UNOY Blog


Learning that can transform intercultural conflict does not arise from a single event but throughout a process. The #Youth4Peace Training: EuroMed Peace Trainers has been carefully designed to maximise its impact and ensure its sustainability beyond the 20 young people that have completed the course. This blog will walk you through the learning cycle, highlighting the experiences of participants as we bring the project to a close.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

It all started in January earlier this year. Twenty young peacebuilders were selected to participate in a Training of Trainers (ToT) aimed at enhancing their training and facilitation skills. The ToT had a specific focus on issues shared across the Euro-Mediterranean context, such as fostering intercultural dialogue and youth participation in conflict transformation. To elevate everyone’s theoretical understanding to the same knowledge base, participants followed a six week-long online course. This phase did not only serve as a preparation for the on-site training, it was also a useful platform where participants had the opportunity to get to know one another and team up in small groups to work together. One participant pointed out that “the online part was really valuable” and translated well into the onsite training.

Participant-centred, Experiential & Intercultural Learning 

The #Youth4Peace Training of Euro-Med Peace Trainers 2017 itself took place in The Hague between 26 February – 5 March 2017. After the first day, when everyone slowly trickled into the hostel, tired from their respective journeys from Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine and other places, participants dove straight into the theory and practice of non-formal peace education. An energetic week of discussions, simulations, workshops built towards two days of practice labs, where the participants put what they had learned into practice; by organising and co-facilitating their own peacebuilding session.

Participants had a central role during the training, learning from each other by sharing their own knowledge, experience and ideas. “It gave us the space to take over the responsibility so as to discover our strengths and weaknesses and how to develop and enhance the competences in such a training”, said one participant. Intercultural learning and dialogue was another integral part of the educational approach and programme. This was maximised through team activities and encouraging work in small multicultural groups.

Multiplying Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes

Participants had the unique opportunity to put their learning from the online and face-to-face training into practice by organising their own educational activities. These small-scale local activities are aimed to empower young people in their organisations or communities to take action for intercultural conflict transformation.

A participant from Young Leaders Entrepreneurs and Y-PEER Tunisia employed theatre-based techniques to mobilise young people for the prevention of violent ideologies, in regions of Tunisia where high numbers of youth have joined violent groups in Syria and Iraq. In the Netherlands, two participants teamed up with Kasbah Neuf to organise an event on polarisation in Dutch society with a focus on identity conflict, dialogue, and how to use stories to build peace. In Spain, the role of narratives in the spread of hate speech and human rights initiatives was analysed in a workshop organised by three participants in collaboration with Fundacio Catalunya Voluntaria and Nexes.

More than 220 additional young people have been reached so far, with many more local activities underway. And while the project may officially end, the developed knowledge, skills and attitudes will continue to be multiplied through an ever-growing group of young people in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

This project is supported by a grant from the Anna Lindh Foundation and Iona Stichting

In Nigeria, young peacebuilders have formed a coalition to push for more youth participation in addressing the country’s security challenges. In Liberia, youth are working to ensure a violence-free election process. In Cameroon, young people are working with their peers in the prison system to help them disengage from violence. Across West and Central Africa, young people are not only raising their voices for peace, but taking active measures to build peace from the ground up.

With 21 youth-led peacebuilding organisations as members of UNOY Peacebuilders, West and Central Africa has long been one of the most active regions within the network. However, coordinating all these efforts across a vast region has been a challenge. Now, with the creation of the position of Regional Coordinator for West and Central Africa, UNOY Peacebuilders is better equipped than ever before to address the region’s needs and ensure that young peacebuilders are able to work together across national boundaries.

Continue reading “Building a Closer Network in West and Central Africa”

The work of Youth Development Foundation, a UNOY Peacebuilders member organisation based in Pakistan, was featured in the newspaper Dawn in July 2017. The article is published here with the permission of Dawn.


For Kinza Roma, being the only Christian girl in college forced her to go through experiences that continue to haunt her even today.

“The discrimination I had to face varied from being taunted about my religion to being spat at whenever they passed me by,” she remembers. “They did not want to share a room with me, but that was nothing. They even made me wash the bathrooms.”
Continue reading “An Effort to Burn Bridges of Discrimination Through Interaction”

The European Youth Advocacy Team in Strasbourg!

By Ludmila Andrade

The team in Strasbourg

The Council of Europe (CoE) has played a pioneering role in promoting and supporting youth participation, capacity building and active citizenship. Within the topics of democracy, rule of law and human rights, the Council has well-structured and accessible institutions and funding mechanisms for young people of the forty-seven member states. For instance, the European Youth Foundation supports several youth-led projects focused on intercultural dialogue among its members. Moreover, the No Hate Speech campaign has mobilised thousands of young people online and offline in the promotion of human rights and dignity online. Therefore, the Council’s commitment to facilitating youth participation in society indicates that it can also be a key partner in the implementation of UNSCR 2250 in Europe.

