2017 International Youth Day: Youth Building Peace

The Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, collaborating with the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding on Friday, 11 August 2017 hosted the International Youth Day 2017 event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York under the theme of “Youth Building Peace”.

The event took together experts from civil society organizations, government agencies, and the United Nations bodies to explore the various ways in which young people are contributing to building and sustaining peace around the world.

The event opened with the presentation from 3 countries on how they‘re working with young peace builders. “Education promoting is necessary. Change thinking is the first step to change actions” Mr. Halvos Saetre, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN.

A panel discussed youth-led peacebuilding and violence prevention. “The greatest lesson that I learned was that the youth have a great power to impact communities they’re living in” highlighted Mr. Imrana Alhaji Buba, founder of a youth coalition against terrorism in Nigeria.

The succeeding speakers proved this to be true by sharing some of their experiences and challenges in leading peace and positive change in their communities. One of them is an organization called ScholarChip which aims to get scholarships for incarcerated parents children.

Another inspiring story was presented by Mr. Tito Quiroz Angulo, Founder of the Benning Academy of Music. He shared the difficult life that many people are experience and the great power of music that has helped them to become better and have a better perspective in life.  “Music, love, and service can make a difference in people’s lives,“ Tito shared.

The second panel discussed the topic of Youth Sustaining Peace and Reconciliation. The discussion was led by Ms. Juliana Antiá Garciá, Participation and Peace Education Advisor at United Nations Development Program in Colombia. She also shared how young people and youth organizations globally are sustaining peace. WYA believes that potential of each person and the creativity they represent for the development of economic activity and the care of the environment.   

Ms. Emilia Hannuksela, an Associate Expert at the Finnish Human Rights Centre, highlighted the important role of governments to create equal opportunities for everyone to participate in the discussion, including young people and youth organizations.

WYA‘s Declaration on Solidarity states that “We believe that solidarity is the unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good. This begins with a fundamental recognition and common understanding of the human person.”

World Youth Alliance is glad to take part in the event to celebrate youth building peace and security. WYA strongly supports young peace builders and trains young people of every background from every corner of the world in social development, education, trains them to advocate for the human person and develop creative solutions to real world problems. Click here to join WYA.

Written by Antanas Bernatonis, a WYA Headquarters’ Intern from Lithuania.