As the United States and its partners work to reduce the violence that has uprooted the world’s largest recorded displaced population, an often underused resource is youth. Violent conflicts are concentrated heavily in countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and others—with large youth populations. On August 8, USIP held a discussion of new ideas and resources for strengthening the role of youth who are reducing violence, improving security, and opposing violent extremism in their countries. This forum was co-sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the international peacebuilding organization Search for Common Ground, and YouthPower, which promotes positive youth development globally.

While popular culture and public narratives depict young men mainly as perpetrators of violence, and young women mainly as victims, governments and civil society groups alike are working to elevate the critical role of youth in reducing violent conflict and extremism. That effort has seen added attention in the 19 months since a U.N. Security Council resolution focused governments on the task.

This event included prominent U.S. government officials and civil society leaders, and the founder of a Nigerian youth-led peacebuilding organization working amid the country’s conflict with the Boko Haram extremist group. The conversation was streamed live to an international audience.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #Youth4Peace.


Carla Koppell, Opening Remarks
Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Aubrey Cox
Senior Program Specialist, U.S. Institute of Peace 
Imrana Buba, Founder
Youth Coalition Against Terrorism (Nigeria)

Rachel Walsh Taza
Program Coordinator, Search for Common Ground

Jenn Heeg 
Co-Champion, YouthPower Learning

Michael McCabe, Moderator
Youth Coordinator, USAID

Andy Rabens, Closing Remarks
Special Advisor, Department of State 

Related Publications

Youth, Identity, and the Post-Coup Experience in Myanmar

Youth, Identity, and the Post-Coup Experience in Myanmar

Monday, March 6, 2023

By: Isabel Chew;  Jangai Jap

One of the biggest challenges facing Myanmar today is its lack of a cohesive national identity. Its colonial legacy and half a century of authoritarian rule has reified group divisions and hardened societal cleavages, leading to negative, and sometimes outright hostile, relations between different groups. Against this background, the authors discuss how the Myanmar youth perceive their social identity, in particular national identity, and how they conceptualize notions of citizenship within the Myanmar context, as well as the implications of the coup and the post-coup experience for the youth’s perceptions of social identity and interethnic relations in Myanmar.

Type: Discussion Paper


How Do Israeli and Palestinian Youth View the Prospects for Peace?

How Do Israeli and Palestinian Youth View the Prospects for Peace?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

By: Robert Barron

Amid this year’s rising tide of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a new poll released last week by Khalil Shikaki and Dahlia Scheindlin brings more sobering news. In the study, pollsters found that in Israel, for the first time, support for a nondemocratic regime (unequal rights between Israelis and Palestinians) is stronger than a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trends among young people are especially striking — only 20 percent Israeli Jews aged 18-34 are in favor a two-state solution to the conflict.

Type: Blog

Peace ProcessesYouth

The Latest @ USIP: African Youth Ambassadors on Youth, Peace and Security

The Latest @ USIP: African Youth Ambassadors on Youth, Peace and Security

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The youth, peace and security agenda is relatively new for many parts of Africa, where young people are often absent from institutions and leadership positions that have a major impact on their lives. Several of the African Union’s youth ambassadors explore how the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit offers a chance to build partnerships — especially at the local level — that promote youth-led peacebuilding efforts, as well as how African countries can draw on U.S. experience in addressing some of the major societal challenges facing African youth, such as violent extremism, unemployment and access to services like education and health care.

Type: Blog

YouthConflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications