International Youth Day 2017: the role of youth and peace building
11th August 2017
Every year on 12th August, the world celebrates International Youth Day. This important event is the brainchild of the United Nations, and was first celebrated on 12th August 2000, after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution accepting the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon in 1998. This year’s theme is ‘Youth Building Peace’, so we’re considering the role of youth and peace building, the role of youth in society, and offering tips to help you get involved in some peace building activities for youth this International Youth Day 2017.
International Youth Day is a fantastic opportunity for governments and people who work alongside our young women and men to raise awareness of youth issues worldwide. Events like this draw attention to problems surrounding a particular global issue with a focus on young people – those who can hopefully initiate positive change.
why is international youth day important in 2017?
We should all take note of this important celebration, as there are more young people on our planet than ever before! You may know that the UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24, but did you realise that they make up (according to The World Demographics Profile 2017) 16.16% of the world population?
It is estimated that the population of people aged between 15 and 24 years in 2017 is a whopping 1.18 billion. However, it is important to consider that over 600 million young people live in fragile and conflict-affected contexts and over 24 million of them do not attend school. So many young people carry the heaviest burdens of conflict and violence, yet they are also essential for any lasting solution leading to peace.
As an inspirational lady once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa.
Considering the needs and aspirations of young people in matters pertaining to peace is a demographic imperative, and has obviously influenced the theme for International Youth Day 2017, which is selected each year based on immediate and relevant issues facing the youth of today.
youth and peace building
Each year International Youth Day chooses a different theme to help draw attention to different youth issues around the world. Never has the theme for International Youth Day been so important! We live in a world where peace and harmony are of utmost importance to the majority of citizens in every country, at a time when both peace and harmony are being threatened worldwide. Therefore, the theme this year, Youth and Peace Building, will hit a chord around the world.
the role of youth in society
There is growing recognition that young people, as catalysts of change, can seriously contribute to the prevention of conflict, whilst initiating and sustaining peace. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.
“Young people… are essential for any lasting solution leading to peace.” Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, International Youth Day
Despite the fact that they are among the most affected by the negative aspects of our increasingly violent world, young people play active roles as agents of positive change. World leaders recognise the urgent need to engage young peacemakers in promoting peace and countering the more recent surge in terrorism.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said “Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels.”
Furthermore, International Youth Day’s, focus on youth and peace building, ensures that young people are provided with the ability, skills, motivation, recognition and support required to lead the global movement towards the creation of a peaceful world.
how you can get involved: peace activities for youth
This International Youth Day, why not seize the day, use your energy and drum up support from friends to organise a youth and peace building event? See our peace building activities for youth below:
- A concert promoting the worlds’ youth
- A youth talent show
- An art or poetry exhibition with peace theme
- Planting a peace garden
- Hold a sporting event, such as community football game
Some of our other peace building activities include:
- Facilitate a youth-led panel event – a diverse group of young people can discuss the refugee crisis and share how everyone can get involved in helping those who are most vulnerable.
- Advocate for those who are suffering in war – reach out to your government to take action by inviting your MP to a demonstration or campaign launch
- Use art in a public space – portray the challenges and opportunities of young people in conflict zones today
The UN offers resources like promotional material, ideas for events, and training material through its subsidiary agencies as well as its website, for independent entities world over to celebrate the day. Click here to check out their toolkit of ideas!
Find an issue that matters to you, contact your friends and on 12th August, make it happen. Get your activity some traction and/or recognition using #YouthDay or #YouthNow to spread the word at @PeaceChild and Peace Child International Facebook
Have a great International Youth Day, everyone!