10 Ways to Engage Youths in Peace Building.

By Solomon

Today, more than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict — a majority of which is under the age of 30.

These numbers alone justify the inclusion and consideration of youths in policymaking and planning. But in practice, the meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains.

The inclusion of young people in peacebuilding processes is bound to facilitate sustainable peace in a society, by redirecting the energies of young people to the implementation of constructive peace projects. Incorporation and utilisation of youths in peacebuilding processes would facilitate their transformation from agents of violent conflict, to agents of peace in their societies.

This are the 10 ways to engage youths in peace building.

1. Create spaces for youths to express their opinions — and listen to them.

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors with their own views and contributions.

“Youth voices in peace building are present everywhere, but sometimes not recognized,” Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, told Devex. “The creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard.”

In practice, this can be done by encouraging both youth and adults — parents, teachers, nonprofit workers, or community and religious leaders — to support the formation of youth groups that offer young people a chance to formulate their opinions.

2. Enhance the peace-building knowledge and skills of young people.

Although most young peace builders create positive impact with minimal resources, it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks that can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

“Training opportunities can range from content-based topics such as conflict or gender to more practical-focused areas such as advocacy or project management,” Dylan Jones, project and gender officer at UNOY Peacebuilders underlined. “By facilitating youth connecting on individual and organizational levels, ideas, challenges and best practices can be organically shared.”

3. Build trust between youths and governments.

Youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

To close the gap, activities that promote the legitimization of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial, according to Piet Vroeg, child and education director at Cordaid. As such, joint workshops, community projects or platforms can all help bridge the divide between youths and government officials. It’s also important to encourage young people to learn about national or regional peace priorities while helping them work toward their own peace priorities.

“Now, after a couple of years, the youth councils have gained the trust of local government authorities, to the point that when it’s time to decide on the local budgets, these youth councils are being consulted to see if the budget make sense,” Saji Prelis, director for children and youth programs at Search for Common Ground, highlighted.

4. Promote intergenerational exchange.

Rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects seeking the engagement of youths should also include parents and elders.

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their entourage. Yet adults might perceive youth-led initiatives as a threat to their own power and position. This points to the need for youth peace-building projects to be accompanied by dialogue and cooperation between young people, their relatives and community elders.

“Seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and participate in awareness-raising among the wider population,” Vroeg suggested.

Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, youths can demonstrate the benefits of their peace actions. Such communication and collaboration channels also enable young people and adults to explore the common problems they face and to tackle them together, thus participating in the emergence of sustainable solutions.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created,” Flemming underlined.

5. Strengthen monitoring and evaluation.

While efficiencies can always be found, monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives capitalizing on youth engagement.

Suffering from a chronic lack of financial support, youth peace-building activities often have very limited ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their work — a situation that seriously impedes the visibility and sustainability of their initiatives.

But beyond increased financial support, innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution must be used — particularly those that build on qualitative evidence and participative approaches.

“Surveys, focus groups and interviews are considered as the gold standard of inquiry, but those are adult methods of articulating evidence and showcasing impact, which ultimately benefit only adults,” Pralis told Devex. “Instead, we should make evaluation conversational and youth-led, as this works for everybody.”

The evaluation process recently started by the Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding — a coalition of local youth groups and international organizations — is particularly illustrative. It allows young people to take an active role in determining evaluation design, data collection methods and information analyses.

6. Support youths who are positively contributing to their communities.

Finally, it’s crucial to avoid rewarding “bad behavior” by incentivizing young people who are positively contributing to their communities.

Current youth programming focuses much of its attention on young individuals who were troublemakers or soldiers. This effectively rewards youths for joining armed groups — or is at least perceived as doing so by local communities.

“In general, young people feel marginalized and their voices are not heard or trusted as credible. But when they commit violence, the international community rushes in,” Prelis noted. “We have to be more conscious, cautious and thoughtful in our approach to youth engagement and avoid sending the message that we only care about you when you cause harm.”

Simple rewarding systems such as certificates, prizes and scholarships can serve as great incentives for youth. They can also inspire their peers to take action and participate in peace programs.

Further, try to situate your organization’s programming for young people within larger peacebuilding efforts. Without comprehensive efforts to change the underlying factors that contributed to war in the first place, youths might feel that their efforts are in vain.

