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Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on YPS policy and practice


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.


If the YPS agenda is about youth, its implementation must also be about youth. We cannot afford to exclude youth from the process when we try to address youth exclusion itself.

Mridul Upadhyay, Assessing Youth Participation in the Implementation of the YPS Agenda


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

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About the Policy Briefs

Interpeace is passionately committed to the inclusive and meaningful participation of the youth in all the policy and practice arenas that impact their lives.

This reflects the organization’s commitment to local ownership and leadership in all its peacebuilding work, and therefore to the voice, agency, and leadership of young women and men in moving the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda from policy to practice. This should not be limited to ‘youth consultations’ at policy forums/discussions, but should extend to youth involvement in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the YPS agenda (including at the country-level).

Young women and men have strongly expressed the view that they should not be “ghettoized”, or seen only in youth or sports organizations, but that their interests are varied and diversified. Young people are found in human rights organizations, in women’s organizations, in academic institutions, in trades unions, in civic organizations, in the police as well as in the communities being policed, and in many other contexts. This reflects the heterogeneity of youth and their complex and intersectional lived experiences.

In recognition of this, Interpeace is dedicated to creating this platform which amplifies the voices and leadership of young women and men, especially in many of the areas that might not get the mainstreamed attention of policy-makers at national or international level, but which are important to young people themselves.

This online portal is dedicated to creating such a space for youth-led, youth-authored and/or youth-informed policy interventions, reflections, and advocacy. Interpeace hopes that this portal not only responds to existing policy priorities, but enables the young contributors to frame and set the policy agenda themselves—so that they can define and fill the gaps in policy and practice which are not getting the necessary attention.

In 2021, Interpeace, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, commissioned an initial nine Policy Briefs as part of its series; “Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on YPS policy and practice.”

These Policy Briefs have all either been authored by young peacebuilders, scholars or practitioners, or have been based on participatory research or consultations with young women and men. They are all focused on policy and practice gaps in the evolution and implementation of the YPS agenda. These Briefs, published here, do not necessarily reflect the views of Interpeace, but we wanted to play a convening role in creating a platform for the initiative and uncensored voice of youth themselves.

Interpeace is delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate and convene leading youth policy thinkers and practitioners through this platform of learning and debate about the evolving YPS agenda.

Evaluating Youth Representation to the United Nations - Reflections and recommendations on the United Nations Youth Delegate Programme

This policy brief provides both reflections and recommendations on the United Nations Youth Delegate Programme, from the perspective of a former UN Youth Delegate for Ireland. While regarded as one of the strongest pathways for youth representation to the UN, the Youth Delegate programme is not without flaws. As with many other avenues, key issues include disparities in regional and cultural representation, a lack of funding and widespread tokenism, and limited institutional acknowledgement. UN Member States, along with UN agencies and bodies, must urgently begin to implement their own commitments in relation to young people, recognising them as compulsory partners and key stakeholders in our collective future, in line with intergenerational equity and solidarity.

Diandra Ní Bhuachalla

Assessing Youth Participation in Implementation of the YPS Agenda

This policy brief, drawing on available data and interviews with youth peacebuilders from six country cases, assesses youth participation in the relatively early national implementation phases of the Global YPS agenda. The brief addresses the role of young women and men in the design, implementation, and evaluation of national action plans and national YPS coalitions, and provides insight and analysis on participation, leadership, and ownership of young people in YPS implementation efforts. The brief notes that the efforts to include young people in the development of a YPS policy have not translated into meaningful and comprehensive youth involvement in the implementation of YPS policy at the national level and includes recommendations for correcting an imbalance which threatens to undermine the core objectives of the YPS agenda.

Mridul Upadhyay

The Counterstrike Generation

This policy brief presents an analysis of the dangers and challenges posed by the “securitization” of the YPS agenda, addressing both hard counter-terrorism approaches that target youth in the name of countering violent extremism (CVE), and the increasingly pervasive influence of ‘softer’ securitization through the guise of preventing violent extremism (PVE). It draws attention to the fact that instead of cultivating and investing in the role of young peacebuilders, young women and men are still subject to forms of ‘policy panic’ which result in them being endangered not only by terrorist organizations, but also by the counter-terrorist strategies of their own governments. This brief concludes with recommendations for how stakeholders supportive of the YPS agenda can confront the  securitization of young people, and strategize to protect the rights of young men and women at both the drafting and implementation stages of counterterrorism policies and programs.

