Young people represent the largest demographic dividend in most conflict-affected countries. Still, this key demographic is too often reduced to stereotypes of “perpetrators” and “victims”; as drivers of conflict rather than enablers for peace.
Proactively including young people in peace efforts contributes to preventing conflict, more sustainable peace agreements and more human-centered solutions to conflict. With the increased recognition for the importance of engaging youth as partners for peace and security, starting with UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), the international security community should explore the agency of youth for peace. Defense and security stakeholders can greatly benefit from understanding the challenges of young people in conflict-affected societies and how their systematic engagement can lead to sustaining peace.
The 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) was held from February 18 to 20, 2022 at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. As part of the MSC conference, Amerikahaus – Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations, Kofi Annan Foundation, Search for Common Ground, German United Nations Association, German Youth Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland organised an officials side event: Why Youth Matters – The Missing Piece for Peace and Security, on February 18th 2022.
Building a bridge from policy to practice, the event sought to highlight the necessity, opportunities and practical ways of including youth in peace efforts. Participants discovered how states, international organizations, civil society and youth activists are contributing to security and how they can further advance these efforts.
“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.” – Kofi Annan
The event aimed to inspire further action towards mainstreaming the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda into action – just in time before the UN Secretary-General is expected to publish a report on Youth, Peace and Security in 2022.
More information about the event
Welcoming remarks: High-level official of the German Foreign Ministry, of the European Union or of the UN Secretariat
- HE Pekka Haavisto , Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland
- Julius Kramer , Youth, Peace and Security Adviser, UN Mission in Somalia
- Ret. Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Watkins , Canada, and Director of Capacity Building Programs at the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security
- Achaleke Leke , African Union Youth Ambassador for Peace for Central African sub-region
- Sheila Roquitte, Deputy Development Advisor to AFRICOM at USAID
- Hajer Sharief, Together We Build It and Extremely Together Young Leader of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Libya
- Aisha Khurram, Former Afghan Youth Delegate
- Dr Shelly Whitman, Executive Director, Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security
- Burundi Police Commissioner
Moderator: Saji Prelis, Director, Children & Youth Programmes, Search for Common Ground, and Co-Chair, Global Coalition on Youth, Peace & Security
More resources about Youth, Peace & Security
Learn more about our youth-led initiative to combat violent extremism, Extremely Together >>
Information about the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015) >>