P Track

Pathways to Peace and Justice: The Role of Youth

Grand Ballroom


Ali Mustafa, Youth Representative to U.N. Department of Global Communications

Aubrey Cox, Youth Program Lead, U.S. Institute for Peace

Steve Chase, Manager of Academic Initiatives, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Quscondy Abdulshafi, Peace Activist, Research Consultant at Dexis Consulting Group

Farheen Naveed, CEO, Drug Free Pakistan Foundation



War and violence not only destroy human lives but also bring devastating long-term implications such as the destruction of infrastructure, livelihoods, and economies, which in turn causes thousands to flee as refugees. Youth are often the group most adversely affected by conflict, as conflict can wipe out educational and economic opportunities. For example, 1.8 million children and adolescents in Syria lost access to school due to conflict, and 50% of youth in Palestine are unemployed. Moreover, many children around the world are still forced to work as soldiers, and according to the Child Soldiers World Index, “At least 46 States still recruit children under the age of 18 into their armed forces.” Additionally, we are seeing the emergence of youth being targets of online radicalization — social media being a particular channel used by terrorist groups such as ISIS for recruitment. On a global scale, although approximately 50% of the 1.4 billion people living in countries impacted by crises and fragility are under the age of 20, the role of youth is often ignored and youth have typically been one of the most excluded groups from peace dialogues. United Nations Member States recognized this lack of representation with the 2015 adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace, and security, which urges countries “to increase the inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels.” Nonetheless, much more work on the inclusion and representation of youth is needed, and better guidance offered on how youth can push for a better world without falling into violence and conflict. This panel will aim to discuss not only how youth are affected by conflict, but also practical ways in which youth can engage in peace efforts and support non-violent movements, both safely and meaningfully.

Possible Discussion Points:

  • What do you think is the role of youth in peacebuilding efforts? What are some practical ways youth can contribute to peace efforts?
  • What specific strengths do youth have to harness to make an impact in peacemaking efforts?
  • How are the youth in particular affected by wars and conflicts? Have they been increasingly affected in recent years?
  • Aside from national or civil wars, what other causes of violence have the most effect on youth, and how can these be prevented?
  • How can youth be better protected from violent extremism? Many terrorist organizations are now attempting to use social media to radicalize youth – how can this threat be mitigated?
  • Is modern technology and social media changing the role of youth in peace and conflict – if so, in a positive or negative way? How can young people harness technology to do good?
  • Has the inclusion and recognition of youth in official peace processes improved since the adoption of Resolution 2250? How might these efforts be further fortified?
  • What advice would give to young people in a conflict zone? How about young people in an area where tension is building and future conflict is possible?
  • For young people living in a country where there are significant social issues, how can they push for change and relieve tension in a safe and non-violent manner?
  • How important are gender issues to consider in peace and non-violent movements?
  • How could education be improved to better prepare young people for peace and conflict issues?