7. Support education and capacity-building for peace.

Access to education is fundamental for facilitating young people’s positive engagement in peace. Youth suggested specific and practical ways this could be realised, including reforms to civic education, and the introduction of peace education.

“The only thing that can ensure us a better future is education… Without education, the country will not have a future”. – Young Azeri woman living in Georgia.

8. Facilitate and support dignified livelihoods.

Greater economic opportunities for youth are necessary to motivate young people to pursue peaceful and productive paths in their lives. Youth are keen to increase their opportunities to learn skills and develop entrepreneurial capacities but these need to be made available to them.

“The main concern of both young and older generations is to ensure daily well-being, that is, to find a job, get an education. Only after these problems are resolved will it be possible to increase the youth’s interest in resolving the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.” – Georgian youth.

9. Support youth visions of peace.

Even when they have not known life without conflict, young people have clear visions of what peace should be, and have a strong desire for a future without violence. Peace processes need to ensure meaningful inclusion of these views in their design and implementation.

“For me when there is no firing and shelling, it is peace. When children do not become victims of mine blasts in my village, it is peace. When I see my mother going to the fields to collect wood and graze animals, it is peace. When I see children playing in the common fields or grounds then I consider it peace.” – Young person in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

10. Plan a peaceful event.

If you want to raise awareness about problems facing your community and encourage peace in your community, then organizing a peaceful event is a good option. Try banding together with some local community members to put together an event, such as a community picnic, a food drive for a local food bank, a peaceful protest, or a walk through your community to raise awareness about a problem your community is facing.

If you don’t feel ready to plan an event, then you could also organize a small meeting. Try planning a meeting and inviting some other community members who are interested in making your community a more peaceful place. Use the meeting to share your concerns and discuss possible solutions.

Conclusion
Problems within a community can prevent people from living safe, happy, and productive lives. Promoting peace in a community is an extraordinary challenge, and it often requires the work and dedication of many community members. However, you can help to promote peace within your community by encouraging good relationships with your neighbors, learning more about your community’s history, and taking action to deal with violence.

Reference:
1. Devex.com ways to successfully engage youths in peace building by Manola De Vos.
2. C-r.org ways to support youth inclusion in peacebuilding.

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Youth Groups in Togo Asked to Appreciate Peace

“Association de Jeunes Ressortissants Togolais Residant au Ghana” (AJRTR), a Togolese youth group, has called for the sustenance of peace and tranquility in Togo.

It said the goals of Togo could not be met in the atmosphere of rancour and division and dammed the political crises that hit the country since August 2017, lasting for months.

Mr. Dansu Komlavi, AJRTR President, said this at a press briefing at Aflao in Ghana, where the AJRTR is based, with about 200 of its members, mainly youths and a number of Togolese media attending.

The press briefing was to awaken Togolese, in and outside Togo, the governing party and opposition forces, to engage in dialogue for peace and development.

It was also to serve as a wake-up call to the youth to desist from being used for violent conflicts, to know they required peace to develop as future leaders.
Demands by Togo’s oppositions groups that the country’s current constitution be set aside to stop the president from seeking re-election into office ad infinitum, for a two-term system, resulted in a deadly crisis until the ECOWAS-negotiated truce.

The group asked all to trek the ECOWAS-negotiated settlement that brought about relative peace, leading to the holding of parliamentary elections in December last year, but which the 14-member opposition group boycotted.

The Group also urges the government to adhere to its promise of having the constitution reviewed for two-terms for a president, protect the human rights and wellbeing of all citizens.

It also urged it not to renege on the responsibility of using the country’s resource for needed developmental projects under the national development programme.

“Despite our differences we are one people united by one nation and can come together through dialogue, not by conflict”, the Group said.

The AJRTR urged all, including the government and the opposition to pursue and deepen the path of democracy in Togo to accelerate development and unity.

It commended the government of Ghana and other West African Heads of State and the ECOWAS Commission for guiding the country back on the path of peace and tranquillity during the months-long crisis.

The group also asked the Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe Esdorzima and his government to have a strong heart to lead the country out of the crisis.

Mr. Dansu was supported by other executives of the group including Mr. Yao Gator, the Youth Wing Leader.

