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Nobel laureate at Iceland’s conference: Youth are present’s builders and future’s leaders

The struggle of young people for political reform and a state of equal citizenship, justice and good governance is one of the most important areas for peacemaking and leadership of change, said Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Tawakkol Karman.

As a keynote speaker, Mrs. Karman participated at an international conference entitled “The Imagine Forum: Looking Over the Horizon” organized by Höfði Reykjavik Peace Centre(HOFDI), with the aim to bring together a dynamic group of young people and creative thinkers from arounf the world to engage in an inter-generational dialogue, seeking innovative solutions to global threats and challenges. 

We have to believe in young people as an enormous power and creative energy, who have enough potential to make peace and bring about change, and stop dealing with them as immature ones who are still lacking in wisdom, ability and experience to take part in peacebuilding and change, she added. 

Mrs. Karman pointed out that hopes and aspirations for a bright future would only be achieved when young people become a crucial part of the future’s equation, explaining that success in achieving the desired future depends on empowering the youth to participate actively in conflict resolution and peacemaking, as well as to be vital part of processes of change and development experienced and urgently needed by societies.

When it comes to wars and armed conflicts, the youth, unfortunately, find themselves forced to choose between being merely tools of violence or victims, while they remain disenfranchised from another more convenient and cost-effective option: distance themselves from battlefields, depriving wars of the most essential and dangerous ingredients, Karman continued. 

“The lack of participation of young people in the peace process will end up having a temporary, limited and incomplete peace. Any efforts for economic development in isolation from young people will be also doomed to failure.”

She stressed the urgent need to develop and reform the United Nations so that it could play its part in obligating all member states to take the necessary measures in accordance with international law to ensure the protection of civilians, including young people, during and after armed conflicts.

“The development and reform of the United Nations will enable it to oblige all parties to armed conflict to take the necessary measures to protect civilians, including youth and women, from all forms of violence,” the Nobel laureate emphasized.