The U.S Institute of Peace created the Youth Country Liaison (YCL) initiative to improve linkages between USIP country teams and USIP Generation Change fellows. As part of the initiative, the liaisons provide consultation within USIP and provide a youth-focused lens for USIP regional teams as they design and implement programs and activities. The Youth Country Liaison is a volunteer position for a duration of one year. The initiative has been designed to improve fellows’ leadership and communication skills and obtain experience which can be employed in international peacebuilding organizations. The initiative also supports regional teams by providing youth thought leadership and the unique insights and perspectives that young people bring to peacebuilding.

A group of youth from India, Pakistan and Myanmar participate in a conflict management exercise during a training in Bangkok Thailand on June 24, 2018
A group of youth from India, Pakistan and Myanmar participate in a conflict management exercise during a training in Bangkok Thailand, June 2018.

More than ever, young people are critical to peace and stability across the globe. They foster understanding across ethnic and religious divides, enhance gender equality, and provide alternatives to violence on a local, national, or regional scale. USIP’s Generation Change Fellowship Program identifies and works with youth leaders who are active leaders and advocates for peace in their communities. As part of the fellowship, these youth leaders have undergone USIP’s leadership and conflict management trainings and are in a unique position to provide youth lenses and insights to peacebuilding projects.

USIP regional teams recognize the importance of having more youth inclusion in their work and have worked with the USIP youth team in creating the Youth Country Liaison Initiative to bridge this divide. Working in close collaboration with regional teams, this initiative strengthens linkages between GCFP fellows and USIP teams and supports regional teams in designing and implementing more inclusive youth peacebuilding projects. 

Through a rigourous application and selection process, USIP regional and youth teams recently selected one fellow per country or region to be a part of the inaugural cohort of the Youth Country Liaison initiative.

View former liaisons

Youth Country Liaison Members

Nabil Youssouf Abdi, Somalia

Nabil Youssouf Abdi, Somalia

Nabil Youssouf Abdi is an environmental peace and development practitioner. He has over 12 years of experience responding to humanitarian development crises and strengthening national capacities for improved decision-making. Nabil currently works as a program analyst for the Global Environmental Governance Project with the United Nations Development Program. He is a young active entrepreneur and an established peacebuilding trainer on conflict analysis, mediation, and conciliation. Nabil has a bachelor’s in business and administration, a postgraduate diploma in peace and conflict studies, and a master’s in environmental development and peace.

Paul Abutu, Nigeria

Paul Abutu, Nigeria

Paul Abutu is a peacebuilder with over fifteen years of experience working with young people. He is passionate about leadership, innovative peacebuilding, storytelling, and countering sexual and gender-based violence. Paul currently engages with Innov8 Hub, an Abuja-based innovation startup hub that focuses on initiating innovative and smart solutions for peacebuilding and conflict management through strategic programs and fellowships. Paul uses his skills to train youth on how to adopt digital media and content development for peacebuilding and conflict management. Paul participated in USIP’s Generation Change Fellows Program in 2016 and served as a USIP Youth Advisory Council member from 2020-2021.

Hamed Ahmadi, Afghanistan

Hamed Ahmadi (Afghanistan)

Hamed Ahmadi is a peacebuilder, blogger, and the founder of Grassroots Peace in Afghanistan. He embarked on his peacebuilding journey in 2015, when he along with nine other young people formed a group of aspiring peacebuilders called Afghan Youth for Peace (AYP). As part of AYP, he first received a comprehensive set of training on nonviolent communications, peace mediation, and conflict resolution provided by the Civil Peace Service. He then started to work as co-facilitator in IDP camps in northern Afghanistan.

For the past two years, Hamed has worked with the International Psychosocial Organization (IPSO) coordinating the Young Leaders Programme in 10 provinces of Afghanistan. Through the program, he encourages and supports young peoples to engage in their respective communities and facilitate dialogues on a range of topics that are relevant to their daily lives, as well as to implement small-scale community projects that promotes understanding in the community. He also writes the inspiring stories of young people’s meaningful engagement in their communities and publishes them on IPSO’s blog for the national and international audiences.

In early 2020, he founded Grassroots Peace, an initiative aimed to enable local capacities with necessary knowledge and skills for facilitating community dialogues and resolving conflicts through nonviolent actions.

