Panel Discussions - Thursday, April 24, 2014
Principles for Youth and Peacebuilding
There are some 1.2 billion young people in the world today, and many are counted as part of the 1.5 billion living in war-affected areas, noted Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Policy Analyst at the International Peace Institute on April 24th. Ms. Ó Súilleabháin quoted the statistic while chairing a panel discussion to launch the book Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding.
With as much as 70 percent of populations in many African and the Middle Eastern nations under 35, no lasting peace can be “initiated or achieved” without the participation of these unprecedented concentrations of young people, said Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
Representing one youthful peacebuilding organization, Nour, a fifteen-year-old board member of the Lebanese Children’s Council, provided insight into how young people can be engaged in building peace. Nour and her peers host retreats and events for kids and young adults from various religious and ethnic backgrounds, she explained.
“Sometimes people ask us what we think, but they don’t really listen to us,” she said of her experience before joining the Lebanese Children’s Council.
The organization holds discussions on anti-discrimination and gender parity issues, and recently the Lebanese Children’s Council produced a report on challenges for young Syrians in refugee camps and communities outside their war-torn country, she said.
Henk-Jan Brinkman, Chief of the Policy at Planning and Application Branch of UN PBSO, said it’s essential to seek out young people and engage them in collaborative environments and enable complementary learning for young peacebuilders. But, he said, we need to be “sensitive to the divides among youth,” including victims as well as perpetrators of violence. "We need to learn how to “engage them without incentivizing them,” he said.
Five Degrees of Influence
Young people can make both positive and negative contributions to ending conflict, said Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland.
Olivier Nduhungirehe, Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations, agreed with Mr. Seger. Youth are at times “manipulated for political action and even mass atrocities,” he said.
However, the margin between youth engaging in combat versus peace is not too great, argued Mr. Prelis. “The decision points for a young person to commit violence versus to be a peacebuilder is not 180 degrees,” he said. “It’s really five degrees we are looking at changing or influencing.”
Armed actors are “fantastic” at engaging young people, and “providing them the opportunity to express themselves, whether it is for good or bad is immaterial,” he said in closing. “We are not that great at it yet. We need to get better at it.”
The event was cosponsored by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN, the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, Search for Common Ground, and World Vision International.
The Global Observatory
Risk and Robustness: A Conversation with Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A conversation with Nassim Nicholas Taleb about the concepts of risk, resilience, volatility, and their meaning for international relations.
Key Global Events to Watch in September
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
September 19, 2014
Madani: Extremist Group Actions “Cannot be Associated with Any Religion”
Iyad Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reaffirmed at IPI the Muslim world’s commitment to religious tolerance and human rights and sought to distance Islam from the recent violent actions at the hands of extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East.
September 15, 2014
Despite Disaffection, Youth Still Engaged with Democracy
Young people around the world appear increasingly disaffected with politics and political institutions, particularly in countries where corruption is rampant and government accountability is lacking. Yet during a September 15th event commemorating the International Day of Democracy, a group of young political activists from three different continents spoke at IPI about recent gains in youth political activism and ways to encourage it.
September 10, 2014
Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914
On September 10-11, 2014, the International Peace Institute launched its inaugural meeting at its Middle East Regional Office in Manama, Bahrain titled “Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future: The Middle East After 1914.”
September 17, 2014
Video: Strengthening Democratic Governance in Africa