Many of today’s youth, at 1.8 billion worldwide, live in areas affected by conflict. The predominant narrative depicts young men as perpetrators of violence and young women as victims. The U.S. Institute of Peace sees youth as agents for positive change and works to equip young peacebuilders with the knowledge and skills they need to bring divided communities together and to manage conflict nonviolently. USIP also helps its youth partners conduct and publish research in their communities, enabling them to develop local solutions to problems and allowing them to be active contributors to the field of peacebuilding.
Intermittently, images spring from the news to shock us with the suffering of children brutalized by war or their families' desperate flight as refugees. Three years ago, the body of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy drowned on a Turkish beach, administered that shock. Central American children uprooted by the violence of Honduras or El Salvador now underscore the same message—that amid the world's people scarred by war and violence, a special danger is children. Among the 65 million people torn from their homes, most by warfare, roughly half are children.
More than two years after the United Nations began leading an internationally backed peace process for Libya, that effort faces severe challenges. Rival Libyan regimes still claim national authority, and battles among hundreds of militia groups continue. Amid the turmoil, however, young Libyans are leading peacebuilding efforts in their local communities.
As Tunisia last month celebrated the 2011 overthrow of its dictatorship, thousands of young Tunisians protested in streets nationwide, often clashing with police. Young Tunisians widely voice an angry despair at being unemployed, untrained for jobs, and unable to build futures for themselves. The single democracy to have arisen from the Arab Spring uprisings is undermined by the feelings of hopelessness among many youth, and by their exploitation by extremist groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaida. To help Tunisian, U.S. and other efforts to build hope for Tunisia’s youth, a small, USIP-funded project is measuring which kinds of programs are actually effective.
Afghanistan’s next generation of leaders have an opportunity to break out of the cycles of violence that have caused civil wars, insurgencies, and widespread human rights abuses and domestic violence over the past decades. To do this, government officials and community leaders need to have practical skills to identify sources of conflict and know how to de-escalate tensions and negotiate peaceful solutions.
Join us for 60 days of learning to highlight the connections among youth, peace and gender equality. We’ll celebrate the stories of young women and men working for peace, and we’ll exchange crucial skills and approaches for building more inclusive societies.
The U.S. Institute of Peace and His Holiness the Dalai Lama have joined to strengthen the abilities of youth leaders working to build peace in the world’s most violent regions. USIP and the Dalai Lama hosted a dialogue in May 2016 with 28 such peacebuilders drawn from networks of the Institute and its partners in 13 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Many of these countries face the world’s deadliest wars, as well as campaigns by extremist groups to incite youth to violence. T...