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At meeting on nuclear disarmament, Warning issued of ‘dangerous return’ to Cold War mentalities

INTERNATIONAL – Progress in working towards global nuclear non-proliferation has stalled and the trend towards “nuclear zero” is reversing, United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon warned today as he called on Member States to urgently ramp up efforts in tackling nuclear disarmament.

“Eliminating nuclear weapons is a top priority for the United Nations,” said Mr. Ban inremarksdelivered on his behalf by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson to the opening plenary meeting of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) earlier this morning. “No other weapon has the potential to inflict such wanton destruction on our world.”

However, the Secretary-General added, instead of progress towards new arms reduction agreements, “we have allegations of destabilizing violations of existing agreements.”

He noted that the danger posed by nuclear weapons continued to persist since the last NPT Review Conference, including with respect to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and cautioned of the growing series of setbacks the Treaty was facing.

“Instead of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in force or a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, we see expensive modernization programmes that will entrench nuclear weapons for decades to come. Instead of pursuing proposals to accelerate nuclear disarmament, including my Five Point Plan, there has been a dangerous return to Cold War mentalities,” Mr. Ban continued in the remarks. “This reversal is a regression for our world.”

In a separatestatement, Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), echoed Mr. Ban’s apprehension regarding nuclear proliferation claiming he was “seriously concerned” about the DPRK’s nuclear programme and declaring that his agency remained unable to conclude that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Nevertheless, he said, efforts to render the Middle East free of nuclear weapons continued amid some optimism following a recent forum held on the issue. The ‘Forum on Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East,’ he explained, had shown that it was possible “to have constructive dialogue on the establishment if a nuclear-weapon-free zone in this region, despite the complexity of the issue and differences of view among States concerned.”

At the same time, Mr. Amano did note that the IAEA’s wide-ranging functions – from monitoring nuclear safety to assisting the UN’s Ebola response – were being successfully carried out around the world.

“The IAEA is working very hard to fulfil its very broad mandate,” Mr. Amano concluded. “The challenges are considerable, but I am confident that we can continue to address them successfully with the support of all our Member States.”

The2015 Review Conferencewill run at UN Headquarters in New York through 22 May. The President-designate of the Conference is Ambassador Taous Feroukhi from Algeria.

The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.

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New sustainability agenda must harmonize man’s relationship with planet – Assembly President says

INTERNATIONAL – As United Nations Member States prepare to adopt and move toward implementing a new development agenda, the President of the General Assembly said it is critical to ensure that “a harmonious relationship with our planet underpins our quest to achieve sustainable development.”

“This year’s dialogue on Harmony with Nature is timely, as the formulation of an ambitious and transformative development agenda for the next 15 years is under way,” said General Assembly President Sam Kahamba Kutesa as he opened the Assembly’s interactive dialogue on ‘Harmony with Nature: Towards achieving sustainable development goals including addressing climate change in the post-2015 development agenda.’

The development path the world has taken has imposed a heavy cost on our planet, leading to serious environmental degradation, he said, underscoring that “it is now widely accepted that our way of life, especially the production and consumption patterns, is no longer sustainable.”

“As scientists have repeatedly warned, we are severely affecting the Earth’s carrying capacity and are in danger of reaching planetary boundaries or tipping points beyond which we risk irreversible and abrupt environmental changes,” hesaid.

“We have to adopt a post-2015 development agenda that is holistic in nature,” Mr. Kutesa continued. “The agenda should put the well-being of both humankind and our planet at the centre of our sustainable development efforts.”

He drew attention to the need to reach a new, universal climate change agreement this coming December in Paris that will be another important step for ensuring a better chance of preserving the planet for the present and future generations.

“Through these efforts, we should bear in mind that profound changes in attitudes, behaviours and policies will be required to create a world in which human beings live in harmony with nature.”

Mr. Kutesa acknowledged the increasing awareness and proactive stances being taken by leaders around the world to address the environmental challenges we face.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “much more needs to be done in terms of policy making, technology development and transfer as well as education and capacity building.”

