UNOY Peacebuilders is a network of youth peace organisations from around the world. They currently have 80 member organisations in 50 countries. They have an office in the Hague coordinating the network, with four members of staff. They also have an International Steering Group, representing the different member organisations around the world, and a board based in the Netherlands.

Today almost half of the world’s population (48%) is under the age of 24. Of these, more than one billion are defined as youth, being between the ages of 15-24. This is the largest youth population the world has ever known. Developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), have predominantly young populations. A large share of the world’s young people live in a fragile and conflict-affected state or in a country where levels of criminal violence are very high.

A young population offers an opportunity for innovation, development and economic growth, but today’s young people are confronted with violence and armed conflict. A dichotomous viewpoint of youth as either perpetrators or victims of violence is very common. UNOY argues for an alternative viewpoint: one in which youth are recognized as positive agents of change and as advocates for peace.

The positive role that youth play in building peace and transforming conflict must be recognized. This recognition needs to take into account the interrelationship between social justice, sustainable development, human rights and peace as pervasive in the daily lives of the world’s youth. As stakeholders and (future) leaders, the inclusion of young people in peacebuilding processes ensures a relevant, representative and active category of society is equipped to positively contribute to peace and security.

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