UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. 24 October has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday.
Having regard to the previous UN work about youth such as Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS), Resolution 2419 (2018) that Calls for Increasing Role of Youth in Negotiating, Implementing Peace Agreements, we at UN(Y)A Albania could not help but organize something in the ambit of UN Week. This Tuesday, October 23rd, we invited 30 youngsters at Europe House for another great Coffee Talk. This time, we discussed about Youth Participation for more Security and Reconciliation.
The selected participants were divided into two panels, each led by two different, yet equally interesting speakers, Ms. Sihana Nebiu, Senior Democratization Officer/ Head of Civil Society & Gender Unit of OSCE in Albania and Mr. Fatos Mustafa, Deputy Secretary-General of RYCO.
In the first roundtable, Ms. Sihana Nebiu led the discussion. We focused on Security and tried to define our concept of it: Is security strictly physical? Is it financial? Is it both and more as in the Maslow’s Pyramid of needs? Well, many international organizations such as the UN or OSCE were created at times of great conflict such as wars, times when various aspects of security and stability were threatened. While the meaning of security can vary depending on our needs, we agreed that working for quality education, gender equality, economic growth, peace, justice and in general what the SDGs represent, contributes to the sense of security.
We also discussed the implementation of resolution 2250 and the 5 pillars on which it lays its ground: Participation, Partnerships, Prevention, Protection and Disengagement, Reintegration. Before this resolution, youth was considered either a perpetrator of violence or a victim of it. Today, youth are regarded also as agents of change and important factor in achieving more security and reconciliation.
In the second roundtable, the focus of the discussion between youth and Mr. Mustafa, were the Western Balkans and how can youth contribute to increased social security in the region. Youngsters talked about differences between culture, norms and language in the Balkans. Mr. Mustafaj noted that RYCO aims at seeing beyond the differences and building bridges that overcome the media and political narrative, through its youth exchanges.
The participants also stated that we are raised and educated with stereotypes that impose this idea of the Western Balkans as not secure (to travel, to study etc.) Therefore, exchanges in the region would help the better understanding of people in the Western Balkans. These exchanges are also important because the youth can master digital skills and soft skills through different trainings. This contributes to them being better equipped for the job market, raising possibilities of a better job and increasing economic security that will incentivize them to stay in their countries.
In the workshop, we also talked about the political leaders of the WB that need to embrace European values and norms in order to advance the integration process that helps hard security and social security, while contributing to a better future for the youth. Last, the participants stated the need to include youth more in formal settings to talk not only for problems but also solutions from their point of view.
We could not help but notice how Coffee Talks has beautifully grown as a concept and is becoming an initiative that we at UNYA Albania strongly identify with. Hence, we are already planning our next Coffee Talk and will try our best to increase the frequence of this activity. Until then, Happy UN Week!