Era of Youth: UN Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.
27 Oct 2016 by Thevuni Kotigala
Young people worldwide are rising as agents for change, demanding their rights to freedom and opportunities, as they are in a need to accomplish their aspirations for better lives. In December 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, recognizing the important and the positive role young men and women play in sustaining and promoting international peace and security. Until this significant moment, contribution of young people to peace and security processes has largely remained unrecognized, invisible and undermined. This historic moment instilled the belief in nations that young people are a force for peace, democracy, equality and good governance. Such global beliefs become influential for effective participation of young women and men in the development and social transformation processes, as it paves the way for youth engagement in decision making.
Today, there is a significant youth bulge in most countries, which makes it more vital than ever that we engage in practical actions that matches the sense of urgency and impatience of the younger generations. In such circumstances, it is important to engage youth in shaping durable peace in their communities, especially in a post-conflict context. But there are many practical and structural difficulties existing in both national and international levels, as youth and their opinions are not highly regarded and quickly disposed.
Developing meaningful mechanisms for youth participation and decision-making from the local to national and then international level is essential, as it will increase the recognition and support to the critical role youth play in conflict prevention transformation. Despite the fact most youth are not involved in violent extremism, youth have been labeled both nationally and internationally as radicals and troublemakers. It is an undeserved label for the youth who are actively involved in the peacebuilding and transformation processes worldwide. This is where the Resolution 2250 plays its vital role by challenging the existing negative perception on youth, and recognizing them as positive agents for change and catalysts for peace.
In an era of social media, the world is very connected for some and very disconnected for others. Lately, social media has been used as a platform to spread extremist voices that triggers the moderate voices to join extremism. In order to make youth a part of the solution rather than the problem, it is important to get them actively involved in positive peacebuilding processes. Young lives are integrally connected with social change, thus exposing them to constant vulnerability. For this exact reason, youth must commit to build a youth participatory environment that benefits them and the world. It is evident that many extremist groups today use youth to propagate their mandates. Therefore, commonalities in youth grievances must be used as a platform to engage the young people from different walks of life, reducing their vulnerability to recruitment by extremist groups. Youth opinions and experiences must be used as a tool to counter and prevent violent extremism, and building sustainable peace.
Today, many young lives endlessly toggle between ‘no hope’ and ‘false hope’. As a result, youth are driven into violent extremism – perhaps because non-violence isn’t as appealing to them. Yet the path of violence brings only temporary result; it becomes the origin to many other problems.
Youth generally look for exciting goals to work towards, that brings out immediate results, attention and change. But more often than not, addressing peace and security issues are met through processes and procedures which are slow and stagnant - young people are seeking for quick results to the issues they face. On the other hand, for the solutions to be steady and stable, a thorough and a holistic system must exist. Therefore, striking the right balance between the time and the quality of the solution still remains a challenge when engaging youth in the peace and security processes.
Coming from a war-torn country, I have realized the importance of youth voices being heard and considered important. The longer the youth are kept away from decision-making, the more youth unrest and rebels will be encountered by the world. Being a young woman in a country going through a post-war phase, my prime purpose is to represent the many unheard voices of youth, especially those who have been the direct victims of the brutal war. Giving a voice to the voiceless and fetching grass-root level issues to the decision-making table is what drives me as a member of the advisory panel. I have come across many individuals as well as local and international organizations, which have been making tremendous contributions to the peace, reconciliation and security processes for many years. I believe all those scattered and isolated efforts must come together to create a superior force over violent extremism. Moreover, I commit throughout the progress study to identify such collaborations, models, systems, processes and procedures that would direct the world to counter and prevent violent extremism. Making a collective effort to bridge the gap in between the grass-root level and policy level requires consistent support of many individuals, institutions and organizations. Therefore I urge both individuals and organizations to join hands and contribute to the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security - it is a remarkable opportunity to create a space for youth. Bear in mind that, creating opportunity for youth engagement is indeed creating opportunity for a better future.