Barış İnşası ve Y Kuşağı – Generation Y and Peace Building
Kiev EuroMaidan Devrimi’nden Arap Baharı’na, Gezi Parkı’na, gençlerin etkisi artıyor.
Değişen dünya düzeni, devrimler ve global düzeyde gerçekleşen protestolar dikkate alındığında Y Kuşağının uluslararası alanda giderek daha önemli bir rol oynadığı görülebilir.
Peki barış inşası süreçleri düşünüldüğünde, bu süreçlere Y Kuşağı yeteri kadar dahil olabiliyor mu? Gençlerin başarılı bir şekilde dahil olduğu ve bu süreçleri etkilediği olaylar bulunuyor mu?
Ekip arkadaşımız Nathailie Versavel bu sorulara yanıt aradı. Kendisinin hazırlamış olduğu yazının devamını aşağıda bulabilirsiniz:
“UNDP’ye göre, dünyada 1.5 milyondan fazla insan çatışma alanlarında yaşıyor ve bunların çoğunluğu 30 yaşın altında. Buna rağmen gençlerin barış inşası süreçlerinde oynadığı role yeterince önem verilmiyor. Ancak bu durum yavaş yavaş değişiyor…”
Generation Y and Peace Building: How involved are we?
In 2010, Generation Y workers made up about 25% of the world population. By 2020, they will make up half the global workforce. What is Generation Y? Also known as millennials, it is a label given to people born during the 1980s and 1990s.
In light of the changing world order, revolutions, and social protests taking place globally, millennials are playing an increasingly important role in international affairs. From Kyiv’s EuroMaidan revolution to the Arab Spring, and Gezi Park in Istanbul, the power of young people is growing. However, what about Generation Y and peace building? Are we involved enough with such processes? The concept of peace building was introduced by the United Nations for the first time in 1992, and is broadly defined as “a range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development”.
The involvement of young people in peace building processes is a relatively new phenomenon. Due to a paradigm shift a few years ago, the once negative discourse on youth participation in peace building is changing. What was the reason for this negative discourse in the first place? The problem is that for a long time, youth groups were seen as the problem, rather than part of the solution. Two main assumptions are made about young people who are caught up in insecurities that hinder their involvement and voice in peace building processes. The first is that they are often seen as victims in conflict. Children in conflict ridden states have their present and future affected—they can be recruited to be a child soldier, become orphans, and can be forced to endure labor work. Young people are much more vulnerable than adults during insecurities so naturally are categorized as victims. However, the problem with this approach is that the responsibility for action is placed only on adults or the state. But can’t a young person be both a victim and take action?
The second generalization made about youth in conflict is that they are perpetrators or villains. As victims of conflict, children with no family or support are more likely to deal with conflict using violence. For this reason, they are easily influenced to become child soldiers or combatants. Unemployed youth with little opportunity for any positive engagement in their lives are a ready pool of recruits. Urban gangs grow from structural inequality and violence, as they feel excluded and organize their anger and more often than not, violence is the only way they know how to do this.
During insecurities or conflict, children need the most protection. However, these assumptions should not be generalized and should not hinder the potential that young people all over the world have to be agents for positive social change. Children being victims of conflict should not prevent them becoming involved in peace building processes, just as children being perpetrators should not be punished for their actions. Millennials have a unique power and must be involved in the world order. The discourse on this issue has been changing over the past few years and is starting to recognize the importance of generation Y and international relations. They are our future leaders and need to have the opportunity to understand the world they are living in. They are vital stakeholders in peace building processes and have the potential to have great and innovative input.
According to Mandola De Vos, a development analyst for Devex, there are a number of ways that we can facilitate the growing role that youth play in peace building processes. Firstly, they should have a safe space where they can participate and listen to one another on peace building issues. Given the younger generation’s high dependency on the internet, perhaps social media spaces are a great place to start. Secondly, they should be educated on the topic, not only at a university level but also in secondary school. It is also important to build trust between youth groups or societies and the government, as there are very channels for direct involvement. We should also promote intergenerational exchange to allow the younger generation to be influenced by their elders. Additionally, the monitor and evaluation processes of youth engagement should be closely analyzed. For example, are there safe ways for youth to get their voices heard? Do they have any involvement in politics? What are their successes and challenges? Lastly and most importantly, we should support the young people currently involved, or attempting to be involved in peace building.
With the changing discourse on youth involvement in peace building processes, the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development established Guiding Principles on Young People’s Involvement in Peace building. These principles are participation, diversity, gender sensitivity, competence, partnership, leadership, safety, and involvement. In 2012, the United Nations Secretary General highlighted in his report that “a successful peacebuilding process must be transformative and create space for a wider set of actors”. These above principles were designed to be a framework to include those generally excluded in peace building processes.
Have there been cases where youth have successfully been involved and influenced peace building processes? The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) published a conference paper in 2013 highlighting the role that young people have played in peacebuilding processes in Plateau State, Nigeria. Nigeria has been plagued by religious crises and resource disputes over the years and it has been said that youths were perpetrators of 90-95% of violence in the past years. However, a youth organization called Youth for Peace Building and Development in Africa (YOUPEDA) was formed in 2005. It is open to persons between the ages of 15 and 35, who collectively want to improve and expand the role of young people in peace building processes.
In Turkey, this discourse is also changing slowly—especially after the heavy involvement of young people with the Gezi Park protests, which turned into anti-government rallies. A survey conducted by KONDA, a Turkish Research and Consultancy company noted that the average age at Gezi Park was 28, with 31% of the protestors being between the age of 21 and 25, and 20% between the ages of 26 and 30. The Gezi Protests were clearly a youth movement.
A study conducted by the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery in 2005 stated that there is an “automatic tendency to problematize youth as a factor in violent conflict while overlooking their many positive contributions to a society”. Assumptions and generalizations should be overlooked, and the younger generation of today should be given a voice, as they will be the the world’s future leaders. There are more than 1.5 billion people living in conflict areas, and the majority of these are under the age of 30, however the role that milliennials play in peace building processes is not being given enough attention. Slowly, this is changing.
This article was authored by our team member Nathalie Versavel.