Source GNA

Five ways to support youth inclusion in peacebuilding

Young people who have experienced conflict firsthand have a vital role to play in peacebuilding. They have a clear vision of what peace could look like in their countries and communities, and have the drive to work towards the realisation of these goals.

However, in many cases they are seen not as positive forces for peace, but rather as threats to it. Recent research conducted by Conciliation Resources with youth from five different conflict regions identified the five key changes which need to be made to ensure young people are able to participate in creating more peaceful societies.
Older people often remember the old days, and young people would prefer to think more about the present and look to the future. The older generation finds it hard to forget old wounds and grievances, and young people can start from a clean sheet.

Georgian youth

Even against tremendous challenges, youth are actively engaging in their communities, and are making positive contributions to peace. Unfortunately, they are facing numerous barriers to participating in formal and informal peace processes. This includes a lack of trust in governments and political institutions; voicelessness based on identities including age, as well as threats of violence and radicalisation. Women and girls face additional challenges when it comes to exclusion from public spaces.
Because youth are both actors and victims in South Sudan conflicts they are the only capable force to implement the peace agreements.

Young person in rural South Sudan

It is clear that not harnessing the power of youth is detrimental to peacebuilding efforts. The challenges they are facing need to be addressed, and young people should be involved in the design of any responses to conflict.

Youth, peace and security
In December 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. The resolution was the first to recognise the important role young people can play in preventing conflicts, and sustaining peace.

Conciliation Resources was invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to contribute to the Progress Report on UNSCR 2250. Between July and September 2017, Conciliation Resources conducted participatory research with 494 young people living in Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, South Sudan, the Georgian- Abkhaz context, and among youth of the Ogaden diaspora living in the United Kingdom.

Five key findings emerged on how young people can play a greater role in peacebuilding:

1. Support youth visions of peace
Even when they have not known life without conflict, young people have clear visions of what peace should be, and have a strong desire for a future without violence. Peace processes need to ensure meaningful inclusion of these views in their design and implementation.

For me when there is no firing and shelling, it is peace. When children do not become victims of mine blasts in my village, it is peace. When I see my mother going to the fields to collect wood and graze animals, it is peace. When I see children playing in the common fields or grounds then I consider it peace.

Young person in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

2. Create space for youth to engage in political processes
Many youth feel excluded from political processes, and from making meaningful contributions. It is crucial that governments make sustained commitments to rebuild the young people’s trust and confidence in governments. There are also additional challenges facing women and girls in gaining access to public spaces which need to be addressed.

We have few opportunities to act politically outside the house, let alone take part in the peace process on either a local or national level.

Young Afghan woman

3. Facilitate and support dignified livelihoods
Greater economic opportunities for youth are necessary to motivate young people to pursue peaceful and productive paths in their lives. Youth are keen to increase their opportunities to learn skills and develop entrepreneurial capacities but these need to be made available to them.
The main concern of both young and older generations is to ensure daily well-being, that is, to find a job, get an education. Only after these problems are resolved will it be possible to increase the youth’s interest in resolving the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.

Georgian youth

4. Support education and capacity-building for peace
Access to education is fundamental for facilitating young people’s positive engagement in peace. Youth suggested specific and practical ways this could be realised, including reforms to civic education, and the introduction of peace education.

The only thing that can ensure us a better future is education… Without education, the country will not have a future.

Young Azeri woman living in Georgia

5. Facilitate inter-community dialogue and exchanges
Distrust, stereotypes, and prejudices can be tackled by initiatives, such as exchanges, which encourage continuous dialogue and engagement between youth from different communities. It is particularly important that young people who have been directly victimised by conflict are involved.
The problems of young people are due to the fact that, during their upbringing, we were in a state of blockade. Young people did not have the resources to receive any information from the outside. We stewed in our own juice. There was no way to learn from the experience of other countries.

Reference
Acticle by Abkhaz youth c-r.org

How do I stay away from violence, hatred and all the bad things?

Featured photo credit: Getty Images

Azugbene Solomon

By knowing that all these are acts of low consciousness. They do not benefit anyone ever. The reason people indulge in them is to gratify their weak egos and have a momentary release.

Our subconscious mind is extremely powerful and can either enrich or destroy our lives. Indulging in anti social behaviour leaves negative imprints on it, therefore your whole psyche starts detiorating. You operate from a mode of ignorance which will ultimately catch up to you and make you pay.

