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    Friday, August 25, 2017

    The Role of Youth in Peace Building

    Youth for Peacebuilding

    By: Elias Gbadamosi

    The Cost of Violence
    From the hills of Aleppo to the mountains of Pakistan, drums of war resonate. From the plains of North America to the forests of Maiduguri, echoes of terror reverberate. Countless number of women, children, and vibrant youth lose their lives annually either as victims or perpetrators of war and violence. 

    In violence stricken countries, efforts to reduce poverty and illiteracy have been hampered because money that is supposed to be spent on raising people’s standard of living is spent on purchasing instruments that ruin their lives and on building mass graves to cover their charred bodies.
    According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people in the world is about 66 million; the highest number since World War II.

    The annual Global Peace Index report of 2015 revealed that the economic impact of violence to the global economy in 2014 was about $14.3 trillion or 13.4% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is equivalent to the total economic output of Canada, France, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and the UK put together. Imagine how far that amount if those were spent on development projects would take us on our journey towards achieving sustainable development.

    Why is Peace Important
    Peace guarantees human freedom, promotes the well-being of people, and fosters the prosperity of individuals and nations – no wonder it is often said that “Without peace, there can be no development”. Peace and development are in a strong relation with one another; in fact, one cannot survive without the other. Without an iota of doubt, peace is one of the most prized values of human beings.

    The Role of Youth in Peace Building 
    Since the year 2000, August 12 has been set aside as International Youth Day to call attention to issues that affect young people across the globe. It is in recognition of the vibrant role that young people can play in curbing violence that 2017 International Youth Day is themed Youth Building Peace. The crux of this year’s celebration is to celebrate young people’s contribution towards peace building and to emphasize their role in the fight against war and terror.

    Integrating the views of youth in peace deliberations has become imperative because young people constitute almost a third of world population. Unfortunately, the majority of them live in embroiled regions. Youth are the most affected by violence either as victims or perpetrators; therefore, they must play an active role in building peace and curbing violent confrontations. 

    Young people can embark on the journey towards building a violence free world by forming strategic alliances in forms of non-governmental organizations and clubs that focus on value orientation and peace advocacy. As ethnic and religious differences are among the leading causes of violence and terror in the world today, youth of different religious and ethnic affiliations can look for common grounds across their cultures and faiths to preach peace in their communities.   

    Moreover, young people being the doyens and connoisseurs of the media space today can use their influence whether in music, movies, television, and radio to promote peace.

    In addition, the case of Nigeria’s Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that rocked the world a few years back shows that the internet is one veritable tool that terrorists use to incite violence. However, we can turn the tide by using the same tools of technology massively (social media especially) to drown the voices of hate by raising our voices to sue for peace.

    It is obvious that youth alone cannot resolve the world’s entrenched conflicts. With adequate support from adults, world leaders, and policy makers, young people are sure to win the war on terror one country at a time.    

    Happy belated International Youth Day 2017!

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