Continue reading “E-YAT’s First Mission!”

 

Youth for Peace International, a UNOY Peacebuilders member organisation, the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Youth Development, and the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) gathered young peacebuilders from across South and South-East Asia to engage with themes including youth, peace and conflict management & transformation at a training of trainers in Chandigarh in October 2016.


Mridul Upadhyay and Omang Agarwal, of Youth for Peace International, wrote the following blog post about the background to the training and the experiences of participants.


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 “I lost my father 9 years ago. And when I chose cycling and music to empower young girls, I didn’t know it’ll make me a nominee for Nobel Peace Prize 2015”. –Zhala Sarmast, 17 years old, Afghanistan

“I had to leave my home, family and country to save my life from violence in communal riots. And now I am trying to search a meaning of this life by helping my fellow refugees.” -Ali Johar, 21 years old, Refugee in India from Myanmar

 

Thirty-seven amazing young peace-builders such as these, from India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives and Malaysia attended a five-day residential training aimed at empowering young minds from South Asia on themes of Youth, Peace and Conflict Management & Transformation. The International Training of Trainers (ToT) on Youth and Peacebuilding, from 18 – 22nd October 2016, was hosted by Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) Regional Centre, and took place in Chandigarh, India. The event was held in collaboration with Youth for Peace International (YFPI) and the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN).

Continue reading “Youth, Peace, and Conflict Management & Transformation – Empowering youth from South Asia”

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By Ludmila D. Andrade

Between 22-25 September 2016, the Schengen Peace Foundation organised the tenth edition of the World Peace Forum and most importantly, the second edition of the Youth World Peace Forum. The Forum took place in Florianopolis, southern state in Brazil, and it provided a platform where peacemakers from all around the world could come together and exchange experiences and best practices. The event, under the title of “We Believe”, presented a broad approach to peace, in which each day was dedicated to one aspect of peace: We believe in change (ecology); We believe in human rights (humanity); and We believe in peace (peace education).

During the forum, hundreds of workshops, lectures and artistic interventions were facilitated by participants, creating a multiplicity of spaces for dialogue among individuals from different national, religious and ethnic backgrounds. However, despite the richness of people and activities, the primary focus on in the intra- and interpersonal dimensions of peace left little space for discussions around social and political issues related to peace. In my opinion, that was a considerable weakness of the programme because all dimensions of peace are interconnected. Besides, promoting a larger political debate can create an impact that goes beyond the self-development of those present in the forum.

Continue reading “Personal & Political Dimensions of Peace
World Peace Forum in Brazil”

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By Matteo Tonella

The Young Peacebuilders Forum took place in The Hague for the third year in a row in September 2016. The Forum brought together 45 young peacebuilders from UNOY Peacebuilders’ member organisations as well as youth organization working in the field of peacebuilding.

This years’ Forum, the third such event organised by UNOY Peacebuilders, focused specifically on the advocacy efforts of youth peace organisations. The Forum was an opportunity to discuss UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security as well as other policies relating to youth participation in peacebuilding including European Union and Council of Europe policies. The Forum was an opportunity for the newly set up European Youth Advocacy Team, which brings the message of the youth peacebuilding movement to European decision makers, to present their work and get input and inspiration from other young peacebuilders which they will use in advocating for increased youth participation in peacebuilding.
Continue reading “Young Peacebuilders Forum 2016
Raising the bar of youth advocacy for peace”

 

By Matteo Tonella

With the announcement by UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon of Graeme Simpson as Lead Author for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, as well as an advisory group of experts to support the study process, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 takes a step forward. The Progress Study was mandated by the UN Security Council when it adopted Resolution 2250 in December 2015, to provide a basis for meaningful implementation of the resolution at local, national and international level.

Achaleke Christian Leke of Local Youth Corner, Cameroon, member organization of UNOY Peacebuilders, says that the Progress Study “will be a bedrock in concretizing this historic global agenda on youth, peace and security for the coming years and decades. This resolution hold the key to sustainable world peace, and for a young peacebuilders like myself, its findings will be extremely timely and important.

