On 9 December, 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2250 - its first-ever resolution on Youth, Peace and Security - thereby recognising the importance of the positive contributions which young people are making for the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Furthermore, it affirmed the important role that youth need to assume in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and called for the engagement of youth as partners and leaders at all levels of decision-making and peacebuilding processes. Since then, progress studies such as “The Missing Peace” and the two subsequent resolutions (UNSCR 2419 and UNSCR 2535), have called for additional measures to increase the influence and participation of youth in peacebuilding processes. Specifically, The Missing Peace urges the international community to “invest in the capacities, agency and leadership of young people”. It has thus become clear that education, training and capacity building of both youth and their counterparts at local, national and regional levels are essential to translate the resolutions on Youth, Peace and Security from the halls of the United Nations to policymakers, actors and change-agents at the ground level.
The Youth, Peace and Security agenda highlights five pillars for action related to young people's contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution:
Building Youth Capacities to Lead
Overview of thematic areas covered:
- Youth, Peace and Security Agenda
- Social and business entrepreneurship
- Youth leadership
- Youth-led advocacy
- Conflict resolution and mediation
- Equality and inclusion
Over the recent years, UNITAR has consolidated its offer in the thematic area of Youth Empowerment. Recognising the synergies between the SDGs (in particular 4, 5, 7, 10, 16 and 17) and in line with the priorities of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, UNITAR supports youth and youth counterparts by developing capacities of individuals, organisations and institutions to enhance youths’ potential to meet their communities most pressing peacebuilding needs. We are always open to expanding the ways that we can support actors in contributing to the empowerment of young people, and have to date supported partners in various capacities, including training and facilitation, training of trainers, advisory and in coaching and mentoring, on a constantly expanding range of topics.
UNITAR’S YOUTH LEARNING OFFERS
Together with a range of partners, UNITAR has developed various learning materials on the topic of Youth, Peace and Security. A few examples are listed below of how we have supported actors in numerous places.
1. Face-to-face event series: Imp!act for Peace
Imp!act for peace is an experience-based training for young people as well as their counterparts. Imp!act for peace brings together youth with representatives of the public and private sectors to create a space where young people can develop entrepreneurial projects that contribute to peacebuilding efforts, by tackling their communities’ most pressing social, political, economic and environmental challenges.
The experience-based training methodology, developed by youth and for youth, is based on the principle of agency-based empowerment. The newly developed projects can ultimately lead to self-employment; however, what makes this methodology exceptional is that the participants aim to give back to their communities. By creating social projects that solve problems in their own environments, the young people take over responsibility for the future of their communities. All projects carry a strong peace component meaning that participants need to consider the positive and negative consequences that could result from the implementation of their projects.
The training has been developed by UNITAR and Euforia and implemented with the support of local partners, such as Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) in Liberia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). In the years ahead, Imp!act for Peace will be implemented with partners in new forms, starting with the development of a blended format for a training of trainers programme that incorporates face-to-face and digital components. Such a programme will be piloted in Liberia in 2021 to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.
2. Immersive training tool: The Superhero’s journey
The Superhero’s Journey is a transformational learning tool that has reached youth in various corners of Colombia, in partnership with Ciudad don Bosco and with support from the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.
The project is structured in 30 sections with the overall aim to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable youth in marginalized communities to act as agents of positive change. The project directly involves schools, educational institutions, and educational programmes in the scaling of the capacity-building intervention. At the core of the approach is a gamified educational tool aimed at promoting integration and peaceful co-existence within local communities with a specific focus on enabling children and youth to become actors of positive change. The Superhero’s Journey further includes activities that have an impact on families and the surrounding community. This is achieved by identifying the needs of the community itself and through actively supporting professionals working in youth centred programmes, as well as socialisation and learning for vulnerable children and youth living in suburbs and marginalized contexts.
3. Face-to-face course series: Youth-led reconciliation and conflict transformation
This training methodology, developed together with Ciudad don Bosco in Colombia and sponsored by Germany’ Federal Foreign Office, supports young people to develop their capacities to work, not only with children and youth, but also with their families and communities, around three aspects that are crucial to the achievement of sustainable peace: reconciliation, resilience and conflict prevention. In this process, a specific focus is placed on storytelling and historical memory building methodologies with the aim to share stories from members of conflict-affected and marginalised communities in different parts of the region, that, through the multiplicity of perspectives represented, will in turn contribute towards a culture of reconciliation.
The training is focused on the following approaches:
- Community- and family-based reconciliation, resilience and conflict transformation mechanisms.
- Youth as leaders in promoting do-no-harm approaches and principles of non-discrimination and social inclusion.
- Creative storytelling for community-based historical memory building and reconciliation.
4. Online and face-to-face training course on Youth and Peacebuilding
At UNITAR, we firmly believe that building the capacity of young people and youth counterparts is key to the engagement of youth as partners and leaders at all levels of decision-making and in peacebuilding processes. Aside from face-to-face trainings, UNITAR has developed a free and always open online course (available in English and French) on youth and peacebuilding that offers two parallel tracks for young people and relevant decision-makers in fragile contexts. The course is designed to enable learners from around the globe to understand better the current situation of youth in complex contexts, their needs, challenges and potential, and to explore possible entry points for young people’s involvement in peacebuilding activities and strategies.
5. Face-to-face training course: Youth Peacemaker Network
In communities impacted by conflict, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) – the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative’s (WPDI) flagship programme – seeks to bring together young women and men who want to be forces for good and voices for change. Participants are trained, mentored and supported to create coalitions of peacebuilders and entrepreneurs who can work together to plant and nurture the seeds of peace and development in their communities and their countries. The work of the peacemakers, through community dialogues, teaching peace education in local primary and secondary schools, or the small businesses that WPDI strives to support, all adds up to ensure that, in the end, local actors can transform their communities at the grassroots level.
For this programme, UNITAR has contributed with methodological and content revision of the WPDI Training of Trainers Programme for the Youth Peacemaker Network, to increase the capacity of young peacemakers to disseminate knowledge and skills in vulnerable and conflict-affected communities, notably in South Sudan, South Africa and Uganda.
6. African Youth Charter Hustlers Initiative
The African Youth Charter Hustlers Initiative represents the very first initiative of the African Union (AU) with fully inclusive youth representation across the 55 Member States. The initiative was launched at a critical moment for youth on the African continent as July 2021 marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the African Youth Charter (AYC) - a rights-based framework that guides the engagement and empowerment of youth in Africa, enshrines their rights, duties and freedoms. Spearhead by the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy (OYE) and in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), this flagship project is specifically designed to mobilise African youth to lead continental, regional and national advocacy for the ratification and implementation of the Charter as well as the establishment of effective monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
For more information related to our activities in the area of youth empowerment, please contact the Youth and Women’s Empowerment team of the Division for Peace at YouthandWomenEmpowerment@unitar.org.