One challenge of this sector is engaging youth - especially those who feel that "the system" is indifferent to their needs and wishes.  Authentic partnerships must involve active participation from those in power.  This Devex post provides ideas for engaging youth to work in peacebuilding. From youth taking active and empowered roles as peacebuilders, to youth participation in post-conflict reconciliation processes, these resources provide lessons from a variety of cases.

Young People's Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note

This document is the product of a collaborative effort led by the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding, which includes 40 partner organizations primarily from civil society and the United Nations. This Practice Note summarizes the situation of youth in conflict-affected environments, argues for the importance of investing in youth and peacebuilding, addresses existing assumptions and theories of change regarding youth and peacebuilding, provides overviews of key issues, highlights a variety of promising practices in different sectors and thematic areas that have undergone some level of evaluation or review, and offers a set of overarching recommendations for donors, policy-makers and planners.

Evaluation of Child and Youth Participation in Peacebuilding

The report is organized in 3 parts. Part 1 provides a brief introduction to the present state of child and youth peacebuilding (CYP) globally and, specifically, in Colombia, the DRC, and Nepal. It then introduces the evaluation’s methodology, its application in each country, and what was learned about the evaluation process. Part 2 shares key findings from the evaluation. It introduces the types of CYP initiatives evaluated, their impact, factors influencing impact, CYP quality, and overarching findings. Part 3 offers
CYP recommendations to different stakeholders, proposes future research, and draws general conclusions.
 
Part Two provides an overview of different types of CYP initiatives evaluated. It then presents findings concerning CYP impact in 4 key areas: 1) Aware and active citizens for peace, 2) Increased peaceful cohabitation and reduced discrimination, 3) Reduced violence, and 4) Support to vulnerable groups. It then describes 11 key factors hindering or enabling CYP impact. Many of these factors can positively or negatively influence impact depending on how they are addressed or neglected. Next authors explore the quality of child and youth participation in peacebuilding and results from assessing the following 8 principles: 1) Participation is transparent and informative; 2) Participation is relevant and respectful to children and youth; 3) Participation encourages diversity and inclusion; 4) Participation is sensitive to gender dynamics; 5) Participation is safe and sensitive to risks; 6) Investments are made in intergenerational partnerships in young people’s communities; 7) Participation is accountable; and 8) Young people are involved in all stages of peacebuilding and post-conflict programming. This evaluation’s findings are primarily based on participants’ opinions and, therefore, findings are usually suggestive rather than conclusive.
 
The evaluation results revealed that child and youth peacebuilders have contributed to impact in four key areas: 1) young peacebuilders often became more aware and active citizens for peace; 2) young peacebuilders increased
peaceful cohabitation and reduced discrimination; 3) young peacebuilders reduced violence; and 4) young peacebuilders increased support to vulnerable groups.
 
The report presents three overarching recommendations concerning child and youth participation in peacebuilding, more specific recommendations for different stakeholders, and conclusions:
Engage children as peacebuilders from a young age to ensure continuity and increased impact.
Encourage multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder efforts supporting CYP to multiply and amplify peacebuilding impact.
Engage with children and youth as partners in formal and informal governance and peace structures in a wide range of contexts, not only in contexts affected by armed conflict.

Youth in War-to-Peace Transitions: Approaches of International Organizations

A large and growing part of combatants in protracted armed conflicts are youth. Since there is no legal framework for this group and demobilization and reintegration programs (DRPs) have largely neglected such youth in practice. In contrast to armed groups, that regularly offer youth an income, an occupation, status, identity and the 'excitement' of violence, most DRPs fail to appeal to older children and young adults. But the failure to (re)integrate youth into civil structures cannot only put the peace-building process at jeopardy but also deprives these war-affected societies of a potential driving force for peace and development.
 
