Feature: Youth

In many conflict regions, young people below the age of 30 form the majority of the population. This youth is often faced with a dire socio-economic environment. High unemployment, insecurity and lack of participation in local and national governance are widespread challenges, often leading to violence. In these situations, what keeps young people from becoming victims or perpetrators (e.g. child soldiers or members of urban criminal gangs)? How come, others engage for peace, human security or community development, evolving into key drivers of change?

Key Findings on Youth’s Role in Conflict Transformation

  • Young people are important actors in conflict transformation;  often they are primary drivers of violent and nonviolent conflicts alike
  • Youth’s role is changeable itself, and depends on their societal environment,  role models and peer groups
  • Peer to peer  and multidimensional (e.g. political, educational, social, economic) approaches to working with youth have proven particularly promising;  this requires long-term and trustful relationships to meet young people`s need for accompaniment
  • Working with youth should always involve their families, educational settings, communities and (local or national) polities

The Berghof Foundation’s approach

All youth related projects of the Berghof Foundation place strong emphasis on needs assessment and skills development, taking into account youth’s interests, voice and agency.

More detailed information on the Berghof Foundation’s approach to youth you find in our Annual Report 2014.

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Projects on Youth

In our projects we pursue five interrelated approaches to youth in conflict and peacebuilding:

Strengthening individual capacities and identity as peacebuilders

Connecting youth from different conflict parties

Knowledge sharing on youth in conflict and peacebuilding

Providing learning spaces and media on conflict and peacebuilding

People's College >

Creating structures for youth participation

Thematic Grantmaking Focus

Youth as Change-Makers: From Conflict Actors to Peacebuilders

In 2013/2014, our Grant for Innovation in CT > focused on the roles and nonviolent strategies by which young people contribute to constructive conflict transformation.

In November 2014, the five supported project partners from Honduras/Guatemala, Indonesia, Macedonia, Nepal and Yemen joined us in Berlin for two days of joint reflection and presentations during the Berghof Grantee Conference. News Link >

The presentations reinforced how manifold the contexts are in which youth are finding their role and their voice. All supported projects placed strong emphasis on needs assessment and skills development, taking into account (and strengthening) youth’s interests, voice and agency. In several project contexts, the value of peer approaches stood out (“I am very excited to meet very open minded, active and inspiring young people” “we did not know each other before this programme but now we are like family” – project participants from Yemen), as did the connecting use of social media. Strengthening women’s roles formed an explicit goal in some other projects.

To learn more about the supported projects, please visit our grantmaking section.  more >

Related Berghof and Staff Publications

  • Véronique Dudouet: Violent mobilisation of youth gangs by political parties, in: UNSSC paper Understanding a new generation of non-state armed groups. United Nations System Staff College/zif, 2015. Link >
  • K. Planta & V. Dudouet. Fit for negotiation? Options and Risks in the Political Transformation of Non-conventional Armed Groups. NOREF report. 2015. Link>
  • Uli Jäger: Peace Education and Conflict Transformation. 2014. Handbook Article. PDF >
  • V. Brenner: Krieg und Flucht im Unterricht 2014. [German] Order (€10,00€ + postage)>
  • Günther Gugel: Gewaltprävention III. Für den Vorschulbereich und die Arbeit mit Kindern. 2014. [German.] Order Book (€ 28,80 + postage) >
  • Dekha Ibrahim Abdi: Working for Peace in Conflict Systems in Kenya – Addressing the Post-Election Crisis 2008. Handbook Dialogue Comment. PDF >
  • Martina Fischer: The Need for Multi-Dimensional Youth Work. 2007. Book Chapter >
  • Yvonne Kemper: Youth in War-To-Peace Transitions. Approaches of International Organisations. 2005. Report No. 10. PDF >
  • Martina Fischer & Astrid Fischer: Youth Development – A Contribution to the Establishment of a Civil Society and Peacebuilding. Lessons Learned from Bosnia-Hercegovina. 2004. Working Paper No. 2. PDF >
  • Stefanie Schell-Faucon: Conflict Transformation through Educational and Youth Programmes. 2001. Handbook Article. PDF >