The bulk of the world’s most violent conflicts happen in countries with youthful populations, and 80% of the world identifies as religious. However, youth and local religious actors are routinely under-utilized in peacebuilding, if not left out of the process altogether, according to this report published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. Youth leaders and religious leaders both can lend legitimacy to peacebuilding efforts and provide access to vulnerable communities. However, to maximize the impact of these groups in preventing conflict and sustaining peace, the international community and peacebuilding practitioners are encouraged to build trust between youth and religious leaders, identify allies in each of these communities, and involve religious actors, youth leaders, and religious youth in peace dialogues at various levels. Read the full report here.
Many of the most horrible conflicts today feature child soldiers. Considered a primary weapon by militias, these children are abused, corrupted and forced to destroy the societies they are supposed to inherit. In their report, Timothy Aduojo Obaje and Nwabufo Okeke-Uzodike from the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes write that incorporating youths into peacebuilding processes would help ensure they become agents of peace in their communities instead of agents of violent conflict. Obaje and Okeke-Uzodike point to resource conflicts in the Nigerian city of Jos, a former bastion of relative peace, as an example of how youth become mobilized for violence by political, religious, and economic pressures. While this and other examples lead many in the region to assume young people are inherently violence-prone, the authors note that developing youth-inclusive peacebuilding processes is one alternative to conflict, helping youth develop future prospects and positively contribute to their communities. Read more here.
Seeds of Peace inspires and cultivates new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict. They equip them with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace.
Seeds of Peace’s approach focuses on three types of change: personal and interpersonal transformation, and wider societal change. Their network now encompasses over 6,000 alumni throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and the United States who are uniquely positioned to lead change.