Time is now for the U.S. to include, empower, and resource young peacebuilders globally

Time is now for the U.S. to include, empower, and resource young peacebuilders globally

Papaioannou Kostas via Unsplash

Peace Direct applauds the re-introduction of the Youth, Peace & Security Act of 2021 in the U.S.

 

Earlier this year, we called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce measures to support the fundamental human rights of young people. Today, we commend the introduction of bi-partisan legislation in the U.S. Congress that recognizes the positive role young people play in peace and security. The legislation also commits the U.S. to greater support for youth-led peacebuilding.

 

Earlier this year, we called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce measures to support the fundamental human rights of young people

 

The global youth population now stands at over 1.8 billion, and in conflict-affected regions around the world, young people make up the majority of the population. Around the world, they are at the forefront of global movements against climate change, violence, and injustice such as #BlackLivesMatter, #ENDSARs, and #MilkTeaAlliance. Young people are building movements for change in Colombia, Myanmar/Burma, Nigeria, the United States, and many other places. This legislation comes at a critical time to ensure that their efforts to resolve conflict are supported and acknowledged.

We applaud the leadership of members of the U.S House of Representatives Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in supporting this policy change.

 

“This is a critical moment for the U.S government to follow up on their commitments to protecting young people. We need to see genuine and sustained government support that acknowledges the efforts of young people building peace in their communities, and help protects them against growing threats they face. The YPS Act is an important step to creating the policy environment where young people are valued as change makers and future leaders.” – Bridget Moix, U.S. Executive Director

The H.R.4838 legislation—the Youth, Peace, and Security Act of 2021 (YPS Act)—recognizes the vital role youth play in reducing violent conflict and building peace. Their efforts help de-escalate tensions, stop conflict from spreading, prevent recurring cycles of violence, improve the effectiveness and sustainability of peace agreements, and strengthen a culture of peace and security.

 

What changes will the YPS Act bring?

  • A strategy for support: The US government will be required to develop and implement a holistic strategy to support youth-led peacebuilding that encompasses programming, funding, and consultation across government. This will involve coordination between the U.S Department of State, USAID, and Department of Defense.
  • Better coordination: A Youth Coordinator will take on the task of ensuring that USAID commitments to youth are prioritized and implemented. This role will coordinate and review the interagency strategy on conflict prevention, management and resolution. They will also oversee the strategy on post-conflict relief and recovery efforts in relation to youth to ensure that promises are upheld.
  • Greater funding: More funding to the State Department and USAID will be authorized by Congress for youth peacebuilders to close the historical gap in funding for youth initiatives. Specifically, a Youth Peace and Security Fund will provide grants, emergency aid, and technical assistance to youth and youth-led organizations for peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery.
  • Youth leaders connected: An advisory group of experts on youth will be established to connect youth leaders with U.S. government officials to consult on YPS strategy, development, and program implementation. The advisory group will be made up of members of civil society, international organizations, and U.S. government entities, with at least 30% of the group being young people themselves.

This change in policy is a critical opportunity to support young peacebuilders. We will continue working to ensure U.S policy makers empower, resource and include the efforts of young people to prevent and resolve conflict around the world.

 

Here’s what’s next for us

  • As Co-Chair of the Government Advocacy Sub-Committee for the Youth, Peace and Security Coalition,  Peace Direct  will focus on building off the momentum of the introduction of this legislation to garner co-sponsorships of other House of Representatives Members to support Rep. Meng, Rep. Phillips, Rep. Curtis, and Rep. Fitzpatrick’s efforts.
  • In the House of Representatives, we will push for a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee to generate conversation and attention by other policymakers in Congress and within the Biden administration.
  • We will focus on garnering support in the U.S. Senate to introduce a similar legislation to compliment the efforts in the House of Representatives.
  • We will continue to support locally-led youth peacebuilding initiatives around the world, through our ‘Youth Action for Peace’ project.

What can you do?

  • Write to your Member of Congress and Senators and urge them to cosponsor the H.R.4838 legislation.
  • Show your support for the legislation on social media by using the hashtags #Yes4YPS and #Youth4Peace.
  • Make a donation to Peace Direct to support youth peacebuilders around the world, and ensure they have the resources to make change happen.

Support youth peacebuilders now 

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