International Women’s Day 2024

International Youth Day 2023

International Women’s Day 2023

From policy to practice – Partnering with youth to build sustainable peace

"Young people around the world are advancing peace and justice and seeking to transform societies grappling with the legacies of both short- term and multi-generational conflict in exciting and powerful ways.”

Anjli Parrin, Advancing Peace Through a Youth-Centered Approach to Transitional Justice

Seven years ago, Resolution 2250 of the UN Security Council on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) recognized the positive contribution of young people to the maintenance and promotion of peace and security; and urged Member States to increase the representation and meaningful participation of youth in conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. In implementation, however, the YPS agenda has faced a number of challenges in terms of access, resources and representation. Youth participation and their capacity to influence decision-making are often limited by structural barriers and insufficient investment in facilitating their inclusion and empowerment. As a result, youth participation has sometimes been neglected or manipulated. One of the objectives of this year’s International Youth Day, on August 12th, is to raise awareness on age-related barriers in various spheres where the life of young people are impacted, such as employment, political participation, health and justice.

Interpeace has worked and partnered with youth for over 28 years in Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia; in countries where young people are affected by the cycles of protracted conflict and face physical violence, forced recruitment into armed groups, intergenerational transmission of trauma, forced displacement and have lost access to schooling, jobs and livelihood opportunities. From its inception, Interpeace has strived to ensure that the work is driven, owned and lead by young people at the country level, because we believe that investing in their voices, agency and leadership will have a profound impact in building sustainable peace. A key goal of our programmes is therefore to strengthen the resilience capacities of youth and prioritize their participation in building social and political resilience, particularly in areas where their involvement is critical: climate change, transitional justice and mental health, to name a few.

Currently Interpeace’s youth, peace and security work spans most of its country programmes, including Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Somalia, as well as our regional programme in Africa’s Great Lakes; and through our recently launched “Outside the Box” digital platform we are providing a space for young men and women to amplify their voices and leadership at a global level.

Gasorwe Commune,Muyinga Province in Burundi. Photo credit: CENAP

Youth Peace and Security in practice

"I realised that I can be the problem if I don't engage, if I don't take the first step. But I also understood that I can be the solution by bringing young people together." Idriss Ouattara, member of Association Génération Consciente de Côte d'Ivoire in Bocabo (GCCI)

In Côte d’Ivoire, Interpeace and local partner Indigo Côte d’Ivoire, aimed to return to the core principle of the YPS agenda by making youth the architects of peacebuilding in their communities; by supporting and working with existing youth-led initiatives and ensuring youth were responsible for the design and the implementation of key components of the project.

Youth in Côte d’Ivoire are commonly seen as key actors of political violence, being the victims of political instrumentalization and violent mobilization, particularly in electoral contexts. With the support and guidance of Interpeace and Indigo, youth groups carried out a Participatory Action Research (PAR) on the role of youth in political violence. From the results gathered, they proceeded to design new political violence prevention actions, putting YPS tools into practice in their context. Furthermore, the youth groups developed and implemented advocacy and communication campaigns based on these results.

This exchange reinforced the capacities of the youth groups to make their initiative on violence prevention and social cohesion more strategic, efficient, impactful, inclusive and sustainable. The publication: Putting the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda into practice: Youth as peace agents in Côte d’Ivoire captures key lessons and good practices from the initiative. It helps tackle the challenge of implementing the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, both nationally and locally, as well as provides a practical guide to governments, agencies, international organizations, NGOs and the private sector who wish to strengthen the participation of young people and their contribution to peace and security efforts.

Political and economic empowerment of youth collectives

“Undertaking a development project together has made us realise that our political diversity is more of an asset than an obstacle” Youth from Gasorwe Commune, Muyinga Province, Burundi

In Burundi, where youth make up the majority of the population (65%), Interpeace and local partner the Centre d’Alerte et Prevention des Conflits (CENAP), work with youth affiliated with different political parties to prevent violence and promote peaceful electoral processes. By engaging on trainings, debates and establishing collectives, the programme has witnessed youth crossing party lines to combat stereotyping and rumours, as well as has helped stop potential conflicts before they even start.

Moreover, young people have created joint projects and networks of their own initiative, like the creation of a Youth United Cooperative for Integral Development (CJUDI) which brings together young people from different political parties. The youth collectives work together on community and entrepreneurial initiatives, fostering social cohesion and building trust.

Young people discuss the political and socio-economic challenges of their community to submit to their elected representatives -Rugazi Commune, Bubanza Province, Burundi. Photo credit: CENAP

Strengthening peacebuilding infrastructure to improve resilience for peace

In Yemen, Interpeace has partnered with Youth Without Borders for Development (YWBOD), a Yemeni peacebuilding organization working on empowering youth to play significant and effective roles to bring about positive change. The project focuses on fostering the potential of young people to influence conflict resolution in positive and practical ways, and connecting this knowledge to decision-makers. It aims to inform and train a range of community-level actors to participate in local peacebuilding processes, as a way to strengthen resilience to peace, focusing on what works rather than on issues that create divisions.

Through participatory approaches, Interpeace and YWBOD are conducting capacity-building courses with Civil Society Organizations and Yemeni youth initiatives, such as Youth, Peace and Security Pact - Yemen. Youth initiatives are now conducting evidence-based research and implementing community resilience activities in Aden and Taiz, with young people having a central role in evidence collection.

Empowering youth in the Great Lakes region

Through a new regional initiative, Interpeace and local partners are providing young people in Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda with the skills and knowledge they need for a more effective leadership role in regional peace processes. The Great Lakes Youth Innovation Lab for Peace (YouthLab) is a 30-month initiative, launched in January 2021, implemented in partnership with Never Again Rwanda (NAR), the Pole Institute, the Centre d’Alerte et Prevention des Conflits (CENAP) and the Refugee Law Project.

According to one of the young people participating in the workshop: “Before this activity, we did not know each other. Now, we have just created a Whatsapp group to facilitate contacts between us.”

The YouthLab will provide a platform to provide young people in the Great Lakes with the necessary tools and capacities to engage in dialogue with policy makers, and to articulate their vision for peace in the region. The project also offers opportunities for horizontal learning and network building, as it is bringing together young people from across the region. Young people will not only learn but actively participate and lead initiatives that can contribute to governance, peacebuilding, and development initiatives at the local, national and regional levels.

YouthLab Initiative. Photo credit: Never Again Rwanda

Outside the Box

"What if we found a way to consistently and regularly include more youth priorities, such as environmental protection and technology, in policy? Could we better anticipate future ecological disasters? Could we become even more resilient for peace?"

Anupah Makoond, Beneath the Wakashio Oil Spill: Exploring the linkages between youth marginalisation, environmental disaster, and resilience for peace in a small island state.

At the global level, Interpeace is proud to have facilitated the completion in 2021 of nine youth-authored or YPS-focused policy briefs. Each addresses issues of policy or practice that are important to young women and men, but which have not received sufficient attention in the YPS agenda or its implementation. The briefs address: youth, climate and conflict; alternative non-violent masculinities; the role of youth in transitional justice; assessments of YPS action plans and national YPS coalitions; expressions of youth resilience for peace; mental health and psychosocial services in the YPS arena; youth-centered DDR processes; and the dangers of securitisation of YPS agenda. A dedicated webpage and platform have been launched on the Interpeace website: Outside the Box: Amplifying Youth voices and Views on YPS Policy and Practice.

The Interpeace Outside the Box Platform will soon feature new youth authored and YPS focused policy briefs and other forms of media, set to be published in 2022 and 2023.

