the darkest of times, we must remind each other that there will always be hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a future where all children can grow up, without the terror of bombs waking them up in the morning, without the worry of their freedom being ripped away, without the fear of the earth that they love being destroyed.
Let us work together, across countries and across generations. We need this to give us hope.