“Youth” – a buzz word! The term suggests the name of an asset indeed. How many different key words come to your mind when you hear this word? I am impressed at the fantastic combination people use with the word youth by attaching so many other positive things in the world. Thanks to Sandra Melone – Executive Vice President of Search for Common Ground for reinforcing it in the Diplomatic Courier’s Future of Peace Summit held at Washington DC on Tuesday, June 14, where she mentioned that youth are now seen as a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.
The Future of Peace Summit, along with the contribution of youth in establishing peace in the Society in playing the role of Peace Core Volunteers, highlighted one very important aspect – Global Peace Index (GPI). It is a tool to quantify peace, just like we use as a tool to measure the Economic Growth of a country. It is important to remember that the goal related to peace – Goal 16 of the SDG, is a framework to help us work towards fostering positive peace in our own countries. The keyword to ponder about here is ‘positive peace’, because on the flipside of the coin, there is negative peace – which is the absence of direct violence or fear of violence, as defined by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP). This gives us the realization that just because there is a lack of violence in a place, it does not mean that peace prevails at that place. We need to work actively, and leverage youth potential to establish positive peace, which is defined by IEP as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.
From my personal experience of having worked in the academic field and with educators in Bangladesh, I have witnessed the fact that academic institutions can empower the youth as the drivers of change. It has huge capacity of establishing positive peace in the long run by carefully nurturing the youth through carefully designing the pedagogy. Ever thought how the simple things like the sitting arrangement and communication styles can affect the psychology of democracy? I shared my thoughts here. A couple of important facts about academia, youth and positive peace that I discovered from the Summit are:
- The U.S state department sponsors 9000 student exchange programs every year.
- Around 6 universities are providing peace & conflict studies to 100 peace fellows every year.
So now we should ask ourselves what we as individuals can do to establish positive peace in our regions.
The first one goes without saying – “Involving” the Youth. The others can be by relating our best practices to any of the following domains, as the IEP has identified these eight key domains, or pillars, that comprise positive peace:
- Well Functioning Government
- Sound Business Environment
- Equitable Distribution of Resources
- Acceptance of the Rights of Others
- Good Relations with Neighbors
- Free flow of Information
- High Levels of Human Capital
- Low Levels of Corruption
Take some time to look at each of the above and reflect on where we are. I remember working with Democracy International in Bangladesh, which was supported by the US Embassy of Dhaka, where I was training the young political leaders on different Soft Skills. This initiative of Democracy International through soft skills training such as “Communication Skills”, “Problem Solving Skills”, and “Decision Making Skills” has played a major role in contributing for “Well Functioning Government”, “Acceptance of the Rights of Others” and “High Levels of Corruption”. Similarly, it is quintessential to involve ourselves in the establishment in peace in the world, be they in large or small amount, by showing generosity to refugees, solving unemployment issues, or practicing ethical relationships!