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.

Speakers

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

How Mass Kidnappings of Students Hinder Nigeria’s Future

How Mass Kidnappings of Students Hinder Nigeria’s Future

Thursday, July 8, 2021

By: MaryAnne Iwara

This week’s latest mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolchildren underscores that the crumbling of human security in Africa’s most populous nation is worsening a deeper impairment, hollowing out Nigeria’s education system to create a “lost generation” of youth across much of the country. Alarmingly, one in five of the world’s out-of-school children is Nigerian. As Nigerian and international policymakers focus on the immediate crises—of kidnappings, Boko Haram’s extremist violence, and conflict between farming and herding communities—they must urgently rescue and buttress the country’s damaged education system. Reducing violence and achieving development in Africa will depend on an effective strategy for doing so.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human Rights; Youth

Four Lessons I Learned from the Dalai Lama

Four Lessons I Learned from the Dalai Lama

Monday, April 5, 2021

By: Lorena Gómez Ramírez

In October 2019, I visited Dharamsala, a small town in northwestern India where the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans have made their home. I consider myself blessed not only to have eaten momos, grilled vegetables, bananas and bread with the Dalai Lama, but also for having shared those moments with 22 other youth leaders who came from countries like Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia, among others. I met the Dalai Lama and other youth peacebuilders as part of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Generation Change Fellows Program. Everything I heard from them and the Dalai Lama touched me in a profound way.

Type: Blog

Youth

View All Publications