The General Assembly President opened the meeting with a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of those who lost their lives in this weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal and surrounding regions including Bangladesh, India and Tibet.

“On behalf of Member States, I extend my deepest sympathies to the people and Government of Nepal, and all others affected by this disaster,” he said. “I thank all those that have offered their support following this disaster and call on the international community to stand in solidarity with the Government of Nepal following this devastating earthquake.”

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New platform aims to bring pastoralists’ voices to global decision-making stage

INTERNATIONAL – Millions of pastoralists – from the Bedouin of North Africa to the Sherpa in Nepal and Navajo in North America – will benefit from a new online knowledge hub launched today by the United Nations that will help them raise their voices in international policy debates and share valuable information to strengthen their agricultural livelihoods.

Launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its partners, thePastoralist Knowledge Hubwill enable mobile livestock keepers to connect, to meet and discuss issues like agricultural innovations or land regulations and find shared solutions to common challenges, the agency said in apress release.

The online tool also offers a growing database of research on pastoralism, contacts for a worldwide network of pastoral representatives, and discussion forums for pastoralist networks and partnering institutions. It will aim to fill the gaps identified over the past years, especially the lack of global policy discussions on pastoralism and the need to bring attention to the challenges faced by pastoral communities.

“Pastoralists are able to produce food where no crops can be grown. Yet, their concerns are poorly heard by the international community,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Helena Semedo. "This hub is an important platform to help them project their voices, share knowledge, and affect policy debates.”

The new hub also includes a mechanism that lets pastoral communities nominate and select representatives to global forums such as the Committee on World Food Security, according to FAO.

Examples of well-known pastoral societies include the Bedouin of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the Maasai in East Africa, the Navajo of North America, the Sherpa in Nepal, and Scandinavia's Sami people.

The several hundred million pastoralists who manage the world’s rangelands rely on a rich legacy of traditional knowledge and mobility to survive in the harshest environments on the planet. They remain important producers of livestock, meat, milk, hair and hides and in many countries produce more than half of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP).

The new hub brings together partner institutions including the African Union, the European Union, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank and non-governmental organizations, as well as pastoralist civil society groups.

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Alternative policy agenda unveiled to transform economies, make gender equality a reality

INTERNATIONAL – A major new report released today in seven locations around the world by the United Nations entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment (UN Women) calls for the transformation of economies to make women’s rights and equality a reality.

The UN Women report,Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, brings together human rights and economic policymaking to call for far-reaching changes to the global policy agenda and imagines what the global economy would look like if it truly worked for women, for the benefit of all.

“Our public resources are not flowing in the directions where they are most needed,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “For example, to provide safe water and sanitation, quality health care, and decent child- and elderly-care services. Where there are no public services, the deficit is borne by women and girls.”

The report’s publication comes as the international community negotiates a transformative new agenda for sustainable development, 20 years after the landmarkFourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, which set out an ambitious agenda to advance gender equality. Despite significant advances in many societies, particularly in advancing women’s legal rights, millions of women remain consigned to low paid, poor quality jobs, and lack access to health care, clean water and sanitation.

Only half of women participate in the formal global labour force, compared to three quarters of men, with some developing regions showing 95 per cent of women’s employment informal. That includes unpaid care work, for which women carry the burden, and which has intensified thanks to austerity policies and cutbacks.

“This is a care penalty that unfairly punishes women for stepping in when the State does not provide resources,”saidMs. Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We need policies that make it possible for both women and men to care for their loved ones without having to forego their own economic security and independence.”

The report makes the case that the alternative economic agenda it outlines would not only create fairer societies, it would also create new sectors of employment, for instance in the care economy.

“The report is very much focused on picturing an economy that in working for women does so through providing them a recognition and valuing of the paid and unpaid care work that they do,” said Lakshmi Puri, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, in aninterviewwithUN Radio.