No one has got away with such behaviours and never will. Even if they escaped the law, they cannot escape their own guilt (which is even more traumatizing) that happens to catch up to them years later.

Stay in the company of good and compassionate people. Obey your intuition and consciousness. Don’t seek cheap thrills and don’t act on momentary impulses. Keep the larger picture in mind, always.

There are no way you can avoid all bad things in life. Bad things are a part of life. Millions of bad things happens every day without us knowing. They may have a direct or indirect affect on you.

Its unfortunate to see hatred, evil and all things bad. Life has a strange way showing us there can be good from bad things. Though we may not see it at that time.

Only advise I can give is to do your best to be a better person. Your actions have consequences whether good or bad, you must keep that in mind.

Life is intertwined, there are ripple effects some may be on a small scale. You have a choice to make a difference in life. Therefore make it a good one, because what you do will affect life whether you realize it or not.

Reference
Acticle by Pranoy Mukherjee & Souriya B. Vongchanh Quora.com

How a group of youth are using art to promote peace in Rwanda

By Sharon Kantengwa

Imfura Arts for Peace is an arts organisation that started in 2018, for aspiring peace and social responsibility in community for the youth.

It was founded by a group of youths, led by 21-year-old poet and author, Fred Mfuranzima, while in high school. It has since grown to include other youths from different backgrounds.

At school many knew me as an author and poet and so many young people came to me and requested to help them develop their talents. I decided to bring them together and we discussed how we can work together.

This is how we started a group, affiliated to Never Again, Rwanda that helped us to understand the critical thinking skills and to create a space where we can meet and discuss about our community issues that matter to us.

“I decided to create a group that can perform different kinds of art and in the process inspire others that have hardships in creating their art. The group has been on the rise for being responsible leaders and active citizens, which is needed for our post- Genocide society. Youth born in different family backgrounds can work together to develop and nurture their talents for change,” he says.

The over 80 youths, including scholars that are part of the organisation, are involved in kinds of art including poetry, book writing, others photography, paintings, fashion.

Aamani Mugiraneza, a member of Imfura Art for Peace, believes that working together as a group enables them to support each other with their talents as they all get to share their own skills before Allen Umulisa chips in;

“In our Rwandan society families think of art as a waste of time. But when you work together as a group, it shows them that you are doing something of benefit to the society.”

Claire Uwihozo, another member that shares her fashion design skills, says they chose art as a way to attract the youth because they like entertainment which they use to learn about peace.

“We are trying to give the youth a platform to express their ideas and say something that would change our country and sometimes it’s hard to air your voice alone but as a group when you bring your ideas in a creative way, it feels less intimidating and you get to have a bigger audience,” adds Clemence Umutoni.

Today, February 16, they will be presenting their projects for 2019, titled “ Arts and the path to resilience: dealing with trans-generations trauma and repository of our society’s memories” at the Innovation Village in Kacyiru.

“We will use our different projects of fashion, poetry, music, literature, painting and visual arts which will work on tracking our society’s history and inspire the youth who have faced trauma. We are going to put them in the books, recorded poems, paintings, photography and make some exhibitions and events where those artists will get time to perform and tell their own stories. We will also create a space where the youths will come to understand our history to be able to tell the stories in the future,”

“We want to spread our messages of peace as a way of building our country and also ourselves. When you have a message through art, when you pass it on, it reaches many people, Peline Mudahungwa, another member, adds.

Source The New Times

6 ways to successfully engage youths in peace building

By Manola De Vos

Today, more than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict — a majority of which is under the age of 30.

These numbers alone justify the inclusion and consideration of youths in policymaking and planning. But in practice, the meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains.

Fortunately, recent times have witnessed a gradual shift in paradigm. In a concerted effort to promote youths as active leaders and partners in peace processes, the United Nations, Search for Common Ground, and myriad nongovernmental organizations recently launched the Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding, which offer guidance to key stakeholders on meaningful youth engagement in conflict or transition settings. And as recognition of the positive role youths can play in peace building grows, operational guidelines on how to apply the principles will be published later this year.

So how can organizations leverage youth engagement to uproot violence inherent in their communities and countries? Devex asked four youth activists and experts to share some best practices that development leaders — particularly program designers and managers — can apply to give young people the opportunities they need to become agents of peace.

