Peacebuilding has increasingly recognised the importance of ‘the local’ as a crucial site in responding to conflict in ways that build durable and relevant peace. Yet theorising about ‘the local’ or ‘the everyday’ has often still overlooked children and youth as marginal and of little concern. I argue that international relations has long considered youth of peripheral concern and this is inadequate. If we are serious about building meaningful and enduring peace we must account for those experiences often marginalised, including those of young people.
My PhD work was grounded in the stories and experiences shared with me by young people who lived in an informal community on the outskirts of Colombia’s capital Bogota. It argues that young people in this community are active meaning makers in their everyday life, and engaged participants of their community. While protracted conflict and profound precarity have a significant impact on young people these experiences are not totalising. Young people find ways of resisting violence and building collective resilience amidst the everyday violence of their lives. My 2018 book Young People and Everyday Peace: Exclusion, Insecurity and Peacebuilding in Colombia, which builds on my PhD work, argues that centring the margins, taking seriously the lived experience of young people who live in liminal spaces, opens up a conceptual space that allows a rich, irreducible account of efforts to build peace within the everyday, amidst violence.
I have published other work on young people and peace in Colombia, including pieces in Peacebuilding, International Journal of Children’s Rights, and Critical Studies on Security. In 2012, I was an opinion columnist for Colombia Reports, including writing on the then-proposed framework for peace, of encompassing peace frameworks, and the inclusion of women in peacemaking.
With Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, I co-edited a special issue of Peacebuilding on Youth and Everyday Peace bringing sustained attention to how to pay meaningful attention to youth in peacebuilding.
Youth, Peace and Security
More recently my work is exploring the question of young people’s role in formal peace architecture. Taking the groundbreaking 2015 UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) as the pivot point, this work explores the role of young people, and particularly youth-led organisations in advocating for the YPS resolution and subsequent agenda as well as their involvement in implementation in national contexts.
Lesley Pruitt and I commented on the passage of the 2015 UNSC Resolution 2250 for The Conversation. In early 2018 the UN held the first Open Debate on YPS, and I wrote for AIIA’s Australian Outlook about why Australia is well positioned to be a regional leader in this space. Further work in this space is in progress.
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