Visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, today, emphasised the importance of the involvement of young people and women in peacebuilding approaches to ensure sustainable social justice, especially in post-conflict countries like Sri Lanka.
Addressing an event titled, ‘Reconciliation and Coexistence: Role of Youth’, in Galle, the Secretary-General said the UN was building more and stronger partnerships with youth-led and youth-focused organisations to promote peace and development.
“I have also been trying to put right one of the most serious injustices: the exclusion of young people from peace building and reconciliation processes. Why should young people be sent off to fight wars, but be prevented from building peace?” he asked.
He said it was important to increase investment in the young women and men who make up one-fifth of Sri Lanka’s population since the youth are the biggest asset of the country, and Sri Lanka’s future success depends on them.
He also said that most of the young people in the country were born and lived their early lives during conflict, terror and displacement.
“Many of you suffered deprivation and injustice. Involvement in peace building, reconciliation and post-conflict transformation provide an opportunity to emerge from this trauma to play a part in creating a better future,” he said.
He went on to note that young people around the world were often depicted as potential terrorists and easy prey for recruitment by violent extremists.
“This distorted picture ignores the reality that the vast majority of young people want to be part of the solution to violent extremism.
In Sri Lanka and around the world, young people long for peace and security, and are among the most ardent proponents of human rights,” he told the youths who attended the event which was organised by the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), and the United Nations in Sri Lanka.