“Youth participation can increase the legitimacy and sustainability of peace processes. But to move from exclusion to meaningful inclusion, we must transform norms, practices, approaches and attitudes, and recognize young people as equal and powerful actors who can positively contribute to all steps and all aspects of peace processes.”
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Foreword of the “We are Here report”
The adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security in 2015 has paved the way for youth inclusive peace processes as it urges Member States to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels and to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes (see infographic).
The Secretary-General was requested to carry out a Progress Study on youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, which led to the Independent Progress Study: The Missing Peace (2018). The progress study served as a basis for the second UNSC resolution 2419 (2018).
The question “How can young people be effectively included and participate in peace processes?” had not been fully answered, nor given adequate attention until the first International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes, which took place in Helsinki, Finland on 5-6 March 2019. The Symposium brought together over 100 participants from 45 different countries, with expertise on peace and meditation processes. (see the Summary Report of the First International Symposium)
As part of the organization of the Symposium, the first global policy paper on youth participation in peace processes was developed . The Global Policy Paper We are Here: An Integrated Approach to Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes’ articulated for the first time that inclusion and participation of youth in peace processes cuts across three interconnected layers of engagement In the Room, around the Room and Outside the Room.
On 20-21 January 2022 a High-Level Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Process was held virtually co-hosted by the State of Qatar, Governments of Finland and Colombia and co-organized with civil society and UN partners.
The Global Conference built on the progress made since the adoption of UNSCR 2250, UNSCR 2419 and the latest UNSC resolution 2535 (2020) and aimed (1) to secure national commitments to advance country-level operationalization of the YPS agenda, and (2) to strengthen political will and commitment towards including youth into peace processes. One of the outcomes of the conference was the launch of a a five-year Strategic Action Plan for youth-inclusive peace processes.
Young people have been shown to create constructive and alternative channels to conflict resolution, have long-term mindsets on peace, and focus on just issues that underpin healthy, peaceful, and equitable societies – yet, they are rarely engaged as key strategic partners in mediation processes. Recognizing that younger generations will ultimately inherit and face the lived realities, consequences, and implementation of peace agreements, actors engaged in peace processes processes must be accountable for the legacies they will leave behind. Also, the diverse youth voices will be key in addressing the multifaceted and interconnected issues that enable sustainable peace.
We must move beyond seeing youth as mere beneficiaries of these processes, but rather as necessary partners and co-leaders essential in the prevention of violence, building of peace, and reconstruction of just and inclusive societies.
(Source: YPS- Five-year Strategic Action plan)
The document outlines differences and linkages between the women, peace and security (WPS) and youth, peace and security (YPS) agendas as well as recommendations on how to approach these two agendas in your work. The document has been prepared by PMD's Gender, Peace and Security and Mediation Support Units in consultation with PBSO and the Office of the Special Envoy for Youth (OSGEY).
Women Peace and Security (WPS) & Youth Peace and Security (YPS) Complementarities of the two agendas
‘We are in this together’: Operationalizing a five-year strategic action plan for youth-inclusive peace processes
The Five-Year Strategic Action Plan for Youth Inclusive Peace processes, launched in January 2022 at the High Level Global Conference on Youth Inclusive Peace Processes, has been co-developed by the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), the UN DPPA Mediation Support Unit, and Search for Common Ground in collaboration with different stakeholders including young peacebuilders, mediation support units of international, regional, and sub-regional organizations, and experienced peace process practitioners.
The document provides a framework for governments, regional and international organizations, civil society, and young people to work together to move from youth-inclusive norms to youth-inclusive practices over the next 5 years.
This strategic framework is built on four interconnected streams, which are: Institutionalization and Policy, Capacity Strengthening, Knowledge Solutions, and Community of Practice & Partnerships. The strategy further seeks to mainstream several key cross-cutting issues (Protection, Gender, Resources, Communication and Innovation) to be addressed and implemented across the strategy (see graph).