The Peacebuilding Brief Issue 2, December 2015
Security Council adopts historic resolution on Youth, Peace and Security following Global Forum in Jordan by PBSO
Ms. Alaa Toutounji, a 27-year old young woman from Syria working on providing humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians, was one of 200 young peacebuilders who joined the Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security in Amman, Jordan, this past August. Alaa and her peers from over 100 countries, coming from all regions of the world, shared over the course of two intense days of immensely powerful testimonies of the peacebuilding work they carry out in their countries, often with little support, acknowledgement, funding or even basic security. They talked about their hopes for peace and the end of militaristic approaches, the role of young women for peace and security, the courage of young refugees and internally-displaced people, how young people are involved in countering violent extremism, as well as their involvement in governance in peacebuilding contexts. The Amman Youth Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security, which was developed based on inputs from over 11,000 young people from around the world, was adopted at the Global Forum and called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution recognizing the work of young peacebuilders and calling on Member States to support them.
On 9 December 2015, the Security Council unanimously adopted an historic resolution on youth, peace and security (S/RES/2015/2250), focusing for the first time on the positive role of young men and women play for building sustainable peace. The resolution was sponsored by Jordan, as a direct followup to the Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security, as well as the Open Debate in the Security Council in April 2015, which were both organized by Jordan. The resolution fulfills the commitment expressed by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II at the Global Forum that Jordan would use its seat at the Security Council to bring young people’s voices to the Security Council.
The Security Council resolution reflects the shift that has taken place from seeing young men and women as victims or threats to recognizing the positive role that they play in sustaining peace. The resolution represents an unprecedented acknowledgment of the urgent need to engage young men and women in prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, reconciliation and countering violent extremism. The resolution urges Member States to consider ways to increase inclusive representation of youth in decision making at all levels and to offer mechanisms, develop policies and provide increased political, financial, technical and logistical support to allow youth to participate meaningfully in peace processes and peacebuilding and prevent violence. It also calls on all parties to armed conflicts to protect civilians, including youth, involve youth in the promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance and interreligious dialogue and encourage youth employment and invest in young people’s capabilities, skills and entrepreneurship. The resolution also stresses the vital role of the Peacebuilding Commission in addressing the conditions leading to violent extremism, including by encouraging engagement with youth. Finally, it requests the Secretary-General to carry out a progress study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace and to make the results of the study available to the Council and all Member States.
For the Peacebuilding Support Office, the resolution is a culmination of several years of work on youth and peacebuilding. PBSO undertook the overall coordination for the substantive preparation of the Forum, in close collaboration with the Office of the Secretary-General Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), UNFPA, UNDP, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY).
The Peacebuilding Fund has allocated about 20 per cent of its funds to programmes fully or partly targeting young people since its creation in 2007, in most cases, for economic recovery and employment programmes, but also increasingly in recent years for supporting young people’s participation and agency in rebuilding their communities.
“Do not underestimate the importance of our youth in Syria who are working tirelessly to build a future free of hate and violence. They deserve to be believed in […] I will not ask you to accomplish the monumental task of saving Syria. Instead, I will ask you to help its youth because they are the ones, the only ones, who can truly save Syria.” -Ms. Alaa Toutounji, a 27 year old peacebuilder from Syria
PBSO also helped found, in 2012, the Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding, an inter-agency platform aimed at facilitating information-sharing and coordination for the work of UN and civil society partners on youth and peacebuilding. The Working Group is co-chaired by PBSO, Search for Common Ground and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, and placed under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development.
This working group has been instrumental in rallying a great diversity of partner organizations around the theme of youth and peacebuilding. Because of the lack of a policy framework that could guide the work in this field, and because of the toooften simplistic portraying and stereotyping of young people (men in particular) as a threat to stability and young women as helpless victims, the Group developed, through a consultative process involving key UN agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, etc.) and NGOs (Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Women’s Refugee Commission, World Vision, etc.), 9 overarching Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding. These Principles, which were also noted in the Security Council resolution, were designed to enable participative, inclusive and intergenerational peacebuilding strategies and programmes that systematically promote and ensure participation and contributions of young people.
Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding
- Promote young people’s participation as an essential condition for successful peacebuilding.
- Value and build upon young people’s diversity and experiences.
- Be sensitive to gender dynamics.
- Enable young people’s ownership, leadership and accountability in peacebuilding.
- Do no harm.
- Involve young people in all stages of peacebuilding and post-conflict programming.
- Enhance the knowledge, attitudes, skills and competencies of young people for peacebuilding.
- Invest in inter-generational partnerships in young people’s communities.
- Introduce and support policies that address the full needs of young people.
The Guiding Principles have been launched in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Tunisia and Yemen. They have been endorsed by the Commonwealth Youth Ministers in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and they have also been adopted as a guiding framework for the European Commission’s Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace.
The Working Group also identified a critical knowledge and operational gap for the field of youth and peacebuilding as there is no practical tool to help guide programmatic work on young people’s participation in peacebuilding, based on a thorough analysis of effective approaches, good practices and lessons learned from the field. The Working Group, therefore, launched the development of a Practice Note on Youth & Peacebuilding, to accompany the Guiding Principles. The Practice Note, which will be finalized by the end of 2015, aims at informing policy makers and donors of key strategic and programming considerations for supporting young people’s participation to peacebuilding, in order to enhance quality and sustainability of peacebuilding interventions. It provides broad programmatic and policy guidance on youth participation in peacebuilding, illustrated by examples of what works or not in a wide-ranging set of activities that currently take place, demonstrating the importance to invest in this innovative and promising field. The Practice Note covers key policy and programmatic areas related to the field of youth and peacebuilding, from national policies and youth voluntary services to youth centers, education, governance, extractive industries, countering violent extremism and the media.
All these efforts have contributed to the growing momentum on youth and peacebuilding issues. In his speech on the International Day of Peace in September of 2015, the Secretary-General called on “all governments to empower young people to contribute to peace” and reaffirmed his “support [to] the young people who want to build peace”. There have been over 43 million impressions and interactions of the hashtag #youth4peace since April 2015 – contributing to an online global conversation on the role of youth in peacebuilding, conflict transformation and countering violent extremism.
The Peacebuilding Commission held at the end of November a meeting on youth and peacebuilding, to discuss the Amman Youth Declaration and explore how the PBC can support both policy and programmatic efforts in this area. The Peacebuilding Fund is uniquely placed to support innovative programmes on youth and peacebuilding and contribute to an improved quality, scope and funding of youth and peacebuilding programming. The Peacebuilding Support Office intends to remain at the forefront of efforts to implement the Security Council resolution, raise awareness of youth and peacebuilding and help guide discussions at both policy and programmatic levels, in close collaboration with partners from civil society and the UN system.