Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

von Victoria-Charlotte Browning
The missing piece


"We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without leveraging the power of women and building on the tremendous energy of youth."

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

2018 has already proven to be a year of milestones on the UN's Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda. Not only was the independent progress study mandated by Security Council resolution 2250 presented in April (the extended version of the study will be published this fall) but the Council also passed a new resolution on youth under the agenda item "maintenance of international peace and security" on June 6th 2018.

Despite of the important milestones reached on the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda much work remains to be done in fully translating resolutions 2250 and 2419 into practice. The New York Office of Konrad Adenauer Foundation leveraged the momentum of the recently published progress study on the youth's positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution and invited a group of young leaders from different academic and professional fields to participate in a comprehensive program on the UN's Youth, Peace and Security agenda from June 10th - June 13th 2018. The members of the delegation hail from Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda and have analyzed resolution 2250 and applied it to their respective research focus and country situations leading up to their visit to NY. During the program "Youth, Peace and Security in Africa: the missing piece", KAS NY intended to deepen the evaluation of resolution 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018) and the independent progress study by holding talks with key experts working on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda in the UN community.

Talks were held - among others - with Graeme Simpson, lead author of the progress study on Youth, Peace, Security; Dr. Marc Sommers, expert adviser to the progress study; the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, Columbia University's Earth Institute, the Secretariat for the progress study on Youth, Peace and Security (UNFPA & PBSO); the Inter-Agency Working Group on Youth & Peacebuilding; UNICEF; the World Bank and UN Women.

Resolutions 2250 and 2419 are beacons of hope giving youth a powerful instrument to address conflict and violent extremism, accelerating their efforts to build inclusive peace. Young people can use these resolutions to engage their governments and support the important work they are already championing on the ground. Much positive progress has happened since resolution 2250 was passed in 2015: in many countries coalitions on Youth, Peace and Security have formed, dedicated programs focusing on young people are being designed, civil society organizations have mobilized to support the initiatives of young people around the globe, UN country teams have implemented ambitious youth programs and donors are dedicating more funding towards youth.

The recently published progress study mandated by Security Council resolution 2250 offers invaluable insights on the hopes and demands of young people. The study identifies a growing mistrust among young people towards political institutions, recognizes that only a small minority of youth ever engage in violence and warns against overly oppressive policies targeting youth out of a policy panic, leading to their exclusion. Graeme Simpson, the lead author of the study debunks the myths of young women as victims and rather identifies them as powerful agents of change and youth in general as the missing peace for successful peacebuilding. Simpson argues that countries can turn their demographic dividend into a peace dividend if they transform systems that exclude young people, protect their human rights and leverage their creativity and potential to drive change. Simpson offers tangible recommendations that tap into the strength of young people, showcasing how to regress mistrust and open new paths for meaningful participation of youth.

Energized through the abundance of information the delegates to the KAS program on Youth, Peace and Security received in New York, the group is currently working on a paper analyzing the opportunities and pitfalls of implementing the recommendations from the progress study and resolution provisions on the national level. Check back on International Youth Day - August 12th 2018 - to read our report.