The report makes 10 key recommendations for actions that Governments and others can take to move towards an economy that truly works for women, dismantling a system in which they are paid on average 24 per cent less than men globally.

An economy designed with women’s needs in mind would give them an equal voice in economic decision-making; from the way in which time and money are spent in their households, to the ways in which resources are raised and allocated at the national level, to how broader economic parameters are set by global institutions.

The report sets out a vision of a global economy fit for women, where they have equal access to productive resources and social protection, which provides them with sufficient income to support an adequate standard of living, and where the work they do is respected and valued.

It calls for a paradigm shift in the way governments, financial institutions, businesses and civil society approach economic policy thinking and human rights, to bring about an alternative economic agenda which places women and their rights at its centre.

“Realizing economic and social rights of women enables the transformation of economies and it also enables empowering of all, including men and boys,” said Ms. Puri. “When we ask for the economies to be transformed, it cannot be governance as usual business as usual. The corporate sector must change. It cannot be labour markets as usual.”

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Marking anniversary of Chernobyl disaster, Global community reiterates commitment to those affected

INTERNATIONAL – In a message to mark the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon 26 April remembered the hundreds of emergency workers who responded to the accident and the more than 330,000 people uprooted from their homes in its aftermath.

“We stand in solidarity with the millions who have been traumatized by lingering fears about their health and livelihoods,” saida statementissued by Mr. Ban's Spokesperson. “After nearly three decades, the affected areas in Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation are still suffering from the impact of the accident. However, we can take heart that communities in the affected regions now have a chance and, increasingly, the means, to lead a normal life.”

He drew attention to the fact that the UN proclaimed 2006-2016 a 'Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development' for regions affected by the disaster, and established a UN Action Plan on Chernobyl, all in an effort to advance socio-economic development, promote healthy lifestyles and restore a sense of community self-reliance.

The Decade and Action Plan come to an end on 31 December 2016 and, in response, the UN Development Programme Administrator and the UN Co-ordinator of International Cooperation on Chernobyl initiated a series of consultations to define the vision for post-2016 international cooperation, providing substantive inputs to the new Secretary-General's Report on Chernobyl and a General Assembly resolution on Chernobyl.

“On this solemn anniversary, the Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support those affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” said the statement. “He calls for a forward-looking strategy designed to further help the recovery of the affected areas and to work together for greater nuclear safety worldwide.”

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International Community responds to destruction, displacement in wake of Nepal earthquake

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations relief wing said that at least 2,200 people have died (Ed. Death toll continues to climb) and over 5,800 are injured as a result of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday.

The figures, released by the Nepalese Government Ministry of Home Affairs' National Emergency Operation Center, and included in the latestsituation reportreleased by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today are the latest available and are expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue and the total number of people affected by the disaster is determined.

“Time is of the essence for the search and rescue operations,” said Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, “The actions of the Government of Nepal and local communities themselves have already saved many lives. Teams from India, Pakistan, China and Israel have started work, and more are on their way from the US, the UK, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union and elsewhere.”

The situation report says that 35 of the 75 districts in Nepal are reported to be affected by the earthquake, with the most affected districts being Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Ramechhap.

Ms. Amos said UN agencies were working with humanitarian partners in Nepal, supporting the Government and other partners. The World Food Programme (WFP) was providing food items, The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) was sending tents and healthcare supplies and the World Health Organization (WHO) had distributed medical supplies to cover the immediate needs of 40,000 people.

She added that a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team was on the ground helping to coordinate response effort, adding that the Organization would continue supporting the people of Nepal in the weeks and months ahead. People affected by the earthquake are in need of food, water, emergency shelter and healthcare, with many having slept in the open in makeshift tents for two nights.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the earthquake, as well as nearly 60 aftershocks that followed, caused “vast devastation across much of the country,” adding that at least 940,000 children live in areas severely affected by the quake and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance

In a report on the agency's website, UNICEF stressed the heightened vulnerability of children when access to safe water and sanitation was limited and said children may have become separated from their families.

The report said staff and supplies were mobilizing to meet urgent humanitarian needs, with a focus on water and sanitation, nutrition, education and child protection. Two cargo flights, with a combined 120 tonnes of humanitarian supplies including medical and hospital supplies, tents and blankets, were being readied for urgent airlift to Kathmandu.

Martin Sajdik, the President of the Economic and Social Council, expressed his sadness at the loss of life and sent his condolences to all those affected by the disaster.

“The full scope of the disaster is not yet known but we all know that its cost goes well beyond the damage to property and has immense economic and social impact on Nepali society,” he said. “As a “least developed country”, Nepal can ill afford these setbacks on its path to sustainable development.”

He stressed that the tragedy in Nepal underlined the need to make disaster risk reduction a critical component of the post-2015 development agenda and to improve mitigation efforts to minimize the impact of such disasters.

“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted recently at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, stressed that: 'It is urgent and critical to anticipate, plan for and reduce disaster risk in order to more effectively protect persons, communities and countries,'” he said.

He said priorities were assessing the damage, delivering urgently humanitarian assistance and ensuring that development gains are not lost, and he called on the international community as a whole to come to Nepal's aid and focus on long-term recovery.

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Mali: Ban voices concern over series of targeted attacks against UN mission and personnel

INTERNATIONAL –Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon has voiced deep concern over a series of attacks targeting the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) which have resulted in numerous casualties, a statement issued by a UN spokesperson said on 24 April.

According to the UN, seven peacekeepers were wounded on 23 April in Mali's north-eastern Kidal region when a MINUSMA vehicle struck an explosive device. The incident was preceded by two separate attacks – on 17 and 20 April – involving unidentified armed men killing the drivers of MINUSMA-contracted trucks outside the city of Gao.

And, on 15 April, a suicide vehicle detonated at the entrance to the MINUSMA camp in the town of Ansongo injuring nine peacekeepers.

“Attacks against civilians and UN peacekeepers constitute a serious violation of international law,” said the Secretary-General's statement, which also added Mr. Ban's appeal that those responsible for the attacks be brought to justice.

“This series of attacks highlights the urgency of finding a political settlement and re-establishing security in the north of Mali,” it added.

In the statement, the Secretary-General also expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families of the deceased and the Government of Mali while wishing a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.

In addition, Mr. Ban expressed his “profound gratitude” to the brave peacekeepers serving in Mali's war-torn region and to the troop-contributing countries.

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Mediterranean crisis: UN welcomes EU measures on migrants, urges more comprehensive action

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations refugee agency welcomed the European Union's (EU) mobilization of resources in response to the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, while also urging increased efforts aimed at saving lives and integrating asylum seekers in accordance with human rights.

Briefing reporters in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), applauded the EU's tripling of funding for joint sea rescue operations following the maritime tragedy that claimed the lives of hundreds of migrants late last week.

“We appreciated the assurance given at the [Brussels] summit press conference [on Thursday] that this will mean an operation with similar capacity, resources, and scope to the Mare Nostrum operation,” Mr. Edwardssaid, referring to the Italian sea rescue operation begun in 2013 and which concluded last year.

“We look forward to working closely with the EU and its Member States in building on some of the measures that have been announced.”

Italy's 'Mare Nostrum,' a major search and rescue programme aimed at saving migrants in the Mediterranean, was replaced in December by the European Union's current 'Triton' operation amid an uptick in sea crossings in the region. Under 'Mare Nostrum,' 150,000 migrants were reportedly saved before it transitioned into its “less effective” substitute, according to UNHCR.

Meanwhile, 2015 has already seen some 40,000 people make crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. UNHCR has reported that numbers have also been recently picking up as weather conditions in the Mediterranean improve.

Mr. Edwards, however, noted that addressing the migrant crisis did not stop with the boosting of at-sea rescue operations as the Mediterranean boat crossings were not purely a migrant phenomenon but a refugee one as well.

