The Academy increases the visibility of the OSCE’s work among young people and provides a valuable platform for emerging voices like yours to address key security challenges and concerns of the day. (Photo. Micky Kroell/OSCE)
Prepared for delivery by Ambassador Michael Carpenter
September 13, 2022
Let me start by, first of all, congratulating all of you, the 2021 and 2022 Online Academy graduates, for being here. Welcome to Vienna. And thank you also for presenting your research later today. I am a strong supporter of the OSCE Online Academy and applaud the work you do to make practical contributions to efforts to advance peace and security. It is really vital that we hear voices like yours. The Academy increases the visibility of the OSCE’s work among young people and provides a valuable platform for emerging voices like yours to address key security challenges and concerns of the day. I therefore look forward to receiving the recommendations included in the two security-themed guidance documents that we will be reviewing later today.
Unfortunately, our meeting takes place in time of war. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has displaced millions of people, undermined the foundations of the rules-based international order and fundamentally compromised European security. It threatens the safety and lives of an entire generation of young Ukrainians who have been forced to respond to a war they did not ask for. These young Ukrainians, faced with a myriad of difficult decisions, have chosen to defend and rebuild their country, even as they watch in horror the vast economic, environmental and, of course, human devastation this war has wrought.
Russia’s war of choice also highlights the larger question of the global nature of our collective security. To achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in our region, it is essential that we work to engage young people as stakeholders, empowering them to integrate their security needs and perspectives into the work of the OSCE. and in the respective national policies. In many ways, your generation is the most open, the most tolerant, and certainly the most digitally connected of any that have come before you. But having said that, there is also a lot to learn from previous generations, including that of, say, my parents, who showed an incredible commitment to public service which I think is an example for many generations who succeeded them. So there is a lot to learn in terms of intergenerational dialogue in this regard.
The OSCE Academy and the OSCE Flagship Project Perspectives 2030 on Youth Engagement are two good examples of how OSCE institutions and field missions are mainstreaming the Youth, Peace and security in the daily work of the OSCE. I welcome the decision of the Polish Presidency-in-Office to appoint a Special Representative on Youth and Security. This is very important, as several presidents before them have done, and I look forward to working with the new president – represented here by the Ambassador of North Macedonia – to highlight the youth agenda. In addition to the appointment of a Special Representative for Youth Engagement, I also welcome the decision taken by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in July to create a network of young parliamentarians. In fact, I have heard from many members of this network, including some in Ukraine, who have said how much this network has helped them in terms of being able to communicate across borders.
Finally, in my role as Co-Chair of the OSCE Group of Friends on Youth and Security, I would like to emphasize that the United States takes great pride in promoting the engagement of young women in arms control and disarmament. This is very significant through the use of the OSCE UNODA Peace and Security Fellowship. The reality, of course, is that women continue to be vastly underrepresented in security discussions, but programs like this help to make women’s voices heard, which is badly needed. We see this time and time again in the structures and institutions of the OSCE. We must, of course, integrate young people. We cannot forget young women either.
So, to the graduates and participants of the Foresight 2030 activities and the online academy, I would like to confirm to you the importance of integrating your voices into the OSCE. Our work provides young people with a platform – a meaningful platform – to engage the OSCE and policy makers here in your respective countries, also here in Vienna, and it deepens our understanding of your important contributions to peace and Security. Not only as beneficiaries, but, of course, as important stakeholders and partners.