Evelyn Anyiko, Uganda

Evelyn Anyiko, Uganda

Evelyn Anyiko is a peacebuilder, social scientist, and volunteer at Not Forsaken Child, an organization that works to implement development programs and train youth and community members on peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Evelyn also works with Children’s Hope Chest, where she helps orphans and vulnerable children who live in regions that are affected by civil war. She is passionate about empowering youth and adults by providing them with knowledge and skills that enable them to live peacefully and to become aware of their rights.

Maria José Brito, Venezuela

Maria José Brito, Venezuela

Maria José Brito is a young lawyer who has experience working in social activism. Since the age of 17, Maria José served as an activist for the recovery of democracy in Venezuela, and at her university she was a student leader involved with teaching peacebuilding mechanisms at citizen participation workshops. She is the Project Director at A.C. Consorcio, Desarrollo & Justicia in Caracas, Venezuela, as well as the Director of the Permanent Youth Forum and the Initiative for the Construction of Peace; Acorde 33. Maria José holds diplomas in political management, governance, and human rights. She believes that Venezuela can regain its stability, and she therefore strives to create impact strategies aimed at Venezuelan youth throughout the country.

Hein Paing Htoo Chit, Myanmar

Hein Paing Htoo Chit, Myanmar

Dr. Hein Paing Htoo Chit is an educator, peacebuilder, and social entrepreneur. He graduated from the University of Medicine Magway and traveled to serve in conflict-affected areas across Myanmar until late 2015. In 2016, Dr. Hein founded SEED for Myanmar as a community library, which was later developed into a social impact organization. Today, SEED for Myanmar has trained over two thousand people in soft skills, leadership, and social entrepreneurship. In addition to his role as executive director at SEED for Myanmar, Dr. Hein works as a freelance consultant focusing on peacebuilding and socioeconomic development. His mission is to help youth become active citizens, responsible leaders, and social entrepreneurs so that they can participate in decision-making to create a more peaceful and sustainable future. Dr. Hein participated in USIP’s Generation Change Exchange with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2019. 

Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, Central African Republic

Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, Central African Republic

Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet is a community leader and the founder of the nonprofit organization URU, where she promotes effective youth participation in the Central African Republic’s peace and recovery process. In 2016, the United Nations appointed Kessy as an expert for the Progress Study on the Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda. Since then, she briefed the UN Security Council and serves as a member of the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security. In 2021, Kessy founded Peace and Development Watch Central African Republic, a consulting firm that specializes in project monitoring and evaluation. She holds a master’s in geopolitics, international security, and sociology from the Catholic Institute of Paris. 

Elizabeth Achu Jervase, South Sudan

Elizabeth Achu Jervase, South Sudan

Elizabeth Achu Jervase is an economist, researcher, and peace advocate. She has been working in peacebuilding and transformational leadership since 2010, when she chaired the Khartoum University Southern Sudanese Students Association. Elizabeth is the founder of the South Sudan Youth Society for Peaceful Coexistence, an organization that employs patriotism and volunteerism to uphold peaceful coexistence. She is also the founder of the Sawa Sawa Network, a multimedia platform that leverages the power of technology to promote peace and development in South Sudan. Elizabeth participated in USIP’s Generation Change Exchange with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2019. She holds a master’s in economics and finance for development and a bachelor’s in economics and social statistics.

Meron Kocho, Iraq

Meron Kocho, Iraq

Meron Kocho graduated from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in 2015 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. After completing his studies, he became an active member of his community, where he volunteered in various activities, such as helping refugees and teaching kids. Meron’s volunteer leadership motivates him to make positive changes towards peace so that he can live peacefully in Iraq with his big family like in earlier times. Meron currently works as an engineer in the oil industry.

Muborak Muqimi, Tajikistan

Muborak Muqimi, Tajikistan

Muborak Muqimi is a trainer who specializes in women’s improvement, volunteerism, leadership, and peacebuilding. Her mission is to empower women to take leadership roles and to maximize their potential in economic growth. For the past eight years, Muborak has taught classes about girls’ rights to education, women’s equality, and human rights. The Ministry of Education in Tajikistan honored Muborak with the Women Human Rights Defended Award for her work on girls’ education in Tajikistan. Muborak is earning her doctorate in economic science.