Create spaces for youths to express their opinions — and listen to them

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors with their own views and contributions.

“Youth voices in peace building are present everywhere, but sometimes not recognized,” Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, told Devex. “The creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard.”

In practice, this can be done by encouraging both youth and adults — parents, teachers, nonprofit workers, or community and religious leaders — to support the formation of youth groups that offer young people a chance to formulate their opinions.

Information and communication technology such as UNICEF’s U-report — a free SMS-based platform through which youths can express their views on what is happening in their communities — also offer some promising spaces of expression for meaningful youth participation in peace building.

Enhance the peace-building knowledge and skills of young people

Although most young peace builders create positive impact with minimal resources, it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks that can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

“Training opportunities can range from content-based topics such as conflict or gender to more practical-focused areas such as advocacy or project management,” Dylan Jones, project and gender officer at UNOY Peacebuilders underlined. “By facilitating youth connecting on individual and organizational levels, ideas, challenges and best practices can be organically shared.”

Some of the most successful interventions also find ways to leverage youth interests — arts, sports, media, informal learning and personal relationships — to teach peace-building skills. For instance, Mercy Corps found that youths are more likely to remember conflict management lessons they’ve learned through sports.

Build trust between youths and governments

Youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

To close the gap, activities that promote the legitimization of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial, according to Piet Vroeg, child and education director at Cordaid. As such, joint workshops, community projects or platforms can all help bridge the divide between youths and government officials. It’s also important to encourage young people to learn about national or regional peace priorities while helping them work toward their own peace priorities.

As an example, dozens of local youth councils were established in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia — an initiative that has fostered newfound confidence between youths and local politicians.

“Now, after a couple of years, the youth councils have gained the trust of local government authorities, to the point that when it’s time to decide on the local budgets, these youth councils are being consulted to see if the budget make sense,” Saji Prelis, director for children and youth programs at Search for Common Ground, highlighted.

Promote intergenerational exchange

Rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects seeking the engagement of youths should also include parents and elders.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created.” — Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their entourage. Yet adults might perceive youth-led initiatives as a threat to their own power and position. This points to the need for youth peace-building projects to be accompanied by dialogue and cooperation between young people, their relatives and community elders.

“Seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and participate in awareness-raising among the wider population,” Vroeg suggested.

Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, youths can demonstrate the benefits of their peace actions. Such communication and collaboration channels also enable young people and adults to explore the common problems they face and to tackle them together, thus participating in the emergence of sustainable solutions.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created,” Flemming underlined.

Strengthen monitoring and evaluation

While efficiencies can always be found, monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives capitalizing on youth engagement.

Suffering from a chronic lack of financial support, youth peace-building activities often have very limited ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their work — a situation that seriously impedes the visibility and sustainability of their initiatives.

But beyond increased financial support, innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution must be used — particularly those that build on qualitative evidence and participative approaches.

“Surveys, focus groups and interviews are considered as the gold standard of inquiry, but those are adult methods of articulating evidence and showcasing impact, which ultimately benefit only adults,” Pralis told Devex. “Instead, we should make evaluation conversational and youth-led, as this works for everybody.”

The evaluation process recently started by the Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding — a coalition of local youth groups and international organizations — is particularly illustrative. It allows young people to take an active role in determining evaluation design, data collection methods and information analyses.

Support youths who are positively contributing to their communities.

Finally, it’s crucial to avoid rewarding “bad behavior” by incentivizing young people who are positively contributing to their communities.

Current youth programming focuses much of its attention on young individuals who were troublemakers or soldiers. This effectively rewards youths for joining armed groups — or is at least perceived as doing so by local communities.

“In general, young people feel marginalized and their voices are not heard or trusted as credible. But when they commit violence, the international community rushes in,” Prelis noted. “We have to be more conscious, cautious and thoughtful in our approach to youth engagement and avoid sending the message that we only care about you when you cause harm.”

Simple rewarding systems such as certificates, prizes and scholarships can serve as great incentives for youth. They can also inspire their peers to take action and participate in peace programs.

Further, try to situate your organization’s programming for young people within larger peacebuilding efforts. Without comprehensive efforts to change the underlying factors that contributed to war in the first place, youths might feel that their efforts are in vain.

This articles was first published on Youthwill Build Peace

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