In the last two decades, over 900 peace agreements have been signed globally, across multiple countries and peace processes.While inclusive peace negotiations are slowly replacing the traditional elite-dominated peace talks, and new research shows that broader participation can influence the success of a peace process (Paffenholz, 2015;Nilsson, 2012), no practical frameworks target the specific and meaningful inclusion of youth in a peace process and political dialogue; nor have studies examined the impact of youth-inclusive peace processes.
Young people have rarely participated in political processes as youth specific delegations, though they often play a key role in the pre-negotiation and implementation phases of peace agreements. Data on peace agreements and peace processes have not been assessed from a youth participation perspective, presenting an opportunity to build on research and draw evidence to evaluate the impact of youth-inclusive peace processes.
Myanmar stands at a critical juncture as it progresses from a military regime towards a civilian government and federal state. The formal peace process known as the Union Peace Conference-21 Century Panglong is currently stalling. Ongoing peace negotiations between ethnic armed organizations, the government, military, and political parties are seeking to end over six decades of civil war. The ambitious and highly structured self-mediated peace process has lagged into an exclusive process that has left many stakeholders, especially ethnic armed groups and civil society, losing trust and gaining frustration in the process. The process is further compounded with sub-national conflicts that impede prospects for peace and development.
UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, adopted in December 2015, requested the UN Secretary-General “to carry out a Progress Study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution.” The Progress Study was conducted as an independent, evidence-based and participatory research process, giving 4,230 young people across the world the opportunity to contribute to the discussions on the main peace and security issues facing their communities. Below is a thought-provoking piece by Ali Altiok, written on the occasion of the publication of ‘Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security‘ in 6 official languages of the UN.
Since the United Nations Secretary General introduced his Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism (PVE), in 2016, numerous UN entities, from UNESCO to UNDP, have gone into overdrive to produce countless reports and develop programs on PVE to demonstrate their dedication to this “new agenda”. Regional organizations, such as the European Union and the African Union, all showed their political and financial commitments to this arguably new agenda. Numerous national governments have already developed national action plans on the prevention of violent extremism. Even key non-governmental peacebuilding organizations who work with or are run by young people, welcomed this new policy agenda and started to work in the field of PVE as well. While all these actors work for the PVE policy agenda, almost all of them also endorse the Youth, Peace and Security agenda (YPS), born through the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 in 2015.
This is not a surprise considering that both the PVE and the YPS emphasize the importance of youth empowerment. At the same time, we need to see the qualitative differences in the way these two fields approach youth empowerment. While the PVE agenda supports empowerment programs where young people to take a more active role in the prevention of violent extremism, the YPS agenda promotes youth empowerment in the context of fostering social inclusion and increasing youth participation in peacebuilding. Continue reading “Youth, Peace and Security: The New Kid on the Block”→
Tensions in Sri Lanka have risen after violent clashes between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in central Sri Lanka. On 6 March, the government imposed a nationwide state of emergency. Our member organisation Sri Lanka Unites is working hard to bring the violence to an halt and address the underlying tensions. Below is their update on the current situation in Sri Lanka.
Accessing sustainable funding is a persistent challenge for youth organisations working in the peace and security field. In 2016, an average of 71% of the grant applications submitted by member organisations of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders were sadly unsuccessful. A majority of the youth-led organisations operate with limited funding, with 49% operating under USD 5,000 per year. The main sources of income of youth-led peace organisations come from local donations and membership contributions, as demonstrated by the report Mapping a Sector: Bridging the Evidence-base on Youth-Driven Peacebuilding. Despite the increasing recognition of the important role of young people in peacebuilding, reflected in UN Security Council resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, existing assumptions about youth organisations still limit the kinds of investment that donors are ready to make in youth organisations. Youth are not recognised as key practitioners in the peace and security sector on an equal basis with other experts in the peacebuilding and the broader development field. Most funding schemes are designed to enable non-youth actors to work with young people as passive beneficiaries rather than supporting youth to develop and carry out their own initiatives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Successfully advocating for a cause is like baking a great chocolate brownie: anyone with the right ingredients can do it but making one that is perfectly gooey on the inside and crusty on the outside requires a great recipe and some skill. The recipe for successful advocacy is as follows. Continue reading “The Recipe for Successful Advocacy”→
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.