By Christian Cito
As part of its fifth iteration, the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) brought 60 young peacebuilders together in the first Latin America regional Young Peacebuilders’ Forum in Bogotá this month. Countries represented at the regional forum, which ran from July 15 to 18, included young peacebuilders from Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Suriname, Brazil, Haiti, and Bolivia.
Through this year’s theme— ‘Leaving No Youth Behind Through Resolution 2250 and Agenda 2030’— young peacebuilders chose to bring policy into action, to map youth engagement with Resolution 2250 and Agenda 2030, and to identify their significance for youth-led peacebuilding.
The Young Peacebuilders’ regional forum followed in the spirit of this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), where 47 member states of the UN gathered in New York to discuss promoting equal and inclusive societies. Among other recommendations, young peacebuilders at the regional forum in Bogota invited their governments, INGOs, bilateral actors, and the private sector for increased efforts to foster youth inclusion in peace and development processes in Latin America, by emphasizing:
Zero tolerance on human rights violations: Migration crises, the rise of xenophobic regimes, and the increasing cases of assassinations of social leaders and human rights or environmental activists are some of the recent alarms of a region with a worrisome trend of human rights abuses. It is critical that governments, INGOs, bilateral actors, and the private sector in Latin America take a firm stand to include youth in all measures seeking to deescalate the deterioration of basic human rights in the region. This also includes guaranteeing the protection of young peacebuilders, and human rights or environmental activists whose lives are at risk for denouncing human rights violations.
Support greater funding for youth groups and youth-led initiatives at local levels, for example through supporting youth peacebuilder networks and fostering local youth leadership. This should include flexible funding structures needed to build organisational sustainability at local levels.
Support the establishment of inter-generational dialogue spaces to discuss challenges related to youth inclusion in peace and development processes. These dialogue platforms would enhance inter-generational participation in the policy making process and should be composed of elders, political leaders, policymakers, and youth representatives from all backgrounds—especially those most left behind.