Mehwish Niaz, Pakistan

Mehwish Niaz, Pakistan

Mehwish Niaz is a communication expert, civic educator, community mobilizer, and development practitioner in Pakistan. In addition to earning her master’s in philosophy, Mehwish works on peace education and youth participation in economic crises. In 2008, Mehwish initiated the Laureate Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports vulnerable youth during times of disaster, terrorism, and ethnic conflict. Mehwish also works as a freelance development communications consultant and as a lead trainer focusing on issues related to youth, governance and accountability, and education. She has experience with grassroots campaigning, high-level lobbying, and advocacy on the issues of minority rights and youth participation in Pakistan.

 Nazmus Sadat, Bangladesh

Nazmus Sadat, Bangladesh

Nazmus Sadat works at the intersections of human society, economy, environment, and technology. He is an internationally trained consultant on e-waste management and its policy development, and an advocate for total efficient e-waste management in Bangladesh. Currently, Nazmus leads the growth division of NITEX, where he manages external communications, opportunities for foreign expansion, collaboration, and partnerships at the organization. Nazmus also leads the nonprofit DearBUBU, an organization that empowers people with wellness literacy, while promoting dialogue and non-violent communication strategies in every sphere of life.

Sebastián Arévalo Sánchez, Colombia

Sebastián Arévalo Sánchez, Colombia

Sebastián Arévalo Sánchez is the cofounder and CEO of Fundación Pasos Libres, the Latam regional representative of the Traffik Analysis Hub, and a master’s student of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. His areas of expertise focus on building strategic relationships with the private sector, academia, and international cooperation to develop innovative solutions to disrupt human trafficking and forced labor. In 2019, Avianca Magazine recognized Sebastián as one of the 100 Latin Americans who inspire and create a better future. 

Latest Publications

In Nicaragua, Crackdown on Religious Actors Further Imperils Return Democracy

In Nicaragua, Crackdown on Religious Actors Further Imperils Return Democracy

Friday, October 7, 2022

By: Maria Antonia Montes ;  Savarni Sanka

In recent months, Nicaragua’s government has escalated its effort to silence dissent by waging a systematic campaign of repression against the Catholic Church. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo’s crackdown on clergy and church-affiliated organizations critical of their authoritarian regime not only threatens Nicaragua’s religious freedom but also erects significant roadblocks to the country’s return to peace and democracy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceReligion

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

Thursday, October 6, 2022

By: Jawhara Kanu;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Three and a half years after Sudan’s military deposed the authoritarian ruler, Omar Bashir, in response to massive protests, the current military leadership and divisions among political factions are stalling a return to elected civilian government. This year has brought a deepening economic crisis and violent communal clashes — but also a new wave of nonviolent, grassroots campaigns for a return to democracy. As Sudanese democracy advocates and their international allies seek ways to press the military for that transition, all sides should note, and work to sustain, Sudan’s nonviolent civic action.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceNonviolent Action

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Josh Martin;  Meghann Perez;  Ruben Grangaard

Although social contract theory—the idea that encountering someone with a different group identity can lead to greater understanding, empathy, and trust—has become a bedrock of most peacebuilding initiatives in recent decades, doubts remain about whether such initiatives prevent violence. This report provides practical insights and recommendations for improving peacebuilding efforts by more effectively factoring an understanding of human behavior into the design, implementation, and evaluation of social contact interventions.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent Action

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Xi Kicks Off Campaign for a Chinese Vision of Global Security

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

Earlier this month Chinese leader Xi Jinping made his first foreign trip since the coronavirus outbreak, joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The summit was Xi’s first in-person opportunity to win support outside of China’s borders for his new Global Security Initiative (GSI), which he launched in April. While the GSI remains notional and somewhat vague, Xi is on the offensive, seeking to position his vision of a new global security architecture as an alternative to the Western-led security order. In an era of heightened strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, Xi’s GSI campaign could amount to yet another challenge to the U.S.-China relationship and the two countries’ ability to peacefully manage differences.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Mary Glantz, Ph.D.;  Mona Yacoubian

Vladimir Putin is under increased pressure as Russia continues to lose ground inside Ukraine. Faced with the prospect of stark losses — potentially leaving Russia in a worse position than before its February 24 invasion — Moscow may be embarked on an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy. By raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation twice in recent weeks, Putin may in fact be seeking a way out of his dilemma marked by Russia’s strategic failure in Ukraine. The coming weeks will be critical as Putin pursues nuclear brinksmanship — possibly even repositioning tactical nuclear weapons — while actually seeking an exit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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