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The Youth: Agents of Global Peace & Development

In a society that has always benefited in petty power politics, it seems beyond impossible to imagine a world free from violence and inequalities. Global Peace and development are concepts that must come hand in hand because peace is almost indispensable for development and vice versa. Essentially, in the absence of peace development cannot take place.

After witnessing the two World Wars, the world came to describe peace as the absence of war relegating the heaviness of the word peace to something as basic as the absence of war, which describes only a certain aspect of peace. The end of the Second World War led to the initiation of the United Nations into the world and its affiliated organizations to maintain global peace and the holistic development of all the nations. Global Peace should be looked at as an umbrella term that would encompass not just the absence of war but a collectivistic approach rather than an individualistic approach to fight the social evils all over the globe in order to achieve overall sustainable development.

In the present times where inequality of resources amongst the countries has been normalized, it is very essential to address these issues and work together towards global peace and development with the involvement of youth. When you ruminate about the term development, you realize that the term would have a different meaning to different sections of the population and to elucidate this statement with an example; Development for an industrialist would be to set up a power plant in a rural area leading to the displacement of the rural population from their land leading to selective development in the region. To acknowledge this subjectivity of the word 'Development' is the first step towards achieving global peace.

With the high pace of industrialization in the West and growing globalization developing countries tend to be on the losing side of this phenomena because it is often the case that it is the interest of the developed countries at the heart of the North/South relationship. This fundamentally creates an environment of exploitation where the rich countries get richer and the poor get poorer making peace and development in these developing countries a far-fetched dream.

With the brief discussion above about the interplay of global peace and development, it is imperative to address the role of the youth as members of a dynamic group in society in achieving global peace and development. Youth as the most important demographic structure is more often than not seen as a group who ought to be at the receiving end and are considered to be one of the most vulnerable sections of the society attributing them with adjectives like volatile, lazy, and reckless. With this stereotypical image of the youth, they are mostly not included in decision-making processes or seen as active change agents who can bring about global peace and development.

In contrast to what is often believed about the youth population, it is very essential to utilize the untapped potential of these youth for the greater good. With the zeal to do something like no other, if given the opportunity the youth would bring about positive changes in the society that no one else can.

According to the research by Celina Del Felice and Andria Wisler in their article "The Unexplored Power and Potential of Youth as Peace-Builders", it is observed that peace and conflict research has insufficiently considered youth as relevant actors in peacebuilding processes. Most psychological research data deems people in their youth to be more violent and indulging in delinquent activities. This is an issue commonly faced by the government of almost every country which in turn puts the pressure of bringing about peace and development on the state. Oscillating from being the victims to the perpetrators, the youths have been just assigned with these roles and have been cornered as passive agents in peacebuilding and development processes. It is essential to believe that active involvement of the youth in peace and development processes would also lead to reduction in crimes committed by the youth.

Even though many countries are eventually becoming cognizant about the importance of making global peace, development organizations, think tanks need to be more inclusive for the youth to bring about effective change in the world.

“To achieve this objective there have recently been a number of critical developments such as the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security of December 2015 which makes a clear recognition of positive contributions of youth to peace and sets an overall framework to support their efforts. In May 2016, the UN Peacebuilding Fund started its first Youth Promotion Initiative, which could play a key role to encourage youth leadership in peacebuilding.”

Additionally, to inculcate volunteerism in the education curriculum is one way to actively involve youth in areas such as poverty reduction, sustainable development, health education, youth empowerment, climate change, etc. School-Community engagements will involve students directly to contribute to the betterment of a community. This, in turn, will foster the feelings of empathy towards others, to especially the socially disadvantaged. This also helps the youth to have more agency than usual because they feel involved in development processes and this would eventually give way to a more to a peaceful world.

In conclusion, engaging the youth in all policy processes as agents of positive peace would also challenge the systematic problems in our communities. However, every person irrespective of their demographic has an important role to play in the betterment of the society and collectively achieve global peace and development. As Jimi Hendrix noted, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

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