What’s our goal?We are devoted to helping more young people become more effective peacebuilders. Children and youth encounter many roadblocks hindering their peacebuilding potential. We work to remove these roadblocks and build bridges strengthening their peacebuilding capacity. Peacebuilding roadblocks and supports are encountered at many levels, from inside a family, to intergovernmental policy. For example, a parent may help transport their child to a weekly peace club and a government may implement a regional policy of providing peace education in public schools. We nurture environments where young people's peacebuilding potential is maximized. We do this by developing quality child and youth peacebuilding tools, projects, research, and partnerships. Together, supporting more child and youth peacebuilders and increasing their impact. Young Peacebuilders is an active member of the Global Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding and the UN Interagency Working Group on Youth Participation in Peacebuilding, and participates in other relevant child and youth peacebuilding related networks.
Q: Why support children and youth as peacebuilders?
Far too many of our world’s children grow up amidst great violence and poverty. Over 90% of children live in Majority World (developing) nations. Nearly 80% of the poorest nations have experienced a major civil war in their recent past and some have over half of their population younger than 18. Countries with a high percentage of young people have a much higher risk of terrorism, war, and other violence than older nations. Children in these contexts suffer incredibly from sexual exploitation, disease, and loss of education, families and futures, and children represent half of war casualties.
Young Peacebuilders believes that young people provide hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future. In places primed for violence, great changes in thinking and acting are needed. It’s wise to invest in those most likely to change their thoughts and actions—the children and youth. The youthfulness of high-risk contexts represents a great opportunity. However, to seize this opportunity we must invest in supporting young people as engaged citizens and devoted peacebuilders. Together, it can be done and is worth the cost.
Q: Who are the Young Peacebuilders Consultants?
Our team includes a diverse group of experts with experience ranging from catalyzing a peacebuilding movement as a child in a war affected nation, to practitioners and academics with PhDs in child and youth peacebuilding, and a Lost Boy of South Sudan who is now a PhD candidate and influential peacebuilder.
Q: What does Young Peacebuilders do?
The YP Consulting Team helps develop more effective child and youth peacebuilding focused partnerships, research, projects, and products. We serve others as consultants and we develop our own projects.
Partnerships: Cross-sector partnerships are critical to achieve the scope and depth of peacebuilding impact needed to bring durable peace in high-risk contexts. No one group is sufficiently equipped to mobilize a nation's young people as peacebuilders. However, if NGOs, FBOs, governments, religious leaders, and other influencers work together effectively, it can be done. Young Peacebuilders helps develop strong and sustainable cross-sector partnerships in cities, nations, and regions. Partnerships can start and grow quickly because they are largely independent but highly interconnected. They leverage existing infrastructure, like schools, mosques, churches, and clubs, to help children and youth work with adults and other young people to build peace and avoid the violent destructive patterns that many predict.
Research: It is critical to show that investing in young peacebuilders actually helps develop more durable peace. Again, achieving this research with scale and quality requires partnership. Research helps improve efforts and catalyze larger scale investments in young peacebuilders. We want to see a major shift in the dominant method of addressing contemporary conflicts toward investing in young people as peacebuilders. We believe one critical means for doing this is producing world-class longitudinal research verifying the effectiveness of child/youth peacebuilding in multiple high-risk contexts and then having that research promoted widely by a partnership of highly reputable academics, practitioners, and institutions. We value starting child and youth peacebuilding research institutes in established universities in higher-risk contexts and meaningfully engaging young people as researchers and analysts.
Projects and Products: More and improved projects, tools, and training materials are needed to better scale efforts supporting young peacebuilders in ways that prevent violence and nurture durable peace. Young Peacebuilders has the skills and experience to implement and improve child and youth peacebuilding projects as well as develop the training materials to expand or develop new projects.
Q: What are examples of child or youth peacebuilding?
For more in depth examples you can read 11 case studies in appendix 1 of this report.
Youth Patrols–Liberia: Young people work together in a formal structure, with help from adults, to patrol the campus of the school in pairs or small groups, acting non-confrontationally to help prevent violence, maintain order, enforce rules, and report crime or crime-threatening situations. They increase their own and others overall security and safety with a minimal temporary increase in risk (Malie, 11/11/11 11:11am).
