UNOY research work on providing input for the development of a UN Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism: “preventive strategies against violent extremism from a Young Peace-builder’s perspective”.
The network compressed all inputs into five action points on preventing violent extremism and views youth as leaders of the present and the future who are able to act to prevent violent extremism and promote peace: “This is just one example of young people taking action to build peace in communities across the globe”.
Although the UN member states expressed belief in youth at the High Level Event of the General Assembly marking the 20th Anniversary of the World Program of Action for Youth in May 2015, the current narrative on Countering and Preventing Violent Extremism sees youth as potential radicals and perpetrators or victims of violence.
At best, youth are viewed as future potential agents of change. According to Network; in order to change that, states should strive to and must:
1.Recognize what young people are already doing in preventing violent extremism and promoting peace and nonviolence; especially through peace education. Build upon the existing capacities, networks and resources of young people;
2.Enlarge existing spaces and social, cultural, political and economic structures that give young people opportunities to engage in and contribute to their societies; whether through civil society organizations or youth groups. Support and maximize opportunities for the engagement of young people through volunteer work in promoting reconciliation, developing national civilian peacebuilding capacities and social solidarity.
3.Facilitate an enabling environment for young peacebuilders to continue their work. Studies show that counter-terrorism measures have shrunk spaces for civil society in many fragile states. This can be counter-acted by ensuring young people full access to their rights. Enable them to collaborate locally, nationally and internationally; ensure that they have access to unbiased information, funding, and capacity development.
4.Conduct contextual research in collaboration with youth organizations to understand root causes and identify stakeholders in violent extremism, in order to design effective interventions at the local and international levels.
5.Allocate and increase funding for the above mentioned actions, and include young people in the decision making on the utilization of these funds.
The action points should be implemented within the following principles:
A holistic perspective and a comprehensive approach. The various root causes of violent extremism must be studied analytically and dealt with as a system in order to remedy and prevent their negative consequences more effectively, rather than taking reactionary steps to respond to individual incidents.
Meaningfully engage youth as partners. Youth are leaders of today, not just tomorrow. Young people are champions of change, not just victims or perpetrators of violence. “We as young people do not want to be ONLY consulted or put as a ‘separate box’, but be considered equal partners within a comprehensive approach”.
Contextualise interventions. Violent extremism comes in different levels and is being bred in different political and socio-cultural contexts. We must be creative in designing strategies that are effective to local, national, and regional contexts.
Be gender-sensitive. People of all genders must engage in all the processes of preventing violent-extremism.
Promote accountability. All stakeholders (including youth actors) of peacebuilding must be held accountable by each other for their actions and use of resources in order to ensure effectiveness of our activities.
Terram Pacis Editorial
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