Youth and Peace-building

We’re all aware of the concept of ‘peace’. We’ve grown up with some notion of peace instilled in our psyche throughout our lives. However, we might find ourselves tongue-tied if asked to elaborate on the topic. On pondering over ‘peace’, we will be amazed at how little we can actually talk about such a socially relevant topic. Peace might seem synonymous to conflict resolution or conditions/situations without conflict. However, Peace isn’t a stagnant concept. It’s a dynamic development process which encompasses education, safety, growth and happiness too.

 

Why does the youth need to engage in peace-building when we have international organisations, governments, media, all working towards bringing about peace- both internally within States and across the world?

 

  • 48% of the world population is under the age of 24, the largest proportion until now. 18% of this(around 1.2 billion) comprises the world’s youth. How does the world plan on achieving the goal of peace without including almost half of its people?

 

  • Young people in conflict and post-conflict societies are vulnerable to both voluntary and involuntary military recruitment. Being separated from family and loved ones, deprived of formal or even informal education, loss of security and protection, makes young people more susceptible to poverty and violence.

 

Young girls and boys are killed, maimed, abducted, caught by traffickers and smugglers, and deprived of healthcare. Young girls and boys, especially can fall prey to sexual violence leading to unwanted pregnancies and health problems. The damaging effects go beyond the apparent, physical scars. They are hurt emotionally and become psychologically distressed. Long term effects, i.e. those that go beyond the duration of the conflict include poverty, unemployment, disintegration of families. The limited social, economic and political opportunities are strong factors driving youth to become a part of conflicts. By not including them in development, the society is itself steering the youth to taking up violent roles in conflict. Instead of allowing the youth to become perpetrators of violence, we need to recognise the crucial role they can play in facilitating peaceful transitions and empower them for the same.

 

  • Young people have taken on active roles in building peace networks to try and prevent outbreak of violence. It is essential that structures and institutions are created to support their efforts.

 

Recognising the need for a transformation in the way international community engages young people in conflict contexts, on 9th December, 2015, there was a unanimous adoption of resolution 2250. The Council also urged Member States to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes and dispute resolution at the local, national, regional and international level. It defined youth as persons aged 18 through 29.

The Doha Youth Declaration on Reshaping Human Agenda was an outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit Global Youth Consultation. It was a culmination of numerous dialogues among the young people that attended the summit and represented their opinions. It talks about the capability of youth in dealing with crises and advocates localisation of humanitarian action instead of depending on external help and volunteers.

This was a historic event that marked the beginning of an unprecedented turn of events when the youth demanded, and were granted access to the driver’s seat of the vehicle of change. There will be setbacks as the youth is always more affected by crises than others, however, now there is an organised mechanism to steer change in a positive direction.

Salonie Dua

Picture: Kunal Raj