Five Ways in which Europe Can Move the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda Forward

November 11th, 2017

A recent global survey of youth-driven peacebuilding shows that youth-led movements and organizations are uniquely able to mobilise both youth and other community members as agents of peace, having and creating access where other organisations may not. They are successful at preventing violence in their communities, including by preventing recruitment to violent groups, and help build social cohesion and inter-faith unity. They are also the ones to deliver humanitarian assistance when national infrastructures are inadequate. The report Mapping a Sector: Bridging the Evidence Gap on Youth-Driven Peacebuilding, a descriptive analysis of the findings of the global survey, reveals that while youth around the world are engaged in noteworthy endeavours for peace with remarkable successes, they unfortunately face significant challenges. Many youth-led peacebuilding organizations operate on a budget of less than 5,000 USD per year. They encounter a lack of trust from governments and other stakeholders, leading to marginalization and sometimes even face threats of violence.

The European Union is an important global player. By giving youth a voice in peace and security, Europe can strengthen youth participation in peacebuilding worldwide. Advocating the EU to position itself as a key actor in the global development of the youth, peace and security field is therefore crucial. This is why 8 members of UNOY Peacebuilders’ European Youth Advocacy Team (E-YAT) set out on a mission to Brussels to mobilise support and resources to address the existing needs and challenges that were highlighted by nearly 400 youth organisation in the global survey. The youth advocates held meetings with Members of European Parliament, EU Permanent representatives from different countries, European Commission, the European External Action Service, and multiple civil society organizations. Their messages were met with great interest and are even gaining ground at the highest level. The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has expressed the European Union’s continued commitment to the youth, peace and security agenda.

If only intentions automatically translated into action, the world would be a different place. Unfortunately, the journey from intention to action in bureaucratic Brussels will face obstacles on many turns – ranging from policy panic on violent extremism (which tends to focus on youth as a group at risk rather than positive actors of change) to a “mainstreaming fatigue” towards the integration of different social perspectives in policy making and programming. One thing is sure, youth-led organizations are key actors in the peace and security field. There is a world to gain from engaging with them on an equal footing as with other practitioners working on peace and security and in the broader development and humanitarian assistance fields. The best part is: young peacebuilders themselves have already indicated how this can be done:

  1. Recognize and work with youth-led organizations as peace and security practitioners
  2. Improve youth-led organizations’ access to resources and support including earmarked funding for youth in peace and security
  3. Ensure the implementation of UNSCR 2250 in national and local policies and practices
  4. Provide space for youth participation within peace and security programming
  5. Strengthen the capacities of youth-led organizations so that they can build resilience in their communities.

Everyone has a role to play in the journey towards inclusive peace and security policies and practices – we’re playing our part, are you?

Benedikt Hielscher, Ani Papyan and Andrea Walker during the E-YAT mission in Brussels

Inspired to push for change? Interested in learning more about the European Youth Advocacy team? Get in touch at

UNOY Peacebuilders

We are a global network strengthening sustainable youth-driven peacebuilding. We connect 70 youth peace organizations across 45 countries.

Our goal is to create a world where young people have the opportunity and skills to contribute to peace. We work to strengthen youth-led peacebuilding initiatives, facilitate a safe space for dialogue and conflict transformation, develop the organizational capacities of our members and to bring the voices of young people to policy makers on a regional and global level.