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.

Youth Country Liaison Members

Aung Htay Myint (Myanmar)

Aung Htay Myint (Myanmar)

Aung Htay Myint is a civic educator at the Institute for Political and Civic Engagement in Mandalay, Myanmar. He co-founded “The Siblings” in December 2014 with the purpose of educating the poor and orphans. He is a forme r member of the Mandalay Region Youth Affairs Committee chaired by the regional social welfare minister. He previously worked as a program director at Kanaung Institute, a local civil organization working to promote democracy and federalism in Myanmar. He has travelled to the United States through the YSEALI professional program to study how Alabama state legislatures function. He is a KAICIID South and South East Asia 2019 fellow as well, studying interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

Muhammad Farooq Afridi (Pakistan)

Muhammad Farooq Afridi (Pakistan)

Muhammad Farooq is a youth activist working for youth, peace, and education in northwest Pakistan. He is the country representative of International Youth Federation in Pakistan and is the founder of the Khadim ul Khalaq Foundation.

He represented Pakistan during the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka 2014, in the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta 2015, and at the Youth Innovation Lab in Malaysia in 2017. He has been honored to participate in legislative fellowship program in the United States. He was nominated for the N-Peace Award in 2015 and is the winner of the 2015 Pakistan Peace Initiative Award. Currently, he is leading a project supported by USIP on promoting peace through critical thinking.

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.

Kenaime Kangui (CAR)

Kenaime Kangui (CAR)

Kenaime Kangui is a passionate activist with over 10 years of experience in peacebuilding and civic education in the Central African Republic. In 2018, he was selected by the International Republican Institute as the first Central African youth leader to participate at the Generation Democracy Summit in Vienna, Austria. He has participated in several regional youth consultations organized by the African Union for youth policy inclusion in the African Democratic Governance.

He is an alumni of Yunus Emre Summer School, Bolu University in Turkey, and YALI East Africa at University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Recently, he founded Lego-Tia-Masseka Initiative (LETIMI), which aims to raise awareness among young people by engaging them to take part peacefully and politically in the democratic processes in CAR. He volunteers for his community as secretary general of the Young Diplomates Association, and also serves as a communication focal point for many international organizations.

Kangui holds a master’s in American studies with a specialization in the U.S. civil rights movement. Currently, Kenaime is working as a program associate at the International Republican Institute.

Luis Alvarado Bruzual (Venezuela)

Luis Alvarado Bruzual (Venezuela)

Luis is the co-founder and current president of Vayalo Foundation, a civil society organization that specializes in the advocacy for youth empowerment and the promotion of sustainable development. Luis’s work is focused on the promotion of peace education, forgiveness and reconciliation in Venezuela.

Luis is a 2019 Generation Change Fellow, member of ASHOKA network of change-makers, Official Member of Ibero-American Young, member of the International AIDS Society (IAS) and member of several networks of Human Rights activists. Luis is an Active Citizens facilitator, a program which promotes intercultural dialogue, community empowerment and sustainable development for peacebuilding in conflict affected countries.

Luisa Romero (Colombia)

Luisa Romero (Colombia)

Luisa Romero is a Colombian social entrepreneur with a strong commitment to sustainable development and peacebuilding. Her passion is to promote, lead, and support initiatives that combine technology, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable tourism for peacebuilding and the socioeconomic development of vulnerable communities affected by armed conflict or social problems. 

She is an engineer with a degree in electronics and telecommunications from the University of Cauca in Colombia and holds a master's degree in international tourism management from the University of Ulster. She is the co-founder of Get Up And Go Colombia, a local nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable tourism in former war territories through activities and projects that contribute to peacebuilding and the empowerment of the communities most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia.

For her work, Romero was selected as the worldwide winner of the "AFS Young Active Citizens" award by AFS Intercultural Programs. She was also a Chevening Scholar, a leadership award from the government of the United Kingdom.

Nyachangkuoth Rambang (South Sudan)

Nyachangkuoth Rambang (South Sudan)

Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai is a feminist, a peace activist, human rights defender and co-founder of The Mother Care Organization. She is “Big Ocean Women South Sudan” cottage president, a YALI alumni, and has won a number of other prestigious fellowships.

Tai is the special assistant to the African Union advisor on policy and strategic relation with the African Union Organs. As head of gender programs at the Assistance Mission for Africa, Tai raises awareness of the cross-cutting nature of gender equality consideration in the social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, and educational fields. She seeks the participation and inclusion of women in decision-making processes and the protection of women from all types of violence. Tai also conducts trainings and workshops that empower women to embrace free, just, dignified, and self-actualizing lives in South Sudan.

In her work, she has briefed the U.N. Security Council on South Sudan as a representative of South Sudan civil Society. Tai is a graduate of Bahr El Ghazal University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and social studies from the department of rural development.

Olivia A. Ogada (Kenya)

Olivia A. Ogada (Kenya)

Olivia Ogada is project management practitioner for Women in Democracy and Governance who is passionate about building peace and promoting human rights. She is also an established peacebuilding trainer and a participatory action researcher.

Ogada has six years of experience working with youth and women in promoting economic, social and cultural rights and a champion for equality and inclusion of women and youth in decision making processes. Her areas of expertise include democratic governance, gender-based violence, and peacebuilding. She has been instrumental in designing policies that promote women participation in governance and political leadership through the Community of Democracies, U.N. Women, and the International Institute for Democracy Electoral Assistance working group. She has worked hand in hand with the International Rescue Committee and has trained 50 women organization and groups on gender-based violence prevention strategies, case management, and referral systems to address gender-based violence in vulnerable communities.

As a peace builder, Ogada has worked with several organizations. In partnership with UNDP, she promoted awareness on respect of human rights during post-election violence conflicts through theater for development. She has organized peacebuilding public forums and legal aid programs around the country, especially in violence hot spot areas.

Sarra Messaoudi (Tunisia)

Sarra Messaoudi (Tunisia)

Sarra Messaoudi is a young Tunisian peacebuilder working in the fields of peacebuilding, Pan-Africanism, entrepreneurship, and youth empowerment. She is a mentor, a SUSI student leader, and the former general secretary of the iBuild Africa organization. Messaoudi is the founder of the Nenje7_iSucced initiative that aims to empower young people personally and professionally and share the “we thrive together” culture. At the age of 21, she led a project initiative called “Peace Not Pieces Fellowship” that aims to educate a generation of peace leaders to build a global community and nurture change through innovation, creativity, and active participation.

Messaoudi has also been chosen as a young peacebuilder in the MENA region by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Saumya Aggarwal (India)

Saumya Aggarwal (India)

Saumya Aggarwal is the co-founder and CEO of Youth for Peace International working on a vision to empower youth on conflict transformation, providing rehabilitation support to Rohingya refugees, and advocating for meaningful youth engagement at the global level. She has worked with the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, the United Nations for Major Group for Children and Youth, and the Asia Youth Peace Network to strengthen capacities of youth to end violence in their communities and to create positive peace. 

Abdulrasaq Olatunde Ogunyale (Nigeria)

Abdulrasaq Olatunde Ogunyale (Nigeria)

Abdulrasaq Olatunde Ogunyale is a lawyer, chartered mediator, and founder and executive director of Peacepace Initiative, a youth-led, nongovernmental organization that promotes peace and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria. His work on peace cuts across Nigeria and has been solidified from Southwest to the far Northeast with the immeasurable support of his team of young active citizens and leaders, and with relevant partnerships with traditional leaders.

Olatunde Ogunyale is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Law Association, the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators. He has also been recognised by the U.S. Department of State as an emerging young African leader with his selection as finalist for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship.

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