6 June 2022, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission for Promoting Our European Way of Life, at the High-level Debate of the General Assembly on Enhancing youth mainstreaming in crime prevention policies
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, and the Principality of Andorra align themselves with this statement.
This is a timely debate. Youth, making up almost a quarter of our world’s population, is an active agent of change and the hope of humanity. But at the same time youth is disproportionately affected by crime and violence.
It is high time we gave young people a seat at the decision-making table. Institutions, whether local, regional or international, must work harder to mainstream youth participation across their crime prevention activities and to make policies more relevant and more effective for young people. We need a multi-sectoral approach to the prevention of youth crime.
The EU is fully committed to do its part. 2022 is the “European Year of Youth” highlighting the role of young people in building a more sustainable and more inclusive future.
The UN Secretary General’s report “Our Common Agenda” underlines the need to work with future generations. The appointment of a UN Youth Envoy in 2013 and the adoption of the UN Youth 2030 strategy were key steps for a UN that delivers with and for young people in diverse situations and conditions. Now, the key is implementation.
Last year, we welcomed the adoption of the Kyoto Declaration at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
But Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its spillover effect on organised crime pose a major obstacle to the Declaration’s implementation. We see heightened crime patterns in several areas, including trafficking in human beings. The European Union is deeply concerned about children and women, who are particularly at risk of being targeted by traffickers.
Our commitment to youth participation is strong. Last year, we established a Youth Sounding Board, composed of 25 young people from across the world, to advise on youth participation across policies. The European Commission is preparing the first Youth Action Plan in EU external action, which aims at accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda.
The European Union is working with international partners to build youth resilience against criminality, including organised crime, cybercrime and violent radicalisation, strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law, fight inequalities, and address the lack of decent employment and education opportunities.
The EU Strategy on Organised Crime 2021-2025 places emphasis on the local dimension. Targeted actions in neighbourhoods and communities have proven successful in offering alternatives that prevent young people from joining a life of violence and crime.
The local dimension is also key for preventing radicalisation. The EU Counter-terrorism strategy promotes inclusion and opportunities for young people at risk through education, culture and sports. The EU also supports local coordinators through the Radicalisation Awareness Network. This provides young people a safe space to share views with first-line practitioners and policymakers and empowers them to take action in their own communities.
We are enhancing the exchange of knowledge and best practices on crime prevention through the European Crime Prevention Network, which later this year will present a toolbox to prevent young people from joining gangs.
Further examples include EUROsociAL+ , our project supporting the modernisation of juvenile criminal justice systems, better access to justice for minors and inclusive education policies in Latin America, and the STRIVE Juvenile Justice Initiative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, funded by the EU. STRIVE focuses on preventing and responding to violence against adolescents by terrorist and extremist groups in Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria, by improving legal, policy and operational frameworks.
The EU also supports the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls worldwide, also providing additional funding to address the surge in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. President, Excellencies,
Investing in youth both at home and abroad is a priority for the EU. Over EUR 26 billion will be dedicated to the Erasmus+ programme over the next 7 years, with a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting youth participation in democratic life.
And we want to do more with the UN. Currently, the EU is the main contributor to the HOPE Fellowship Programme, which allows young officials from least developed countries to spend a year at the UN. In September, the EU will also launch an EU@UN Youth Delegate programme.
Thank you for organising this important high-level debate. We look forward to today’s discussions.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.