Celebrating our own women peacebuilders on International Women’s day

A world with a future that is equal for all, is a world free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence. It is a future that is sustainable and peaceful with equal rights and opportunities for all. However, this kind of world is still a distant dream for many women across the globe. Despite this reality, women from all over the world in different contexts and communities, stand up against these barriers by becoming leaders and by persevering in their careers.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a future of equality and a future of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. At Interpeace, we reflect on the journey of our own in shaping a future of equality and a peaceful society - real-life champions and role models in peacebuilding.
Roya Elmuntaser is operations officer of Interpeace’s Libya programme based in Tripoli. She is overseeing finance, human resources, logistics and legal aspects related to our work in Libya. Having grown up in a semi-traditional home in Tripoli’s suburbs, and academically ranked as one of the top students, she pursued a degree in economics and political science and then specialized in accounting at Tripoli University. She always dreamed of having a job, which would enable her to contribute to positive change in her own community. She is proud to be a part of Interpeace and contributing to a cause which is near and dear to her heart.

Roya Elmuntaser, Operations Officer, Libya Programme, Interpeace.

Her message to young women is to, “focus on the positives and don't overwhelm yourself with the negatives. It’s not always easy and simple to occupy a space but I assure you that you are much stronger and resilient than you think, so be kind to yourself”.
Renée Larivière is the Senior Director of Programmes at Interpeace, providing leadership to the organization’s peacebuilding work worldwide. Her experience in more than 30 countries includes a focus on people’s engagement with violence, conflict management and promoting conflict transformative approaches. She provides leadership and transforms the way peace is fostered, emphasizing that it is important to bring this lens for women and girls that are facing or emerging from conflict.
To her, peacebuilding  involves three fundamentals: The absence of structural violence, peace and security for all, and peace premised on the integration of gender perspectives. Finally, she also focuses on equal participation in peacebuilding processes.

Deputy Director-General, Interpeace

Renée Larivière, Senior Director for Programme Management, Interpeace.

“Women, including myself, find the courage to speak up in our everyday lives both professionally and personally. Yet, continued systemic and social barriers brand us as troublemakers, no matter the context where you work or live”. However, she notes that in speaking up we not only demonstrate courage, we also influence others to follow suit.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up. Stand up, be vocal. Find your voice!” says Renée.
“Peace cannot be built from outside; it has to be built from inside” reflects Abiosseh Davis, Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager of Interpeace.
Abiosseh, born in Gambia, and raised in the US, was surrounded by many strong women in her childhood. She desired to make an impact in the world and also see the world around her after her studies. Her first exposure to development work, where she witnessed women being excluded, got her thinking, “this is not how development should be done”.
Her philosophy resonated with the mandate of Interpeace and the ethos of local ownership and facilitation, which does not take over the process. She has seen inclusion as a working reality as opposed to a conceptual ideology, and she is proud to be a part of an organization, which thrives to build more inclusive societies.

Abiosseh Davis, Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager, Interpeace.

“I have always been a minority everywhere I have gone.  I am a minority in the place I was born, I was a minority in the places where I grew up and studied and I am a minority in the place I work currently. But this job gives me the opportunity to give voice to women like me in the process of building peace,” says Abiosseh.
Her message to young girls and women is very clear, “don’t let yourselves be placed in a box, constantly look for ways of creating the type of life you want to live. Create the kind of expectations you wish for yourselves and maintain a sense of openness and wonder. You never know what it would lead to”.
As the world celebrates “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” we at Interpeace muse over the acute need for a world where young girls and women can turn their dreams into reality, not a world that is imposed and restricted. Girls and women can change the world, and be who they have dreamed of becoming. The world needs more women at every table where decisions are being made. The world needs women in leadership to stand up and take action, and the girls in their communities and schools to take on leadership. The world needs you.

UN Security Council gives a welcome boost to Youth, Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council has adopted its third resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS): UNSCR 2535. It signals the Security Council’s determination to drive forward practical action on YPS, and to do so in an integrated and coordinated way across the United Nations system as a whole.