Ali Altiok

Psychosocial Support and Societal Transformation

This paper explores the key issue of mental health and psycho-social services (MHPSS), from a youth-specific perspective. Drawing on the assertions and recommendations of the YPS Progress Study, and coupled with the increasing attention to MHPSS within the sustaining peace agenda, this policy brief pays special attention to the role of youth-specific psycho-social services as a vital dimension of transformative youth resilience, essential to both addressing the consequences and prevention violent conflict.

Brandon Hamber, Denis Martinez, Marlies Stappers, David Taylor, Thomas Unger

Voices from the Margins: Young men and post-conflict masculinities in Northern Ireland

This paper points to the gap (noted in the YPS Progress Study’s recommendations) on masculinity and masculine identities as part of the gendered approach to implementing the YPS agenda. This policy brief focuses attention on supporting the development of alternative and positive masculine identities. While the paper draws on lived experiences in Northern Ireland, it derives lessons and recommendations, captures stories, and offers a narrative with wider relevance for other contexts.

Brandon Hamber, Conor Murray

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

This brief, by a young author from Mauritius, sheds light on the under-explored nexus of YPS, climate justice and social cohesion, speaking to the topic from the experience of a small island country, and applying the lens of resilience. Her paper draws attention to the need for inclusive governance and a political system that can meaningfully accommodate the concerns of young people when it comes to effects of climate crises. She demonstrates the links between environmental risk, and the weakening of social cohesion, trust in the state, and a weakened resilience to conflict when these youth concerns are not prioritized.

Anupah Makoond

Youth as Guardians of the Future – Sustaining Climate, Peace and Security in an Urbanizing World

This brief, co-authored by a young analyst and a colleague from UN Habitat, addresses the nexus of the YPS, climate change, and rapid urbanization. The paper pays special attention to the gendered impacts of climate change on urbanization and on young women in urban centers in particular and draws attention to both the importance and the prevailing deficits of young people’s inclusion in urban planning and governance, including the implications for youth resilience in relation to climate related conflict and potential violence. The brief concludes by stressing the need to involve youth as “inheritors of the future” in answering these challenges and includes recommendations for Member States, multilateral institutions and other political bodies.

Sharmaarke Abdullahi, Mathieu Lohr

Resilience in the face of exclusion: stories from Kenyan and Swedish youth

This paper captures the voices of young women and men from two cities – Nairobi, Kenya and Stockholm, Sweden – in a facilitated dialogue on their experiences of living in urban neighborhoods that are often defined by those outside them as ‘vulnerable’, ‘unsafe’ and ‘at-risk’. The brief offers a rich exploration of the universality of the YPS agenda across very different contexts, through the voices of young people from these different settings. Sustaining the thematic focus on youth resilience, this paper offers rich comparative reflections on the sources of youth resilience for peace, based on dialogue between young women and men across these different settings.

Yosra Ali, Rasian Ferej, Asha Jaffer, Samson Kuboko, Maryan Mohamed, Dheka Mustakh, Felix Orwaka

Political transition, reintegration, and the challenges of reconciliation in Colombia from the perspective of youth

This brief, written by a young Colombian scholar and based on interviews with youth, is the first of two briefs addressing a specific aspect of youth inclusion and leadership in peace processes. The brief addresses this topic from the perspective of DDR (and particularly social reincorporation programs), noting that while youth were severely under-represented in the Colombian peace negotiations, they nonetheless played a crucial role in the peace plebiscite, and made up the majority of those in DDR processes. The brief pays particular attention to those who – although they were part of the political movement and organized in urban centers – were nonetheless not part of the formal military arm of the FARC, and who were consequently excluded from the DDR and reintegration processes.

Laura Henao

Advancing Peace Through a Youth-Centered Approach to Transitional Justice

This brief, written by a young Kenyan human rights lawyer who works in the transitional justice and international criminal law field, provides an overview and road-map of the ways that youth-centered and youth-inclusive transitional justice efforts can advance durable peace and transformative peace processes. Drawing on the recommendations and findings of the YPS Progress Study, this policy brief points to the vital gap in the inclusion and participation of young people in transitional justice initiatives – a key dimension of peace processes and sustaining peace efforts. It argues that the gap in young people’s participation and inclusion undermines the potential efficacy, legitimacy, and durability of peace processes, as well as of truth, accountability, reconciliation, and prevention efforts, and further marginalizes young people wishing to transform conflict-affected and post-conflict societies.

Anjli Parrin