“For refugees fleeing war, there has to be some alternative to having to cross the Mediterranean in smugglers boats,” he continued. “We know that without realistic and substantial alternative channels for people to reach safety, the much-needed increase in international efforts to crack down on smugglers and traffickers is unlikely to be effective.”

The UN refugee agency has long been advocating for a comprehensive and urgent response from the European Union and has shared specific proposals including the establishment of a possible scheme to compensate shipping companies involved in rescuing people at sea, increasing credible legal alternatives to dangerous voyages and a pilot relocation programme for Syrians refugees arriving in Italy and Greece.

The UNHCR spokesperson voiced hope that the new EU measures announced this week, including a 10-point plan of action, would be “an important first step” towards a trans-national approach in confronting the migrant crisis.

At the same time, he warned that there needed to be “further elaboration” of what the new measures would mean for resettlement and relocation and the facilitating of access to international protection in Europe through other legal channels.

“Ultimately, the test will be whether we see a reduction in lives lost, effective access to protection in Europe without having to cross the Mediterranean, and an effective Common European Asylum System, which truly lives up to its commitments of solidarity and responsibility sharing,” Mr. Edwards declared. “UNHCR is stepping up our own response to this crisis. And we stand ready to work collaboratively with our European partners.”

Against that backdrop, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and François Crepeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, expressed concern that the EU's response focused “overwhelmingly” on the securitization of borders and increasing “the repression of survival migration.”

“The decision to strengthen the capacity of transit countries to stop irregular migration on their territory, without offering long-term solutions and without adequate human rights guarantees, will only compound the abuse of migrants,” they said in astatementtoday.

“The question remains: what happens once those lives are rightfully saved? What will be done about the lack of proper individual assessments of one's protection needs, about the inadequate reception facilities and poor conditions for those rescued, about the lack of an agreed refugee resettlement policy, and about the forced returns of irregular migrants, which could also include potential victims of trafficking.”

The two UN experts called on the EU to “move beyond emergency mode” and on to pilot projects involving more comprehensive and innovative regulated avenues of mobility, including the establishment of a resettlement policy.

“Europe must bank on mobility across the Mediterranean and within its territory as a dynamic factor of economic and social development,” they concluded. “Only then will it be able to truly reclaim the control of its borders from criminal smuggling rings.”

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UNICEF welcomes final release of child soldiers by armed group in South Sudan

INTERNATIONAL – Militants in South Sudan have handed over to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) a final group of 283 children in what the agency described as “a small piece of good news in what is otherwise a terrible situation for children in other parts of [the country],” where many boys and girls have been abducted and forcibly recruited as child soldiers.

The release of 282 boys and one girl by the so-called 'Cobra Faction' took place in Labrab, a village in a remote corner of Jonglei state in South Sudan, bringing to 1,757 the number of children who have been released by the militant group this year.

During the release ceremony, the children handed in their weapons and uniforms in exchange for civilian clothes. The boys and the one girl will stay at the interim care centre where they will receive food, shelter, medical and psychosocial support until their families are traced and they can return home.

“It is the last chapter in a series of releases that have taken place since January and follows a peace agreement between the faction and the Government of South Sudan,” UNICEF said in apress releaseissued today in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF's South Sudan Representative, said: “We are very pleased to have seen this process through and that the final group of children has been released from the Cobra Faction.”

“But the work is far from over,” he continued. “These children must be reunited with their families and they must begin the long and difficult road towards rebuilding their lives.”

“UNICEF is extremely concerned about the welfare of children recently recruited around Malakal in Upper Nile state, given the recent upsurge in fighting in the area, the UNICEF representative said. “We again call for the immediate release of these children and we continue to stand ready to provide all necessary support for their demobilization,” he said.

The reintegration programme, which includes ongoing psychosocial support, costs an estimated $2,580 per child. UNICEF faces a funding shortfall of $11 million for the programme.

