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.

A Brief Analysis of New UN Security Council Resolution 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security

Read A Brief Analysis of New UN Security Council Resolution 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security.

By: Graeme Simpson & Ali Altiok.

Interpeace and United Nations Peacebuilding Office renew partnership to sustain peace

The world is witnessing a marked rise in violence within states, as more societies experience violent conflict globally. In response to this worrying trend, Interpeace and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) have renewed their partnership to reduce violence in fragile and conflict affected societies.

The new commitment reflects current shared priorities to build more just, inclusive, resilient, and peaceful societies. In line with a recently updated version of an existing Memorandum of Understanding, Interpeace and PBSO will jointly work towards achieving the Sustaining Peace Agenda in the coming years. The Agenda seeks to sustain peace at the different stages of conflict in all dimensions, by preventing the outbreak of violence, its escalation, continuation, and recurrence.

Many of the key premises of the Sustaining Peace Agenda are now widely accepted and enshrined in policies, such as the application of peacebuilding approaches along the peace-conflict continuum, the focus on conflict prevention, and the need for contributions to peace across the humanitarian, development, stabilization, peace, and human rights fields. However, the operationalization of these conceptual shifts in peacebuilding is lagging.

The PBSO and Interpeace share the objective of enabling and supporting the ‘whole-of-system’ approach to peace that the Agenda calls for by promoting the application of peacebuilding not only as a set of distinct activities, but also as an approach to social, economic and other interventions in conflict affected contexts. This dovetails with the goal of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, which also seeks to promote greater collaboration among international actors towards collective outcomes – all the while enabling local ownership and leadership.

Photo credit: Interpeace.

The UN Peacebuilding Support Office and Interpeace have had a long-standing fruitful partnership based on shared values and objectives. The renewal of this partnership is oriented towards new strategic priorities in line with current gaps and opportunities in peacebuilding.

In the past years, Interpeace has provided support to various processes informing projects by the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). Among others, this was rolled out through backstopping participatory and locally led conflict analysis in The Gambia, facilitating multi-stakeholder consultations for a framework of engagement in Guinea Bissau, and supporting UN agencies in designing peacebuilding projects in Mali and Guinea Bissau. Interpeace has also implemented PBF-funded programmes that support the empowerment of women in Guinea Bissau and Mali, as well as the empowerment of young people in Côte d’Ivoire.

“We are delighted to continue this close collaboration with the PBSO through direct support to both PBSO and PBF processes, as well as strongly aligning the objectives in our independent work,” said Martina Zapf, Senior Manager at Interpeace.

Based on a firm belief in the vital role that an effective UN Peacebuilding Architecture can play, Interpeace also contributed critical inputs to the review of that architecture in 2015 and is doing so again in the 2020 review process. In 2015, Interpeace’s proposal, which is now established, was for the “UN to do less and enable more”.

Interpeace has been supporting UN agencies in implementing the Sustaining Peace Agenda by accompanying the integration of peace responsive approaches into humanitarian and development assistance. The Interpeace Advisory Team (IPAT) has engaged in co-learning processes with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in this regard. In the context of supporting the design and prioritization of PBF projects in various contexts, other agencies have also been accompanied in effectively integrating contributions to peace in their social and economic interventions.

Apart from working to foster peacebuilding action across the UN system, the PBSO and Interpeace will also collaborate on strengthening the evidence base of how different types of interventions can contribute to peace.

Photo credit: Interpeace

Interpeace’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

The tragic death of George Floyd in the United States has affected all Interpeace staff worldwide in a profound way. It is an affront to human dignity and human rights, and thus to Interpeace’s values and principles.

The Black Lives Matter protests are a global clarion call for a long overdue reckoning with systemic racism against black communities and people of colour.

Interpeace unequivocally condemns racism and is committed to using its resources to address racism in all its manifestations. We affirm our full support to those seeking to change peacefully the patterns of racial injustice that have led to the perpetuation of physical, structural, and cultural violence around the world.

The corrosive legacy of colonialism, anti-black racism and xenophobia continues to have an influence and impact on peacebuilding work today and cannot be ignored. If the world is to achieve meaningful and sustainable peace, there must be recognition of the inter-generational traumas - past and present - caused by centuries of bias, privilege, inequality, and injustice and of how these factors determine life outcomes today.

Racism comes not only in open and direct forms, but in everyday experiences of unconscious bias and discriminatory behaviour. We must therefore be equally vigilant in addressing overt and covert or casual forms of racism and prejudice in our societies.

When the social contract is repeatedly violated, especially by security forces, then public protest and dissent are an understandable and almost inevitable response. Often, such demonstrations are the only way that society is able to shine light on its own patterns, behaviours and institutions of exclusion. In this way, social protest movements become an essential part of the process of restoring trust and building a better future.


Photo credit: Interpeace.

As an international organization for peacebuilding, Interpeace recognizes its responsibility to advance equality and eliminate all forms of discrimination within its structures as a pre-requisite to supporting and enabling local communities to transform their own conflict dynamics. This has led us to consult internally on the need to establish a process of self-examination and reflection to ensure that no form of discrimination, intolerance, or exclusion on racial or other grounds can take place within our own organization.

To advance this commitment, Interpeace is establishing a representative Diversity and Inclusion Working Group that will independently consult with all staff, and will support management to (1) foster a constructive and inclusive discussion in the organization about diversity and inclusion; (2) identify ways, where required, to eliminate any structural, systemic or casual forms of racial and other discrimination and exclusion within our organization and networks; (3) review and offer recommendations on ways to enhance our peacebuilding work positively and meaningfully in support of greater diversity and inclusion; and, (4) strategize how to scale up Interpeace’s practical support for peacebuilding, including in Europe and the U.S., that addresses exclusion, racism, and marginalization.

