In the context of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, this report examines collaborations between youth and religious leaders in conflict-affected states. Using case studies, surveys, and interviews, it highlights the gaps, challenges, and opportunities for how religious actors and youth can and do partner effectively in the face of violent conflict.

Summary

  • More than 80 percent of the world identifies as religious, and most of the world’s most violent conflicts occur in countries with the most youthful populations.
  • In December 2015, UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security was adopted, formalizing an international framework to address the critical role of youth in building and sustaining peace and preventing violent conflict.
  • Youth are often the most vulnerable and affected by violent conflict globally, and yet tend to be excluded from peacebuilding efforts.
  • Religious actors include traditional religious leaders and lay religious people, women and youth among them, who help shape a community’s attitudes and behaviors, and those living in conflict areas, similar to youth, are often on the front lines, many working to prevent and mitigate violent conflict. Local religious actors are often excluded from formal peace efforts.
  • Both youth and religious actors, despite having what are often shared objectives but a mutual sense of differing priorities and values, are eager for more meaningful engagement with the other.
  • Trust needs to be built between youth leaders and traditional and nontraditional religious leaders.
  • By identifying allies within the religious and youth communities, peacebuilding practitioners gain access to otherwise inaccessible audiences, reaching the most vulnerable populations.
  • In leveraging the legitimacy of youth and religious leaders to engage vulnerable communities, peacebuilding practitioners and the international community can more effectively support efforts to prevent violent conflict.
  • Including religious actors, youth leaders, and religious youth in peace dialogues on local, national, and international levels is thus critical to creating sustainable peace.

About the Report

This report explores how youth and traditional religious leaders are partnering for peace, how they might partner more effectively in the future, and the unique role to be played by those who hold both identities. Derived from a desk literature review, online surveys, interviews, and case studies, the report is sponsored by the Center for Applied Conflict Transformation at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). 

Youth, Peace and Security Logo

This report is a contribution to the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.

About the Authors

Aubrey Cox is a senior program specialist for USIP, managing the Generation Change Fellows Program, a program dedicated to strengthening the capacity of civically engaged youth as they emerge as leaders in their communities. Melissa Nozell is a senior USIP program specialist who focuses on religion and inclusive societies. Imrana Alhaji Buba, a Generation Change Fellow, is a Nigerian youth leader focused on efforts to counter violent extremism in northern Nigeria.

Related Publications

The Missing Piece: Fathers’ Role in Stemming Youth Radicalization

The Missing Piece: Fathers’ Role in Stemming Youth Radicalization

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

By: Jeremy Moore

In countries across East Africa, youth radicalization by violent extremist groups is an ongoing threat. But the strategies and methods used to address it have been relatively narrow and the role of parents—especially fathers—is not well understood. In order to build better approaches to preventing youth extremism, we need to examine what personal and cultural factors are holding East African fathers back from engaging in prevention efforts, as well as how we can empower them to overcome these hurdles and take on a more pivotal role.

Type: Blog

Violent Extremism; Youth

Building Peace in Afghanistan from the Bottom-up

Building Peace in Afghanistan from the Bottom-up

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

By: Ahmad Jawed Samsor; Muhammad Idrees

A peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban is reportedly imminent. That deal would pave the way for intra-Afghan talks aimed at setting the course for the country’s political future. After the 18-year U.S. war and decades of conflict prior, Afghans overwhelmingly want an end to the violence that plagues their country every day. While this official diplomacy is an important first step, there is also much to be done at the grassroots level to build peace in Afghanistan.

Type: Blog

Education & Training; Youth

Tunisia, Stable Under Essebsi, Now Must Recruit Youth

Tunisia, Stable Under Essebsi, Now Must Recruit Youth

Monday, July 29, 2019

By: James Rupert

Tunisia, the single democracy to emerge from the Middle East’s 2011 political revolts, suddenly must choose a new leader following the death of 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi. Essebsi was the country’s first freely elected president and helped lead its transition away from decades of authoritarian rule. His death accelerates a test for this young democracy—its first political succession under its 2014 constitution.

Type: Blog

Youth

Venezuelan Youth Lead Nonviolent Campaigns for Change

Venezuelan Youth Lead Nonviolent Campaigns for Change

Thursday, July 18, 2019

By: Aubrey Cox; Nilaya Knafo

As the Americas’ biggest political and refugee crisis has mushroomed, Venezuela’s massive youth population faces an agonizing choice: to endure the conflict and the privations of a collapsed economy, or to seek economic survival and a better life abroad. With a recent surge of people fleeing the country, more than 4 million Venezuelans now are refugees, the United Nations reported last month. Still, a strong core of youth—nonviolent protest leaders, humanitarian workers and grassroots organizers—is working on peaceful ways to restore stability and democracy.

Type: Blog

Youth

View All Publications