Today’s young generation of 1.8 billion people are having their efforts ignored or going unrecognised, write World Vision and several other NGOs.
Ani Papyan, Armenia; Natalia Motorina, Russia; Natia Ubilava, Georgia; Denis Didikovic, Kosovo and Federica Sustersic, Italy, European Youth Advocacy Team (E-YAT) supported by the European Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding, which includes the following organisations: Search for Common Ground, World Vision and United Network for Young Peacebuilders
Today’s generation of young people, representing 1.8 billion people, is the largest the world has ever known. They represent a tremendous opportunity for the EU and the world. These young people are working to build bridges and mend ties, to overcome obstacles and create a more peaceful world. Yet, their efforts are largely ignored or go unrecognized. The UN Security Council Resolution 2250, adopted a year ago today, 9 December 2015, is a first of its kind effort at acknowledging young people’s positive role in mitigating violent conflict. It meant a new era for young people’s recognition in sustaining peace and a potential revolutionary opportunity. But where are we now?
At the moment, this resolution is the only global policy framework that endorses the ground-breaking, and often risky work that young peace builders are doing in conflict regions around the world. Resolution 2250 is the strongest and most comprehensive instrument to ensure young people’s inclusion and meaningful participation in issues of peace and security.
So today, as we celebrate the one year anniversary of Resolution 2250, we can take a look back and ask: what do the EU and its member states risk by not addressing the needs and rights of young people within and outside of Europe? What do young people bring to the table? How can the EU – the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize winner – maintain its position as Peace Champion in an era where there are many pressures to return to traditional defence and security measures at national and regional levels?
By empowering young people on the ground – Youth-focused/led peace-building organisations have already shown concrete examples of how they act at the forefront of peace-building. Children and youth people are promoting inter-faith dialogue in Lebanon, working on preventing violent extremism in Western Pakistan or reintegrating former child soldiers in DRC, and working with other civil society and stakeholders to support peace processes in countries such as in Colombia.
The EU should leverage the unprecedented support and recognition that 2250 provides to young peace builders to inform peace and security policies such as the EU Global Strategy for Foreign Affairs and Security and its implementation initiatives. Governments can no longer turn a blind eye to young people but tap into their local knowledge and skills to better understand and analyse the context and enable them to participate in decision-making efforts. This means that young people’s meaningful and recognized participation needs to be a top priority guiding the EU’s decision-making process on peace and security.
By creating a transformative peace and security agenda for women, girls and young people equally – Resolution 1325 and 2250 both highlight the importance of protection – protection of boys, girls, women and men form gender-based violence and armed conflict. By combining 1325 and 2250, the needs of the largest demographic – youth and women – can be addressed. The EU and its member states have invested significantly in supporting women and that has led to building a strong and credible evidence-base for understanding how investments are positively contributing to political, economic, social and cultural growth of a nation. This success shows that by supporting 2250, the EU and its member states will further encourage this evidence-base to be more inclusive and ensure young people’s contributions to peace and security can be quantified.
By promoting the constructive narratives of peace and putting human security first – In parallel to the adoption of 2250, the policy discourse around countering and preventing violent extremism (C/PVE) has grown stronger. C/PVE policy tends to reinforce the narrative of youth as vulnerable victims of radicalization and often fails to see young people as positive agents for change. This prevents them from assuming positive roles in the society as it undermines their potential in building peace and security. Resolution 2250 offers the EU and its member states the possibility to adopt a human security approach to C/PVE. By addressing underlying dynamics and root causes of conflict but also drivers for peace, by engaging all stakeholders (young people, civil society, security actors) 2250 offers a vision to develop and implement long-term sustainable solutions.