Youth Peacebuilders Share Policy Recommendations to Address Violent Extremist Narratives
Bangkok, Thailand, June 27, 2022: 46 youth peacebuilders convened in Bangkok, Thailand to advocate on behalf of their work and their communities in South Asia. The ALLY Policy Dissemination Event was one of several engagements between fellows from the European Union-funded ALLY project and regional policymakers.
The regional gathering was the keystone event for ALLY – Amplifying Leadership of Local Youth – a 30-month European Union-funded project empowering youth working to address violent extremist narrative and build peace in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The project began in March 2020 with participatory action research that engaged 69 active young peacebuilders to produce comprehensive evidence-based regional and country-specific policy briefs. A fellowship program began in May 2021 that includes technical training and financial support to the fellows to design and implement 24 Social Action Plans (SAPs).
With research and real world experience, ALLY staff and fellows, welcomed key stakeholders and policymakers to hear directly from the youth peacebuilders on the real-world impacts of their work, opportunities for change stemming from the ALLY fellows’ SAPs, and their policy recommendations.
Fellows discussed the importance of government platforms and policies that include youth as active participants, allow access to international and national donors to build and sustain peace, and implement the Youth Peace and Security agenda and UNSCR 2250 as a focus in peacebuilding activities, among other topics. This collective regional advocacy by young peacebuilders is very timely because government of all the four focused countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) have adopted a joint statement on promoting the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) agenda in the 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers Meeting in August 2021.
With the regional engagement completed, fellows returned to their countries to conduct national level advocacy engagements. Key policy recommendations include:
- Institutional Youth Participation: Ensure youth inclusion in political decision-making processes to establish a collaborative environment between youth and government.
- Encourage Flexibility and Accessibility: Differentiated policies should be established which make registration processes more transparent and consistent and less complex and costly for youth-led organizations and NGOs with small budgets.
- Ensure Meaningful Youth Representation: Consider youth as an important and active stakeholder in all social policy development processes. “National Youth Council” is a great first step.
- Stronger National Youth Assembly: strengthen the National Youth Assembly and take steps to make it a more effective platform for youth inclusion in policy making processes.
- Space for Youth: Listen to young voices and utilize their energies in serving and advancing their local communities. Proper policy planning is needed to make such initiatives more useful and effective.
- Establish Specific Information: A well-documented and updated, accessible framework with all necessary information on documents, links, and connections by the Bangladeshi NGO Affairs Bureau would help streamline the registration process.
- Create Local Funding Mechanism: Additional and sustainable local funding opportunities for PVE should be created. Besides fund-disbursing organisations, the private sector could contribute through corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding.
- Revision, Integration, and Development: Integration of peace, tolerance, inclusion, diversity, and global citizenship in the existing education curriculum would greatly facilitate peace and development programs in the long run.
- Resume Relevant Institutions: Resume the transitional justice process.
- Non-Discriminatory Policies: Reform policies and legislation that are discriminatory against minorities.
- Establish National Action Plan: Formulate a comprehensive national roadmap towards preventing violent extremism that includes youth based on the 2015 plan of action to PVE of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
- Establish Bodies for Social Cohesion and Youth: Create a special body for social cohesion similar to ministries or the Reserve Bank of India.
- Enact Flexible Policies and Regulations for youth-led PVE: Create sustainable, locally-focused peacebuilding organisations with legal support, easier bureaucratic processes and access to local funding opportunities.
Not only are youth highly affected by violent conflicts and extremist narratives, they also play a crucial role as positive change agents working closely with those most susceptible to multiple forms of violent extremism and demonstrating why their inclusion in peacebuilding is crucial to long-term, systemic change across South Asia.
Following the completion of all activities in August 2022, ALLY consortium partners will continue to support ALLY stakeholders through regional engagements, particularly the Network’s Asia Working Group and UNOY’s Asia Youth Advocacy Team. Those interested in future opportunities should follow the Network’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Amplifying Leadership of Local Youth (ALLY) intends to amplify young people’s constructive voices and agency in addressing diverse factors of violent extremist narratives in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is a 30-month program funded by the European Union, launched in March 2020, and implemented by The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers with a consortium of partners: United Network of Young Peacebuilders, Finn Church Aid, Youth Development Foundation, Sri Lanka Unites, Rural Development Society, and Centre for Communication and Development. Combined, the consortium carries 100+ years of experience in youth-driven peacebuilding and capacity development.
For more information please contact:
Name: Philip Gassert
Position: Project Coordinator
Company: The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers