DECONSTRUCTING THE ROLE OF YOUTH IN PEACEBUILDING | Youth Peacebuilding in Practice | The Youth Cafe

The Youth Cafe is taking part in an online consultation on Youth and Peacebuilding at the invitation of Peace Direct and the United Network of Young (UNOY) Peacebuilders! The three days consultations are exploring what youth-led peacebuilding looks like in practice and understanding how to operationalise the principles behind the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. 

Session one: Youth peacebuilding in practice: exploring approaches, tools and interventions

The role of youth in peacebuilding processes has increasingly been recognised as essential to positively transforming conflicts and building the foundations of peaceful and democratic societies. However, much of this discourse focuses on generalisations and often fails to highlight the evidence behind these assertions. As a result, key decision makers tend to have a limited understanding of what youth-led peacebuilding looks like in practice.

The reality is that the evidence base on what works in youth peacebuilding strategies and programmes remains limited. As such, identifying and measuring what initiatives have positive impact on the lives of young people and their communities is vital to scaling up effective support to youth around the world.

Recent efforts by civil society organisations and youth experts have helped to advance practitioners, donors and policymakers’ understanding of youth peacebuilding in the field. The UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) Working Group developed a Practice Note highlighting promising practices in policy and youth programmes around the world.  Likewise, the UNOY Peacebuilders and Search for Common Ground developed The Global Survey on Youth, Peace and Security to map out the activities of youth-led organisations working globally on peace and security. In turn, many of these initiatives helped feed into the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, which has helped to define a strategy for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2250.

These studies have highlighted many examples of different approaches, tools and interventions that young people use to contribute to peacebuilding in their communities. These include among others:

  • Strengthening community cohesion and reconciliation through intercommunal, religious and ethnic dialogues and events (e.g. exhibitions, plays, sports, concerts);

  • Building civic awareness through debates and public campaigns (e.g. peace walks, rallies and social media movements);

  • Engaging in community entrepreneurship and livelihoods programmes through capacity building and trainings;

  • Advocating for the participation and inclusion of youth in decision-making by participating in conferences, producing policy papers, organising forums, etc;

  • Establishing alliances, networks, councils and clubs to connect young peacebuilders, build their capacity and leadership, and promote their participation in peacebuilding frameworks.

Much of the value of this work lies in youth’s ability for outreach and mobilisation, reaching young people that governments and international organisations often fail to reach. They are very much at the frontlines of peacebuilding in their community, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of their youth constituencies.

While the evidence gap is clearly closing, there is still a need to map out the innovative ways in which youth peacebuilders operate within their context, in order to demonstrate that investing in youth peacebuilders is key to building resilience among their communities and countries.


  1. What does youth-led peacebuilding look like in your context?

  2. How are you contributing to peace and advancing the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda?

  3. How are you innovating in the field? Please list creative approaches that you use in your peacebuilding work.

  4. What does resilience look like in your context?

Summary from session one

Today’s discussion focused on deconstructing the role of youth in peacebuilding, seeking to map out what youth-led peacebuilding looks like in practice and move away from simplified narratives around youth by highlighting their diversity and the gender dynamics that underpin youth peacebuilding.

We had excellent participation on our first day, with over 132 participants joining in from across the globe! Participants have added some 176 comments so far (and counting).

All participants have raised very important issues, and in an effort to summarise today’s discussion we have pulled together some of the key points raised to give you an idea of the conversations that are currently taking place. We apologise in advance if we could not incorporate everyone’s insights. You can still continue to review and add comments to each of these threads throughout the week. Many thanks to our moderators for their active role in facilitating the discussions.

Youth peacebuilding in practice

Our first session sparked a high level of interest from participants early on. Not only is this an issue that affects them on a personal level but the ongoing implementation of the 2250 UN resolution worldwide is also present on many peoples’ minds. Many participants have discussed the legitimacy and value of young people’s role in peacebuilding as well as the availability of spaces and tools for these initiatives to happen. Participants have been able to self-reflect on the positives and negatives of these types of initiatives and have brought up potential solutions to these issues.

Key points:

“Resolution 2250 is supposed to be the thrust of youth led initiatives in peacebuilding. However, this has not been much of a success […] lack of government support, inadequate donor funding, being looked upon as too young, irrelevant and inexperienced. In many conflict setups we youths are seen to be people that do not understand topical issues because when some conflicts started we were either too young or not yet born.” Keith Sibanda

 “I am of the view that the civil society needs to advocate for further amendments to the composition and functions of certain ministries and departments, so as to meaningfully engage young people from state to local level, rather than such initiatives being the reserve of the civil society.” Sebastian Paalo

“Technology and devices [are] just a temporary toolkit in the hands of people. If you talk about the theory of inventions, 100 years ago, know-how, like a novelty, was enough for a dozen years, then today, 2-3 years and new developments, inventions strike the minds of humanity. But this does not mean that it is necessary to admire this, the intellectual potential should be a lever for the development of many nations and nationalities.” Jannat Rakhimova

“How do we engage and provide platforms [for the youth] without tokenistic involvement?” Amjad Saleem