Since the establishment of the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda in 2015 with UN Security Council Resolution 2250, heightened attention has been paid to the relationship between youth peacebuilders and institutions responsible for building peace. While transforming formal spaces for peace is an important priority for the pursuit of inclusive practices; the foundational peace work youth are doing in their communities should not be overlooked or underestimated. Valuing the contributions of youth to peace requires that we acknowledge the multitude of spaces where youth are leading, and innovating, despite limited access to resources and heightened security threats.
Youth are leaders in peace not merely beneficiaries of peace processes. Efforts toward implementing inclusive strategies within formal institutions, and to create platforms for coordination between the informal and formal work have been slow, hard fought and largely stuck in the “ideas” phase. Yet, transitioning from ideas to action requires understanding the work being done by youth.
This project models a youth-led, adult-supported approach to research, and involved the three youth researchers undertaking virtual interviews with youth peacebuilders in Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar in 2021.
- “Making Noise and Getting Things Done: Youth Inclusion and Advocacy for Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar” – Publicly available report, which includes recommendations for how allies and the international community can engage more meaningfully with youth peacebuilders to empower their leadership for peace.
- Recording of Report Launch for “Making Noise and Getting Things Done”, featuring the three youth researcher co-leads and youth peacebuilders.
- Summary blog about the Report co-authored by the youth researcher co-leads.
- “Despite Conflict, COVID and Coups: Youth leadership and inclusive peace”. Invited Research Seminar, presented by Helen Berents. Griffith Asia Institute (GAI), Griffith University. 26 August.
- “Afghan Youth Fight for their Future“, Australian Outlook, co-authored by Savannah Spalding (country-lead researcher for Afghanistan) and Helen Berents in August 2021.
- “Resourcing Youth-Led Peace Work: Commit to the Long Term and the Local“, Australian Outlook, authored by Caitlin Mollica, 24 March 2022.
Academic publications in process, this list will be updated.
Key Messages from ‘Making Noise and Getting Things Done’ report
Evident across the three countries is the urgent need for international stakeholders to meaningfully include, support, and fund youth peacebuilders. Youth and their leadership for peace is now more visible than ever, yet these advocates face very real challenges for the continuation of this work. Formal peace processes must seek to adopt practices that are inclusive at all stages and of all youth, including voices of dissent. At the same time, youth-led organizations must be meaningfully supported to continue their vital peace work that is committed to building the foundational conditions for peace. Renewed efforts are needed to close the gap between formal and informal space for peace to enable and empower youth’s voices across the peacebuilding landscape. The report offers five key messages that reflect youth peacebuilders’ recommendations:
- Enable and foster networks for youth peacebuilders connecting formal and informal processes and initiatives.
- Support and facilitate substantive youth inclusion in formal peace processes.
- Commit to long-term funding, training, and resourcing of youth initiatives to create the conditions for peace agreements to be reached, and to ensure they endure.
- Ensure protection for young people involved in peace processes and peace advocacy.
- Prioritise practices that ensure substantive attention to the inclusion of a diverse range of youth in formal and informal peace processes
Read the full report, Making Noise and Getting Things Done: Youth Inclusion and Advocacy for Peace. Lessons from Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar, here.
Funding and Support
We are exceptionally grateful to the many youth peacebuilders in Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar who spoke with us for this project. We know how valuable your time is and the risks you navigate to undertake your vitally important work.
This project was supported and facilitated by Search for Common Ground Children & Youth Program. We are very grateful for the support of Saji Prelis, Program Director Children & Youth, and Search for Common Ground staff.
Research for this project was funded by an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (DE200100937) held by Dr Helen Berents, as well as the Queensland University of Technology Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES), and the Queensland University of Technology Centre for Justice.
Illustrations by Marigold Bartlett