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The Role of Youth in Peacebuilding and Development

Article by Ahmad Bakdad | June 24, 2024 | Global Rights Defenders


Peacebuilding and development are essential for fostering stable and prosperous societies. In the current global landscape, where conflicts and socio-political tensions are prevalent, the role of youth in promoting peace has become increasingly vital. This article explores the critical contributions of young people in peace building through community work and advocacy, highlights the importance of diplomatic solutions over war, and underscores the impact of protecting human rights on sustaining peace.


Youth as Crucial Instruments for Peace

Youth have a unique capacity to drive positive change within their communities. Their energy, creativity, and willingness to challenge the status quo make them powerful agents for peace. Community work is one of the primary avenues through which young people can contribute to peacebuilding.


For example, in many conflict-affected regions, youth-led organizations have initiated community dialogues to address local disputes and foster mutual understanding. These dialogues often involve diverse groups, including different ethnic, religious, and political factions, and aim to build trust and cooperation. Through these initiatives, youth can break down barriers of mistrust and create a foundation for long-term peace.


Advocacy is another crucial area where youth can play a significant role. By raising awareness about issues such as violence, inequality, and injustice, young people can influence public opinion and policy. Youth activists use social media, art, and public demonstrations to highlight these issues and push for change. For instance, movements like the global climate strikes led by young activists not only address environmental concerns but also promote social justice and peace by advocating for equitable and sustainable development.


Diplomatic Solutions over War

The necessity of diplomatic solutions over war is emphasized in several international documents, including the Charter of the United Nations (1945). Article 2(4)[1] of the Charter explicitly prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, underscoring the preference for peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Diplomacy, negotiation, and dialogue are fundamental to peacebuilding as they allow conflicting parties to reach mutual understanding and agreement without resorting to violence. For instance, the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, was achieved through intensive negotiations and the involvement of multiple stakeholders, demonstrating the power of diplomacy in resolving protracted conflicts.


In contrast, war often leads to devastation, loss of life, and long-term societal trauma. It disrupts development, destroys infrastructure, and creates cycles of violence and retaliation. By prioritizing diplomatic solutions, societies can avoid these detrimental effects and build a more sustainable peace.


The Impact of Protecting Human Rights

Protecting human rights is fundamental to peacebuilding. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)[2], the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)[3], and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)[4] all emphasize the intrinsic connection between human rights and peace.


Human rights protection ensures that individuals are treated with dignity and respect, which is essential for social cohesion and stability. When people feel their rights are upheld, they are more likely to trust and engage with their communities and governments. This engagement is crucial for preventing conflicts and building inclusive societies.


Conversely, human rights violations can lead to grievances and social unrest. Discrimination, persecution, and inequality often drive marginalized groups to resort to violence as a means of asserting their rights and demanding justice. Therefore, upholding human rights is not only a moral imperative but also a practical strategy for preventing conflict and promoting peace.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the involvement of youth in peacebuilding and development is indispensable. Through community work and advocacy, young people can foster dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among diverse groups. Emphasizing diplomatic solutions over war aligns with the principles outlined in international documents and ensures more sustainable peace. Additionally, protecting human rights is crucial for maintaining social stability and preventing conflicts. By recognizing and supporting the role of youth in peacebuilding, societies can create a more just, inclusive, and peaceful world.


The Charter of the United Nations (1945), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) all provide a solid framework for these efforts, highlighting the importance of diplomacy, human rights, and the proactive engagement of youth in the pursuit of peace.


References

[1] United Nations Charter. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/un-charter/full-text

 

[2] Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights


[3] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, General Assembly resolution2200A(XXI),https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/international-covenant-civil-and-political-rights


[4] International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965, UN General Assembly resolution 2106 (XX), https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/international-convention-elimination-all-forms-racial

 

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