Youth, Peace and Security

  • Young people suffer disproportionately the effects of conflict – as victims directly and indirectly. In conflict situations, young people often must work extremely hard to survive; to support and protect themselves and their families, and to resist violence. Young people are also the victims of much post-accord violence, being disproportionately affected by displacement, exclusion and structural violence. Beyond the shorter-term negative impacts for recovery, these experiences can shape attitudes and behaviors over the medium term and may extract a high price in terms of prospects for long-term stability.
  • Most young people do not engage in violence, even in conflict settings. The minority of young people who do participate in violence form the majority of violent actors across the world. Much more should be done to reduce engagement of young men and women in violent action and reduce their recruitment to and participation in armed groups. Young people who have engaged in violence (e.g. as child soldiers) have specific and diverse needs for tailored support particularly in the post-conflict period. They also have ambitions and capabilities for constructive engagement that should be recognized and addressed.
  • The specific needs of young women and young men at times of crisis are often underserved, if not outright neglected. These range from a need for safe passage away from conflict sites to protection from gender-based violence to access to essential services including those that address their sexual and reproductive health.
  • Young people often are primary but unseen actors in conflict recovery processes including in grassroots community rebuilding and development, and in peacebuilding work. Their support for their families and communities often remains unacknowledged by those in formal positions of power or authority.
  • Young people have a right to participate in peacebuilding and community decision-making pertaining to prevention and recovery, as is enshrined in international and national commitments. Such participation should build young people’s knowledge, skills and self-esteem and further enhance their positive contribution to building peaceful societies. Youth support for, and participation in post-conflict governance arrangements is vital for success, not only to minimize their impact as “spoilers” of post-accord efforts through political violence or violent crime, but also to better harness their energy for and contribution to reconstruction efforts.

Source: UNFPA, Youth, Peace and Security: The Time to Act is Now, Paper (August 2015)