The advisory group is composed of 21 experts of diverse backgrounds including youth and non-youth, academics, practitioners, and individuals from different regions of the world. The members of the advisory group are: Farea Al-Muslimi (Yemen), Luz Alcira Granada Contreras (Colombia), Scott Attran (USA), Chernor Bah (Sierra Leone), Ikram Ben Said (Tunisia), Malual Bol Kiir (South Sudan), Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet (CAR), Ilwad Elman (Somalia), Matilda Flemming (Finland), Terri-Ann Gilbert-Roberts (Jamaica), Saba Ismail (Pakistan), Thevuni Kavindi Kotigala (Sri Lanka), Nur Laiq (UK), Mieke Lopes Cardozo (Netherlands), Robert Muggah (Canada), Hussein Nabil Murtaja (Palestine), Funmi Olonisakin (Nigeria), Salim Salamah (Syria), Ali Saleem (Pakistan), Hajer Sharief (Libya), and Marc Sommers (USA).

Several members of the advisory group have a background in UNOY Peacebuilders: Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, Saba Ismail and Thevuni Kavindi Kotigala all work for UNOY Peacebuilders member organisations, Hajer Sharief is a member of the Youth Advocacy Team and Matilda Flemming previously worked for the UNOY Peacebuilders International Secretariat. The other members of the advisory group similarly have very strong backgrounds in working on youth participation in issues of peacea and security.

On the nomination of Graeme Simpson as lead author, Gwendolyn S. Myers of UNOY Peacebuilders member organisation Messengers of Peace Liberia affirmed: “I’m thrilled with the appointment of Graeme Simpson as the lead author to establish the basis upon which the implementation of the UNSCR2250 would be formed. The contribution of young people to peace and security to a large extent has been ignored in the past but this announcement foretells a brighter future for young people. Without the meaningful and active participation of young people in peace and security issues, the quest for global peace would be an illusion to be pursued. We ask for all young peace advocates to support this initiative and call on world leaders to encourage youth engagement in peace, security and stability matters

The findings and recommendations that the progress study will produce will be presented to the UN Security Council on December 2017, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2250.

By Matteo Tonella

The World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 emphasized the severity of some of the most important  challenges currently facing humanity and declared the necessity to “bring humanitarian, development and peacebuilding efforts together”.

The themes at the core of the summit are very important to the work of UNOY Peacebuilders as a network of youth-led peacebuilding organisations. The network was represented by a group of young activists: Achaleke Christian Leke, Anca Gliga, Diego Cimino, Martine Kessy Ekomo, Marouane Bakit, Patrick Enwerem and Rashid Zuberu.

Asked about the achievements of the Summit, Patrick highlights the high level of commitment along the 5 Core Responsibilities envisaged by Ban Ki-moon in his “Agenda for Humanity”: “the stakeholders recognised global challenges as a shared responsibility, committed to an enhanced compliance with International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, and affirmed their responsibility to prevent and end conflicts upholding the essential participation of youth”.

The ‘Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action’, signed by over 30 UN Agencies and NGOs including UNOY Peacebuilders was the most relevant formal achievement of the Summit for youth. Building on UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security and on the Doha Youth Declaration on Reshaping the Humanitarian Agenda, it recognized the strengths of youth in the response to humanitarian situations as well as the responsibility to protect young people’s rights.

In addition to the formal conclusions of the Summit, the UNOY Peacebuilders representatives underline the positive effects descending from the gathering of a great variety of stakeholders engaged in the humanitarian field. The Summit, bringing together different perspectives to look at the challenges arising from humanitarian situations, worked as a platform for sharing points of view, experiences, knowledge and strategies, for fostering the enhancement of previously established partnerships and the creation of new connections.

Diego highlights this very aspect of the Summit affirming that “the main outcome is the momentum that it has created among the actors of the humanitarian field, which gathered for the first time all together to draw a common direction and a shared responsibility for addressing the huge humanitarian crisis all around the world. If they will be able to capitalize such a momentum, the Summit could be considered a success”.

It is however necessary for us to remain pragmatic on the achievements of the World Humanitarian Summit. Where do we stand at in facing the challenges arising from the engagement in humanitarian action after the Summit? Notwithstanding the positive recognition of the role of youth in humanitarian situations and the sincere commitment of the diverse range of stakeholders present, the absence of key governments remains a reason of concern. In addition, the true challenge starts now that the spotlights of the Summit are turned off and consists in living up to the promises made.

Looking at the unique and unprecedented level of cooperation on humanitarian issues reached at the Summit, and at the positive engagement of the representatives of the civil society, we remain optimistic on humanity’s joint capabilities to increase its commitment to addressing the major humanitarian challenges facing us. In addition, as Anca reports from the signing ceremony of the Compact for Young People, one of the key messages of the Summit is that in national and international fora “we are finally beginning to talk to youth, not only about youth”.