Children Providing Aid–Sri Lanka: Separated children in a conflict affected area of Sri Lanka identified the problem of child malnutrition and chose to weekly collect food from their own household supply and together decided to give it to children in greatest need (Hart, Atkins, Markey, & Youniss, 2004, p. 18). By helping meet the basic needs of children in their community, these children decreased other children’s vulnerability to military recruitment for survival (Bergquist, Penaranda, & G, 2001).
Bhutanese Refugee Children’s Forum–Bhutan: A network of children’s organizations working in IDP camps became know as the Bhutanese Refugee Children’s Forum. Children elected peers “at different geographical levels ('ward', 'sector' and so on) and it was their duty to air the concerns and aspirations of their constituents at regular meetings of their camp’s BRCF” (Hart et al., 2004, p. 19). By doing so, they were able to nurture a safer peaceful coexistence within their community, and practice increased productive peaceful civic participation, which helps decrease their likelihood of disillusionment (Hill, Davis, Prout, & Tisdall, 2004, p. 83; Sinclair, 2004, pp. 113-114) and attempts to bring change through violence.
Street Theatre & Protests–Israel/Palestine: Israeli and Palestinian youth have developed various creative nonviolent demonstrations including using street theatre to protest occupation (Svirsky 2001; (McEvoy-Levy, 2006, p. 19).
Civic Works and Reconciliation Dialogue for Ex-combatants–Sierra Leone: “Many [child and adult] community members reported that the civic works project, together with the psychosocial workshop and dialogues on reconciliation, had increased unity, reduced community divisions and improved relations between ex-combatants and civilians” (McEvoy-Levy, 2006, p. 43). Children and youth can help identify, organize and participate in civic work projects, and facilitate and/or participate in dialogues on reconciliation at local and national levels as seen in Colombia (Cameron, 2001) and South Africa (UNICEF, 2010).
Building Shared Meeting Places–Bosnia: Youth rebuilt a fountain to recreate a historic meeting place for young people of their deeply conflicted communities (McEvoy-Levy, 2006, pp. 197-203). Strengthening intergroup ties is critical for sustaining peace in deeply divided societies (Merkle, 2003, p. 214; Lederach, 1998; Lederach, 2005). This simple, inexpensive, reproducible, child-lead effort was an exemplary act of community reconciliation that provided an ongoing natural space for reconciliation.
Peer Reconciliation Groups—Australia: South Australian Youth Reconciliation Council (SAYRC) “organized peer education on reconciliation in schools, and contributed Indigenous perspectives to the Constitutional Centenary Foundation and to Youth Parliaments (Lincoln Ndogoni et al., 2002, Children and Peacebuilding: Experiences and perspectives, 47\:32\).” The Avila Girls College in Australia consisting of 7 to 12-years-olds also initiated their own reconciliation groups (Avila College, 2012).
Children in Truth Commissions–South Africa: Children’s participation in South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commissions was instrumental in: a) creating a more accurate historic record, b) offering children official, largely accepted, nonviolent public space to express their anger so as to help mitigate the risk of violent revenge, c) cultivating truer public memory for greater potential healing to occur, d) modeling children’s legitimate and meaningful civic participation (UNICEF, 2010).
MULTIPLE LEVEL EXAMPLES
YACSA Policy Research and Think-Tanks. Youth Affairs Council of South Africa organizes research and think-tanks on topics of interest to young people and the youth sector, thereby, creating opportunities for children to devise peacebuilding strategies, policy and action plans to present to NGO and government leaders (Youth Affairs Council of South Africa, 2012).
Film Making for Peace–South Asia: Children can build peace through “peer education, setting up child-led organisations, carrying out research or creating and producing programmes for the broadcast media. For example, in South Asia, Save the Children supported a children’s film-making group to produce films on violence against children” (Bond, 2006:19). The YACSA has also created media for policy promotion (Youth Affairs Council of South Africa, 2012).
Technology for Peace–Young activist use chat rooms, other web-based tools, and texting, to create virtual spaces for political interaction and activism (Boothby et al., 2006, p. 144). Children can use these tools to promote and implement national and/or local peacebuilding action plans and events.
Teaching Peaceful Conflict Resolution: In villages, schools, or IDP camps children can teach skills to other children for resolving conflict without violence.