The conflict that began in December 2013 in South Sudan continues to affect the lives of millions of people. It has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. The major humanitarian consequences are widespread displacement due to the violence; high rates of death, disease, and injuries, severe food insecurity and disrupted livelihoods, and a major malnutrition crisis.

Some 5.8 million people are estimated to be in some degree of food insecurity as of September 2014. This number is projected to increase to 6.4 million during the first quarter of 2015. The people in need for the coming year include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced people and a projected 293,000 refugees. Within South Sudan, the most acute needs are found in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile, the three states that have seen the most active hostilities.

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‘Youth represent promise – not peril,’ Security Council told in debate on countering extremism

INTERNATIONAL – Involving youth in peacebuilding processes the world over is essential to lasting global stability and stemming the growth of radicalism,Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon declared in remarks delivered to a Security Council session devoted to the role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace.

“The role of youth lies at the heart of international peace and security,” affirmed the Secretary-General as headdressedthe 15-member Council. “We have to encourage young people to take up the causes of peace, diversity, and mutual respect. Youth represent promise – not peril.”

The challenge, Mr. Ban added, is to now realize “the enormous potential” of the world’s young people who form the largest generation of youth in history – a challenge which, however, may be increasingly daunting amid a surge in youth unemployment and increasing economic distress.

Just last year, in fact, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) acknowledged in a 120-pageGlobal Employment Trendsreport that global youth unemployment rates would remain on an upward trend through to 2017, according to projections.

Young people, the agency said, continued to be particularly affected by a weak and uneven recovery with some 74.5 million youths – between the ages of 15-24 – unemployed in 2013 – the last year for which data was available. In addition, as the recovery remained weak, the average length of unemployment spells increased considerably.

Addressing the Council in his country’s capacity as President for the month of April, and at 20 years old, the youngest person to ever chair a meeting in the chamber, Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II of Jordan echoed those troubling findings, warning that poverty, unemployment, ignorance and “weak familial ties” help create “fertile ground for extremist thought and dismal ideas.”

He added that young people in search of opportunities seek to “invest their potential” but are often faced by dead-ends in their immediate environments, transforming their ambitions into “frustration that groups use to fuel their own agendas.”

“Swift measures should be taken to stop feeding the fires of terrorism with the blood of our youth, who are the primary target of recruitment, both voluntary and forced, by armies and extremist and terrorist groups,” he continued.

“We have to fill this vacuum that is being exploited by enemies of humanity by building on the potential of the youth and empowering them to achieve their ambitions. This can be achieved by making young people immune and equipped with quality education, proper job opportunities and a decent living.”

Meanwhile, as the lack of economic opportunities and persistent social disaffection experienced by many youths appeared to push them into the arms of radicals and their recruiters, many young people were also bearing the brunt of violent extremism, according to the Secretary-General.

Mr. Ban reminded the Council of the girls in Chibok, Nigeria, abducted over a year ago by Boko Haram militants, as well as the more recent attacks by extremists in Garissa, Kenya, and Peshawar, Pakistan – all which targeted young people and students.

“Violent extremists deliberately target youth for exercising their human rights,” he told Council members while adding that many of those who commit violence are “victimized by depraved adults who abuse youthful innocence.”

Nevertheless, in his remarks, the Secretary-General also voiced praise for the “countless” young heroes and heroines that, he said, wanted to “wage peace, not war” and urged Member States to welcome young people at the negotiating table.

“Youth suffer on the frontlines of war – but they are rarely in the backrooms where peace talks are held,” Mr. Ban affirmed. “They pay a price for the fighting – and they deserve to help structure the healing.”

He explained that youth organizations could play a powerful role in peacebuilding around the world but only if the international community helped to “scale up their activities and invest in their ideas.”

Education, he said, remained critical but so did access to funding. With more resources, the young could finally mature into a force for “peace, reconciliation and democratic governance.” “Too often, the speeches in this Council focus on problems in the search for solutions,” the Secretary-General concluded. “Today, let us see young people as the solution to our most vexing problems.”

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