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Native youth and peacebuilding
Justin de Leon
and
Jordan Bighorn

This chapter pushes peace studies scholars and practitioners to confront the absence of attention to indigenous approaches to peace and mediation. Native youth in North America face the challenge of imagining and creating a decolonial future amidst the realities of the settler present. Turning to Native teachings is a worldbuilding project for the authors, for Native youth and beyond. The chapter highlights the devastating reality of intersecting violences and oppression facing Native youth. Drawing from experience with Lakota traditions, they outline seven poles – point of a circle, conditions of creation, crying for a vision, ceremony of performance, travelling without moving, consummated transformation and the circle complete. These poles offer a roadmap forward for peacebuilders looking for new horizons built on Indigenous principles of reciprocity and balance, while at the same time, a letter for Native youth, an offer of a new worldview. The chapter draws attention to the disproportionate impact of ongoing violence and insecurity on marginalised youth within settler-colonial states in the global North and young people's leadership in resisting, surviving and building peace.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
Insurgency in Nigeria’s oil region
Obasesam Okoi

This chapter focuses on the aftermath of the peace accords in Nigeria’s long-standing civil conflict over oil in the Delta region. The chapter examines the results of a large survey conducted among youth in the area to assess the quality of that peace. In revealing that the accords paid too much attention to satisfying the demands of the leaders of the various factions at the expense of the training, education and betterment of the majority of the ex-insurgents, the chapter argues that the accords have turned into an anti-peace machine. In this case the young ex-insurgents who are dissatisfied by their continual marginalisation by the state utilise violence in an ‘industry racket’ to extract money from the state, which means that the accords themselves promote violence as a means to an end. In this case the ‘youth problem’ was generated by the Nigerian state’s unwillingness to engage with the most marginal youth among the ex-combatants, and by pandering to the desires of the elite leadership of the rebel organisations, creating resentment and violence where they would not have taken root otherwise.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
Symbolic violence and youth participation in peacebuilding in Sierra Leone
Catherine E. Bolten

The chapter examines how young people in Sierra Leone reproduce social norms that curtail youth political participation in order to ensure a continued presence ‘at the table’, even if that presence is silent and largely symbolic. It draws on Cynthia Enloe to examine how it is not enough for social subalterns to take up public space and nominally participate in political activities; they must be treated as people of consequence – they must be taken seriously – for that participation to be meaningful and potentially transformative for them. However, while youth are nominal participants in public life partly through the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sets quotas for youth participation in politics at every level of public life, they themselves often do not take their peers seriously, and thus reproduce patterns of participation that reinscribe hierarchical relations with adults and fail to be transformative themselves.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
Netra Eng
and
Caroline Hughes

This chapter reveals how the Cambodian government has nurtured a fear of a ‘youth problem’, imagining that their young electorate, who have no memories of the genocide or civil war, are growing critical of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and will agitate for democratic reform. In response, they have recently adopted a strategy of simultaneous co-optation and surveillance to promote allegiance to the government among the young. However, not only does a recent survey of the political attitudes of young people reveal instead that young people are more conservative and less prone to agitation than the government imagines but the picture is rendered more complex by the increasingly liberal attitudes of their parents. Cambodia’s ‘youth problem’ is ‘a series of elite ideological fantasies’ which stands in for real engagement with youth and obscures the widespread frustrations of the general population.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
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Futures for, with, and by young people
Helen Berents
,
Catherine E. Bolten
, and
Siobhán McEvoy-Levy

Categorisations of youth that rely on stereotypes, or framings that limit recognition and inclusion to those that conform or fit the narratives of non-youth actors and institutions, miss the already-occurring activity and contributions of youth. Despite this, often with limited resources and enormous logistical challenges, youth are active peacebuilders in their communities, countries and beyond. While these activities may not be legible to institutions or the state as peacebuilding activities, youth nevertheless persist in their efforts. Youth are not homogeneous, and, while this heterogeneity poses challenges to states and institutions who approach youth with preconceived notions, it also is a key source of strength and possibility for youth peacebuilders. Intersectional approaches to youth peacebuilding pay attention to the ways gender, race, class, geographical diversity and age shape young people’s experiences and contributions to peace. Young people’s peace work is often incredibly fraught and risky, motivated by lived experiences of violence and exclusion, and being active and visible peacebuilders may further raise their profiles as potential targets of violence. Youth peacebuilding work is also an act of worldbuilding in response to those risks and violences; with their actions being relational, intergenerational, generative and collective. Young people’s activities offer other ways of thinking about what peace means and where peacebuilding occurs. Close engagement with the complexity of experiences, expertise and contributions of youth has the potential not only to support young people but to build more peaceful and inclusive worlds for all.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
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A new generation of peacebuilders rising with resilience and courage from the ashes of conflict
Prashan de Visser