There are still troubling indications that young people are seen as a ‘problem’ at risk of being radicalised and caught up in security challenges worldwide. The challenge now is to ensure that the Security Council’s political will is converted with resources and actions into effective implementation and delivery.

Interpeace was active in the lead-up to UNSC 2535 and is developing initiatives to support its implementation. Interpeace will also be publishing policy and practice briefings on YPS that are co-authored with young peacebuilders.

Photo credit: CENAP

Co-sponsored by the Dominican Republic and France, the new UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) is the third and also the most action-oriented YPS resolution adopted by the UN Security Council so far. The Resolution provides guidance for the implementation of the YPS agenda both at the country and headquarters level in the UN system. The Resolution raises the bar in five key ways, which have been analysed in this briefing paper. In sum:

First, UNSCR 2535 cements the priority of the YPS in the UN by requiring joined-up action across the operational siloes across the UN, requiring the UN Secretary-General to submit biennial reports on the implementation YPS agenda, and requiring YPS thus to appear regularly on the Security Council’s agenda. This ensures that action will occur and that there will be accountability and transparency across the UN system.

Secondly, UNSCR 2535 reasserts and tightens the relationship between the global YPS agenda and the ‘Sustaining Peace’ agenda, and also consolidates connections with the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda including a repeated commitment to the distinct experiences and roles of young women.

Thirdly, UNSCR 2535 recognises the demographic of youth through a peacebuilding lens and offers a powerful – and essential – vehicle to integrate peacebuilding and prevention efforts across all phases of peace and conflict cycles, not just in post-conflict contexts.

Fourth, UNSCR 2535 introduces new political commitments through its emphasis on meaningful participation of youth. This also goes beyond formally mediated peace processes, by acknowledging the value of youth participation in post-conflict humanitarian context including reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery effort as well as in reconciliation processes. This builds positively on the two previous Security Resolutions on YPS (UNSCR 2250 of 2015 and UNSCR 2419 of 2018).

Fifthly, and perhaps of greatest significance, UNSCR 2535 recognises for the first time, “the structural barriers that limit the participation and capacity of young people”, acknowledging that this particularly impacts young women. It makes a reference to “protecting civic and political space” where young people can legitimately and freely express themselves, which is arguably precedent-setting in bridging the peace and security, and human rights pillars of the UN.

Finally, though, UNSCR 2535 also restores the problematic reference to the threat of youth radicalisation that had been excised from the earlier UNSCR 2419, as well as from the recent Presidential Statement which was adopted following the open debate organised by South Africa on “Youth Silencing the Guns by 2020”. In this respect, Resolution 2535 runs the risk of reinforcing the policy panic on youth and violent extremism and the ‘securitisation’ of the YPS agenda.

Photo Credit: Interpeace.

The concern about young people and extremist forms of violence can only be addressed satisfactorily when meaningful efforts are made to counter the “violence of exclusion” of young people.This sentiment was expressed by young people themselves in the “Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security” report. Specifically through its reference to the United Nations Youth 2030 Strategy of the Secretary-General, the Resolution calls on governments to invest in the resilience, resourcefulness and inclusion of young people to build peace, rather than in risk-based approaches which project young people as a potential threat, alienate them, close down their arenas of political participation, and inhibit their engagement in peacebuilding.

Next Steps

As a practical follow-up to this Resolution, Interpeace plans to develop initiatives to support the implementation of UNSCR 2535, including in the areas of education for resilience; deepening young people’s participation in peace processes; developing youth-oriented ‘peace responsive’ peacebuilding programmes in the field; and, engaging in YPS through the intersection between peacebuilding and human rights.

In anticipation of the 5th Anniversary of UNSCR 2250 (the first ever Resolution on YPS), Interpeace will also produce a series of new policy and practice briefs co-authored by and amplifying the voices of young peacebuilders themselves. These policy and practice briefs will be published on this website in the coming months.

Click here to read the full analysis.