Welcome Remarks to the Group of Friends of Youth and Security as Group Co-Chair
As prepared for delivery by Chargé d’Affaires Courtney Austrian
to the Group of Friends of Youth and Security
October 29, 2021
Thank you, Ambassador Makeyev.
Dear Special Representative Marbinah, Special Representative Karimi, Ambassador Valdés, invited guests, colleagues:
The last year and a half has been extraordinarily challenging for youth. School closings, adapting to remote learning, and missed opportunities to meet in person to strengthen social and civic networks have significantly impacted their lives. Yet, as you will hear from our extensive list of speakers today, the region’s youth—and those working with and for them—are responding to these challenges with resilience, determination, and creativity.
In this context, the United States particularly welcomes Investing in Education for Safer Societies as the topic of today’s third and final meeting of 2021 of the Group of Friends of Youth and Security.
The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes educational equity for every child is the key to harnessing the full potential of youth. In July, President Biden pledged his support to helping every school in America open safely for full-time, in-person instruction, to accelerating academic achievement, and to building school communities where all students feel they belong. He also recognized that addressing the immediate impacts of the pandemic is not enough. More must be done to advance educational equity for every young person, including to develop and deliver relevant, high-quality education and training programs and minimize the digital divide. We must also provide special considerations for low income students, students with disabilities, and other, historically underserved groups. Schools, students, and societies need not only recover from the pandemic, but rather to Build Back Better.
In an OSCE context, the United States is a proud contributor to the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and the joint, OSCE-UNODA Scholarship for Peace and
Security which promotes girls’ participation in trainings on arms control and disarmament. We welcomed the incoming Polish Chair’s focus on youth at the July meeting of the Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation where the twin challenges of education and economic security featured prominently. In December, we look forward to receiving the final reports summarizing the perspectives of the region’s youth on education and other priority issues as presented by OSCE’s Perspectives 20-30 Core Group of Experts. Finally, it is our hope that the OSCE Secretariat will ensure participating States continue to receive updates on the important work of OSCE field missions’ youth advisory groups.
Returning to today’s agenda, we are pleased the Group continues to serve as a robust platform to highlight initiatives which advance the youth, peace and security agenda by state, civil society, international, and youth actors. We look forward to exploring practical examples of how education initiatives and related youth-supportive policies can help youth to achieve their potential as fully-engaged citizens but also to enhance their ability to address the pressing security challenges we face today.
Thank you, Ambassador.