Role of Young People in Countering Violence and Extremism

According to the World Youth Report, There are currently 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 in the world, the largest number of youth ever to have existed and 18% of the world’s population. By 2025, it is predicted that there will be 72 million more youth across the globe. For some, this large generation of young people “as potential workers, voters, activists and innovators” is viewed as an opportunity. For others – as the majority of these young people live in contexts with high levels of poverty and unemployment – they are seen as a threat to peace and stability either due to their direct experiences of violence and death, their witnessing violence against loved ones, or the wider impact of war on their lives though displacement, malnutrition, disease and loss of education

There has been an increased focus on youth’s especially young men as the perpetrators of violence and a threat to security and stability. Commentators have warned that a “surging” youth population or “youth bulge” – combined with high unemployment and rapid urbanization – is leading to increased violence and insecurity, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Indeed, most recent analyses of violent conflict identify some form of “youth factor” in the generation or perpetuation of violence
Countering Violence and Extremism aims to address the root causes of violent extremism by providing resources to communities to build and sustain local prevention efforts and promote the use of counter-narratives to confront violent extremist messaging online

Our role as youths lies at the heart of international peace and security as such young people must work towards countering and ending violence extremism
As young people we can use tools such as:

  1. Education: At AFEADEN Our initiative as an organization is to tackle underlying challenges that prevent young people from going or staying in school, this is a specific initiative that can counter violent extremism since education is a tool in countering violence, with access to quality education, we teach young people in our communities skills to think critically, teach them the use of social media to preach peace and teach them competences for peaceful dialogue and tolerance
  2. Social Media: we must leverage on our use of social media, violent extremists have used the online world to spread misinformation and hateful messages in an effort to radicalize others. However, social media can be harnessed to challenge extremist propaganda and promote positive values such as inclusion, diversity and respect. Social media can also be used to campaign for change and peace and preach right behavior
  3. Support fellow youths and youth led initiatives: we must all work collectively as young people to achieve result. We must join force with local and community based initiative to drive peace. Here with us are leaders of various initiatives; we must connect with each other for forward action after the summit
  4. Start Peace Movements in your small groups, community, schools etc.
  5. Information and Idea Sharing: Young people come in touch with information daily, from calls to join extreme groups to call for riots and gang violence, we must help security agencies fight violence and also inform other young people on the need to share information
  6. Enhance our knowledge of peace-building and also share this knowledge
  7. Work towards inter-generational exchange: the Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing nor do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created. Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, we youths can demonstrate the benefits of peace actions

In Summary, a lot of young people have taken up these initiatives to promote peace in their communities unfortunately, the positive roles that young people can and do play in building peace and promoting recovery and development, or simply supporting their families and communities during and after war and violence, are insufficiently acknowledged. With a dearth of international funding for youth organizations and initiatives, young people have often initiated, led and funded their own programs

We therefore urge the government to:

  1. Utilize the tremendous potential of youth in creating and maintaining peaceful environments, they must be engage us and provide opportunities for us to be involved in decision-making at all levels, in mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict, and in peace negotiations
  2. offer evidence-based, promising practices in youth peace building in the field;
  3. program considerations for more holistic support to youth peace building interventions, and;
  4. enhance the effectiveness of policies and funding strategies of bilateral and multilateral donors and agencies supporting youth peace building interventions,
  5. Provide meaningful engagement, jobs and opportunities for young people

The place of young people in humanitarian action cannot be over emphasized. We have the time, energy, initiative and creativity required, however these energies and creativity has to be channeled right to achieve result. We must relies that we young people are drivers of change, we must therefore take the driver’s seat in countering violence and extremism

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