This chapter focuses on the work of Global Unites, founded in Sri Lanka and, in doing so, reflects on the importance of recognising the unique insights and contributions of youth movements, the obstacles they face in realising their vision and the reasons that youth movements might fail in their peacebuilding efforts. Global Unites draws together existing organic youth peacebuilding movements from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of Congo for training, reflection and mutual aid, teaching member organisations to use their collective strength to address the particular challenges of youth extremism through peaceful change-making. It offers a blueprint for generational change, as the ‘youth’ of today are the parents of tomorrow’s youth.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
Patrícia Nabuco Martuscelli

This chapter focuses on transitional justice mechanisms, revealing the political nature of these processes and young people’s inclusion within them. It analyses how children and youth’s role as peacebuilders are constructed in two complementary transitional mechanisms created by the Colombian Peace Agreement between the National Government and FARC-EP in December 2016: the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz – JEP) and the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition Commission (Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad, la Convivencia y la No Repetición – CV). The chapter traces the ways in which categories of victim are politicised, excluding certain children and youth and reinforcing particular narratives of the conflict. While the Peace Agreement opened the possibility of recognising children and youth as peacebuilders, the mechanisms of transitional justice do not guarantee their substantive participation.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
Lessons from South Sudan
Emmily Koiti
,
Bush Buse Laki
, and
Chara Nyaura

In this chapter three young peacebuilders from South Sudandiscuss the creation of their organisation Sixty-Four Children from One Mother (64-1M) as well as a platform they have created for amputees to tell their stories and raise awareness of their rights, and a process called ‘Taking Tea Together’. These efforts demonstrate the importance of relationship-building as a key peacebuilding activity and underscore how peacebuilding processes can rest on local innovation, direction and ownership with flexible international accompaniment. The chapter exemplifies the challenges of navigating power relations, building legitimacy for youth-led peacebuilding and strengthening local capacity for youth. Youth leadership for peace, this chapter argues, can be best supported by all actors listening and acting together.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
The idea of youth, and the Youth, Peace and Security agenda
Helen Berents

This chapter argues that the political project of youth inclusion must be kept in focus as the YPS agenda is institutionalised. The YPS agenda was conceived as a radical interruption to how young people are usually seen and dealt with in peace and security policy spaces. To say that youth, particularly those affected by conflict or insecurity, should be included in discussions and decisions about addressing and resolving those issues and (re)building society has the potential to challenge notions of expertise and knowledge, upset established power relations and unravel embedded ideas of who and what ‘youth’ are and how they should participate. Tracing the agenda’s emergence through relevant documents and key stakeholder interviews, this chapter explores the tensions and opportunities of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda that sits between an agential vision for youth inclusion and the potentially depoliticising effects of institutionalising an agenda. The chapter addresses the critique of youth inclusion in YPS as merely a neoliberal move to depoliticise and control youth by providing first-hand examples of both the silencing of youth representatives and their resistance and contestation within formal YPS meetings.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding
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Youth and sustainable peace
Helen Berents
,
Catherine E. Bolten
, and
Siobhán McEvoy-Levy

This chapter explores the theory and practice of sustainable peacebuilding and offers a three-part framework for considering a core puzzle: how are young people participating in sustainable peacebuilding and how can they be best supported and accompanied in their efforts? The chapter argues that youth continue to be securitised by states and international organisations, including through the new YPS agenda, their formal participation in institutional peacebuilding is fraught with issues of erasure and co-option, but young people also continue to build dynamic intersectional forms of peace outside of formal institutions and processes. This chapter summarises the different chapters in the volume and contexualises them within the existing peacebuilding literature.

in Youth and sustainable peacebuilding