Statement by Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization On the occasion of International Youth Day- 12 August 2017
Today, we celebrate the role of Youth in Building Peace. Decent job opportunities for young people can make a major contribution to conflict prevention, reconstruction, and recovery, and to building resilience in fragile situations.
About two billion people are living in countries affected by conflict, violence and fragile situations. More than one-third of them are youth aged 15 to 24. Young women and men in these countries are particularly at risk of foregoing school and training – where such opportunities are available - and dropping out of the labor market.
Left without options for securing a livelihood, some, generally the most marginalized and disadvantaged, turn to armed conflict. So what is at stake here, is not only their present and future but also the resilience and ability of entire communities and societies to recover and to build a better future.
We also know that youth are part of the solution: when young women and men are listened to, supported and empowered, they become active agents of peace-building, actors for recovery and resilience.
The international focus on the role of youth in building peace could not have come at a more opportune moment. Two months ago, the ILO’s International Labour Conference, adopted a new Recommendation, No. 205 (2017) on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience. It provides guidance on promoting decent work opportunities in response to crises arising from conflict and disasters. The Recommendation pays special attention to the protection, education, and training of children and young people in situations of conflict and is founded on the value of dialogue. It has the potential to become a powerful driver of enduring peace.
We now have a historic opportunity to scale up our action on youth for peace by implementing the guidance given by Recommendation 205 and the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), through the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and its unique multi-stakeholder partnership, to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Two fundamental principles will guide our action to leverage youth engagement in peacebuilding: First, youth voices must be heard, their creativity engaged, and their rights respected; as stated in our 2012 Call for Action. Second, the importance of investing in youth skills and access to decent jobs. An ILO publication, Rising to the youth employment challenge: new evidence on key policy issues, being launched for Youth Day 2017 proposes innovative approaches in this respect (add link). It has three key messages:
- Effective youth employment policies require a comprehensive strategy reflecting the interaction and interdependence of policies and programmes.
- Appropriately designed wage subsidies can enhance skills, offer meaningful work experience and improve long-term employment prospects for youth.
- Self-employment programmes – with formalization as a conditionality - can make formal employment an attractive alternative for young people and their enterprises, both disproportionately represented in the informal economy.
Today, we celebrate the contribution of young women and men to peace. Their dedication and courage should go together with our resolute commitment to scale up action and investment in skills and decent jobs for youth.
A young activist working at Zaatari refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan declared: “When adolescents and youth have a vision, they will dedicate their life to achieving it”.
Young people globally have spoken of their vision for a future with decent work. We know what works to improve decent employment outcomes of youth, let’s make it happen!