With the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2250, the United Nations Security Council urged Member States to devise ways to give youth a greater voice in decision-making and enable their participation in peace processes. The field, however, lacks comprehensive and reliable data on youth’s positive contribution to peacemaking; hampering the creation of context-specific policies. To this end, the Resolution requested a Progress Study on how youth’s positive contributions to peace processes and conflict resolution, with the purpose of forming recommendations for effective responses at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

In support of the Progress Study, an exploratory survey was commissioned to map the activities of youth-led organizations already working in peace and security. The Global Survey on Youth, Peace and Security was developed in 2016, aiming to:

  • Map the global community of youth-led organisations working on peace and security

  • Identify the main working areas and activities of these organisations

  • Understand the impact of the work of these organisations

  • Learn about the needs of these organisations

The hundreds of responses received provided a broad overview of youth-led organizations’ activities, achievements, strengths, and needs. The survey is the first of its kind on the youth peacebuilding community and provides a broad base of knowledge for the Progress Study. It is also a valuable resource for practitioners and policymakers working on peace and security.

After analysis of responses from nearly 400 youth organizations, the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and Search for Common Ground are releasing a report on the findings this month. The report’s lead author and analyst, Rashmi Thapa, previewed some of the findings at an online meeting of the Washington Network on Children & Armed Conflict last week. Notably, the survey’s findings confirm assumptions about youth and their positive peacebuilding potential: that despite various challenges, youth are leading noteworthy endeavors for peace and achieving success.

The various challenges that youth-led organizations face begin with limited funding. Nearly half of all organizations surveyed operate on under 5,000 US dollars per annum and only 11% over 100,000 US dollars. Among respondents, 97% of their teams consist of unpaid volunteers. Yet, these youth-led organizations have succeeded in integrating youth in local and national decision making processes, preventing violence in their communities, creating formal and informal employment opportunities, and fostering social cohesion within communities. Their key strengths are in their ability to mobilize youth and communities, create trust and belonging within their organizational structures, develop expertise in youth, peace and security issues, and acquire credibility in their communities. In many places, youth organizations are key actors in transforming the structures and institutions that hinder the socio-economic and political well-being of people living in conflict affected communities.

The full report on the survey’s findings will be released in July 2017 with further analysis and recommendations. These findings provide a framework in which to understand the potential of youth in peacebuilding and decision-making. Key to enabling their engagement and involvement, as articulated in the survey findings, are:

  • Innovative investment in youth peacebuilding

  • Institutionalizing indicators for effective policy and programming

  • Sharing knowledge and resources

  • Growing partnerships with youth

In addition to helping policy-makers and practitioners better understand how to support and engage youth peacebuilders, the survey and its findings contribute to advancing a wider vision for the youth, peace and security field through the Progress Study.

Aubri Tuero Blog prepared by Aubri Tuero, intern at Search for Common Ground’s Children & Youth division. Aubri Tuero is a MA Candidate at American University’s School of International Service studying Global Governance, Politics, and Security. After graduation, Aubri hopes to continue working with and being an advocate for youth at the national and international level.

Group Photo Credit: SfCG