Recognizing young people as powerful peace-builders

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(Reposted from: UN DESA Voice.  August 2017)

Around the world today, more and more societies are recognizing the role that youth play as agents of change and as critical actors in preventing conflict and building peace. Many of the world’s 1.2 billion young people, are also affected by the horrors of conflict and war. It is against this backdrop that the International Youth Day this year will be celebrated under the theme “Youth Building Peace”, considering matters of youth, peace and security from a social developmental perspective.

This year’s theme also supports the recent work and commitments in the field of youth, peace and security by Member States, United Nations entities, youth and youth-led organizations.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also emphasized that sustaining peace and preventing conflict is a crucial part of his work and he has moreover recognized the capabilities of youth to defend human rights, secure sustainable development and build peaceful societies.

The theme is particularly relevant given that many of those affected by conflict are often young people. The realization that lasting peace cannot be built without both adequate protection of youth, as well as their engagement as stakeholders, provided impetus for the youth, peace and security agenda in recent years.

Youth, peace and security

These developments, including the 2015 adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 (Resolution 2250), mark a shift in the understanding of young people’s roles in the larger context of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconciliation.

Resolution 2250 serves as a policy framework which underscores the positive role of young people in preventing and resolving conflict, countering violent extremism and building peace. It urges Member States to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels as well as provide young people with the support and tools necessary to actively participate in conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

Resolution 2250 mandated a progress study on youth’s contributions to peace processes and conflict resolution. Since the lack of comprehensive and reliable data on the positive role of youth in the field of peace and security impedes the development of context-specific policies, the recommendations provided by the upcoming study would be a valuable tool for policy-makers.

Celebrating International Youth Day 2017

Commemorated on 12 August, this annual and often well-attended celebration, showcases the content of the World Programme of Action on Youth, a policy framework and guide for improving the situation of young people around the world.

The official commemorative event will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 11 August 2017 and is organized by UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) and the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s (UN IANYD) Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding.

It will bring together youth, representatives of Member States, civil society and UN entities to discuss youth engagement in peacebuilding and violence prevention, echoing both the United Nations’ work on youth on the topic and Resolution 2250.

The event will be broadcast live via UN Web TV. To follow the conversation via social media, the online audience is encouraged to use the hashtags #YouthDay, #Youth4Peace and #ActOn2250.

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