This study deals with youth in war-to-peace transitions and the response of international organizations specifically around demobilization and reintegration programs (DRPs). The study explores four guiding questions: What approaches have international organizations developed regarding youth? On which assumptions about youth and their role in violent conflicts are these approaches based? How do the different approaches affect program development? Are these approaches compatible? To explain the various responses of international organizations towards youth in conflict contexts, specifically regarding demobilization and reintegration, this study developed three ideal typical approaches: (1) a rights-based approach, (2) an economic approach, and (3) a socio-political approach. After outlining the basic ideas underpinning these ideal typical approaches on a theoretical level, the study examines two exemplary demobilization and reintegration programs for each approach to determine their practical value for post-conflict peacebuilding.

The Dynamic Role of Youth in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Lessons from Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kosovo

This undergraduate thesis uses three post-conflict countries to examine the effects of a large youth population during the post-conflict reconstruction period. The role of youth in post-conflict reconstruction has been largely understudied and there are significant gaps in the understanding of how the post-conflict reconstruction process affects young people, and the role youth play in determining the success of the reconstruction program. The youth in conflict research focuses predominantly on young men, suggesting that a large proportion of male youth will increase the likelihood of instability but does not consider the youth population’s role in building peace. Through a thorough investigation of the impact of different actors’ policies and programs, this study attempts to draw comparisons across cases that experienced varying degrees of success with reconstruction in order to generate hypotheses that may guide future research regarding the role of youth in post-conflict reconstruction and the ability of reconstruction actors to facilitate the youth population’s war-to-peace transition.

"If They Don't Start Listening to Us, the Future is Going to look the Same as the Past": Young People and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina

This article, based on empirical research from Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, explores how young people conceptualize reconciliation and examines the meaning this concept holds for them. Qualitative data are collected through one-to-one interviews with young people aged 16 to 18 living in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Results indicate that young people’s conceptualizations of reconciliation are largely relationship based. In terms of their role in the reconciliation process, young people see themselves as both potential peacemakers and potential troublemakers. They feel that politicians and the older generations have a significant impact on whether the role of young people in the future would be constructive or destructive. The research finds that a lack of political and economic change was one of the major factors that negatively influenced the potential for reconciliation, as did the lack of intergenerational dialogue. The research also indicates that it is vital to include young people in the debate about reconciliation.

Youth Participation in Parliaments and Peace and Security

A contribution from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015).  Youth are vastly underrepresented among the world’s parliamentarians, only 1.9 per cent of whom are under the age of 30.  This paper shows that youth participation in parliament has so far not been in a position to strongly impact on peace and security, a finding based on close examination of four post-conflict or transition contexts (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia) as well as extensive desk research on other contexts around the globe.  This paper identifies three areas where improved youth participation in parliament has resulted in positive outcomes that may advance peace and stability in the long run. These include:
 the establishment of new linkages between youth and parliament;
 the use of young parliamentarians as mediators; and
 the promotion of dialogue in divided societies through young parliamentarians.                                 
Recommendations include:           
 increasing the number and capacities of young parliamentarians;
 strengthening links between young parliamentarians and youth organizations;
 building young people’s knowledge and confidence in political processes and institutions; and
 creating opportunities for youth by facilitating access to education, employment, health, sports and
culture. 

Six Ways to Successfully Engage Youth in Peace Building

This article presents the views of four youth activists and experts on best practices that development leaders — particularly program designers and managers — can apply to leverage youth engagement and give young people opportunities to become agents of peace.

Four Lessons on Youth and Peacebuilding in Lebanon

In this article a former chief of party (team leader) of the Lebanon Civic Support Initiative funded by the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives offers four lessons on how civil society partners engaged students, school dropouts, political leaders, social activists and others to more effectively engage and empower youth as positive change agents. 

The Unexplored Power and Potential of Youth as Peace-builders

This paper explores the role of youth as peace-builders and uses four examples to show youth’s unique power for and participation in peacebuilding. The paper is divided into four sections:

Sections 1 and 2: Describes the most generalized perspectives on the role of youth in conflicts, based on a short review of existing literature.
Section 3: Challenges the generalized perspectives and contrasting these perspectives with positive examples of youth engagement that illustrate the power and potential of youth as peace-builders, that is, as positive agents of non-violent change through four recent historical examples.
Section 4: Suggests points for further research and exploration