Interpeace will also join other peacebuilding organizations wherever possible to create greater collective effort and progress in advancing and upholding diversity and inclusion in the worldwide peacebuilding community.

Interpeace takes these steps to build a stronger and more diverse and inclusive organization that is better able to address structural and systemic patterns of exclusion wherever they may be present.


Scott M. Weber





Interpeace and UNICEF partner to contribute to peace through work with children

A partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Interpeace contributes to the sustaining peace agenda which calls for contribution to peace at all levels and across all sectors. UNICEF drives change for children every day, by saving their lives, defending their rights, and helping them to fulfil their potential. The organization has long recognized that the sustainability of its work around the world requires addressing the root causes of fragility, conflict, and violence rather than merely responding to their consequences. Based on the recognition of this interrelationship, UNICEF leverages its programming in social services delivery and community engagement focused on realization of child rights for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, as demonstrated through its previous “Peacebuilding, Education, and Advocacy Programme”, and ongoing programming in over 50 countries.

UNICEF’s contribution to peacebuilding is centered on the social and economic dimensions of peace. It supports contributions to sustaining peace at multiple levels including individual capacity to transform conflict, fostering relationships between and within groups ( horizontal social cohesion), and (re)building state-society relations (vertical social cohesion).

In line with the second facet of Interpeace’s mandate – to assist the international community (and particularly the United Nations) to play a more effective role in supporting peacebuilding efforts around the world – Interpeace has embarked on co-learning processes with a number of UN agencies. The Interpeace Advisory Team (IPAT) provides accompaniment on the operationalization of the sustaining peace agenda, including the integration of contributions to peace in humanitarian and development work. This work is guided by key peacebuilding principles including local leadership, fostering horizontal and vertical trust - between people as well as between people and governments - and carefully crafting processes that enable these.

“We are delighted to be supporting UNICEF in its endeavor of fostering peaceful and inclusive societies for the realization of children’s rights. This work constitutes a part of Interpeace’s efforts to partner with other organizations in fostering peace responsive humanitarian, development, and stabilization action,” said Martina Zapf, Senior Manager at Interpeace.

Photo credits: Interpeace.

UNICEF has partnered with Interpeace on an evaluative review of its peacebuilding, social cohesion, and violence prevention programming. The objective of this review, carried out by IPAT, is to identify effective approaches that could be scaled up as well as opportunities to further enhance UNICEF’s work in these areas, drawing on its unique added value. UNICEF and Interpeace have also worked together in several countries to improve the situation of children and peace - as seen in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau (read more here).

Further consolidating the partnership, UNICEF has concluded a long-term services agreement with Interpeace. Under this framework agreement Interpeace will collaborate with UNICEF in the areas of peacebuilding, social cohesion, and violence prevention. Interpeace’s Advisory Team will provide hands-on assistance to country and programme teams on conflict analysis, programme design and implementation; providing capacity development and supporting organizational change processes; developing action-oriented and field-tested guidance; as well as providing reviews and a sounding board. The two organizations will also continue to identify opportunities for jointly designing and implementing programmatic activities contributing to peace.

The overall aim of the collaboration between UNICEF and Interpeace is to identify and practically act on ways of further enhancing UNICEF’s contribution to peace, in line with its mandate. Recognizing and enabling the important role that social and economic interventions play in fostering peace, gives concrete expression to one of the core tenants of the sustaining peace agenda.

Photo credits: Interpeace

Interpeace Governing Board welcomes three new members

Interpeace is pleased to announce the appointments of three new members to its Governing Board: Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, as the new Representative of the Host Government, Switzerland; Mohamed Khaled Khiari, as the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General; and Nathalie Delapalme.

“I am delighted to welcome Ambassador Geissbühler, Mr. Khiari and Ms. Delapalme as new Board members,” said Monica McWilliams, Chair of the Interpeace Governing Board. “These individuals bring diversity, expertise and very rich experience in their different fields, from which Interpeace will benefit enormously”.

Nathalie Delapalme is the Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Before her appointment to the Foundation, Nathalie was a French senior civil servant, and served in various roles at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in other departments. A recipient of several awards, Nathalie is Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and sits on the Board of Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFPRI).

Nathalie Delapalme. Photo credits: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Ambassador Simon Geissbühler is a Swiss diplomat, historian, and political scientist, currently serving as Head of the Human Security Division at the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. He previously served as Switzerland’s Deputy Head of Mission to the United States in Washington D.C. from 2017 to 2020, and has held various other positions in the Swiss Foreign Service.

Simon Geissbühler. Photo Credit: Human Security Division of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs

Mohamed Khaled Khiari, a Tunisian diplomat with over 35 years in diplomacy and foreign affairs, is currently the Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations of the United Nations. Before his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Khiari was Director General of Americas, Asia and Oceania in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia.


Photo credits: UN

Together with existing members of the Board, the new members of the Governing Board will provide strategic direction, counsel and guidance to Interpeace.

Welcoming the appointments, the President of Interpeace, Scott Weber, said, “Our new Board members are deeply committed individuals who share Interpeace’s mission of reinforcing the capacities of societies to address conflict in non-violent and enduring ways. The new members bring a wealth of expertise and a rich diversity of experience that will add value, wisdom and impact to Interpeace’s crucial peacebuilding work worldwide.”

The Interpeace Governing Board is comprised of prominent individuals from the government, international, and business sectors. The Board is the top decision-making body of the organization and provides direction to Interpeace’s overall strategy.

Two permanent seats on the Governing Board are reserved for founding institutional members – one for the Host Government, Switzerland, and another for a designated representative of the United Nations Secretary-General. These permanent institutional memberships cement the commitment of Interpeace, the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations to continue to work together for sustained peace worldwide.