On 22 June the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, which the Global Centre serves as Secretariat for, hosted a meeting on the role of children and youth in atrocity prevention, featuring a panel of youth activists working in the field of mass atrocity prevention.
Children and youth are uniquely affected by conflict and atrocities. Today, millions of children around the world are facing the risk of mass atrocity crimes, and their safety, protection and welfare are fundamental to the objectives of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). In Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere children and youth are at risk of being forcibly recruited, abducted, killed, maimed, raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence. Children also face the risk of mass atrocity crimes in non-conflict zones. For example, Uyghur children in China have been forcibly separated from their parents and deprived of their rights.
Although children and youth are disproportionately targeted, it is important to view them as more than just victims. As we have seen across the world, young people can be powerful agents of change. Youth leaders have inspired intergenerational resistance and built global movements on issues of peace, justice, human rights and climate change, demanding their right to shape the world that they will soon inherit.
The UN Secretary-General’s 2022 report on R2P, entitled “Responsibility to Protect: Prioritizing Children and Young People,” highlights the impact of atrocities on children and youth, as well as their role in atrocity prevention. During this event, held on the margins of the UN General Assembly plenary meeting on R2P, expert panelists shed light on the unique risks faced by children and youth, as well as provided cross-regional insights on how youth can play a more prominent role in building societal resilience against cycles of atrocities.
Remarks were delivered by Ms. Savita Pawnday, Executive Director of the Global Centre for R2P, on behalf of the International Coalition for R2P; Mr. George Okoth-Obbo, UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect; Ms. Adrianne Lapar, Director of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict; Ms. Nyon Nyin Toh, Asia-Pacific Youth Core Group on Atrocity Prevention; Mr. Khaled Emam, Executive Director of Justice Call and Organizing Partner of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth; Ms. Kessy Ekomo Soignet, local Peacebuilding expert in the Central African Republic; and Mr. Detmer Kremer, Policy and Communications Officer of Protection Approaches. Ms. Jaclyn Streitfeld-Hall, Director of Policy and Research of the Global Centre for R2P, moderated the event.