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Youth, Peace and Security (YPS)

The youth make up a significant majority of the population across the globe – and an even larger proportion of the population in conflict-affected societies. Despite this fact, they are still largely marginalised and excluded from political, economic, and socio-cultural spaces that shape their lives.

In global consultations for the Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS): The Missing Peace, young women and men described this lived experience of marginalisation as the “violence of exclusion”— marginalisation in political, economic, educational, and gender-based terms. They also pointed to their lack of human rights protections, and the dilemmas of disengagement and reintegration for those who had slipped into violent underworlds.

In addition, although only a tiny sliver of the youth population actually become involved in violence, youth are predominantly treated by their governments – and often their communities – as a threat, a source of risk, or a ‘problem to be solved’.

The resulting stereotypes, stigmas and ‘policy panic’ that shape the way young men and women are viewed, represents them as potential terrorists, or spoilers of fragile peace processes. This results in counter-productive strategies that ‘securitise’ young men and women, increasing alienation and aggravating the devastating loss of trust that the youth have in their governments, the multilateral system, and in the political systems and economies that have failed to serve them.

This must change. And recognition of this stands as the foundation stone of the evolving global policy agenda on YPS,  framed by UN Security Council Resolutions 2250, 2419 and 2535, which recognise the imperative to invest in the positive contribution of young women and men in building peace.

What we do

This imperative for change resonates with Interpeace’s core commitment to invest in the transformative resilience of young women and men – in their voices, agency, and leadership in driving positive change in their societies and across the globe.

At its heart, youth-centered peacebuilding is also at the core of much of our work on inclusive peace processes, rethinking ‘stabilisation’, peace responsiveness, and to building transformative resilience for sustainable peace.

To harness the innovation and creativity of young women and men, it is important to invest in the transformative resilience and positive contribution of youth in building peace, and as fundamental to the prevention of violent conflict.

  • Since its inception, Interpeace has worked on youth and peacebuilding. But over a decade ago, when Interpeace developed our institutional strategy, Interpeace fully recognised the difference between “working with young people” and developing self-conscious, youth-centered approaches to building peace.
  • Today, Interpeace’s youth, peace, and security work spans most of its country programs, including in Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi, Kenya, Ukraine, Rwanda, Somalia and across the Great Lakes.
  • Interpeace aims to integrate its work on policy and programming by ensuring that the country-level work is policy astute and contributes to making the transition from policy to implementation. In turn, Interpeace seeks to translate the learning and creativity of local youth-centered peacebuilding into global policy development and innovation of the YPS Agenda.
  • Interpeace aims to harness the resourcefulness, resilience and change agency of young women and men, to amplify their voices, and to import their leadership into global policy platforms and inter-generational dialogues at local, national, and international levels.

Interpeace strives to ensure that the work is driven, owned and lead by the youth themselves at the country level. Interpeace also engages in international policy and practice through presences in New York, Brussels and Geneva, committed to and investing in strategic partnerships that support the YPS agenda.

Among others, Interpeace is an active member of the Global Coalition on YPS, works closely with youth led peacebuilding networks such as the United Network of Young Peacebuilder (UNOY), is a supportive partner to the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), and works in tandem with civil society organizations with trust-based youth programming in diverse contexts.

Outside the Box

In 2021, Interpeace, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, commissioned nine Policy Briefs for the 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 all focus 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 Interpeace plays 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.

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

Get in touch

A small yet agile team helps drive and coordinate this work. Graeme Simpson is Interpeace’s Principal Representative (NY) & Senior Peacebuilding Advisor, and the former Lead Author of The Missing Peace.

Contact: simpson@interpeace.org.