The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history, with over 1.8 billion youth and adolescents. Young people who lack opportunities for education, employment or training that can meaningfully enable them to lead fulfilling lives, may become vulnerable to narratives and activities that propagate intolerance and glorify violence. Yet young people and youth-led organizations can also act as agents of change in support of approaches that prevent violence, promote tolerance, and build resilience in their communities. To support this, it is important to actively empower and engage young people in their communities and decision-making processes.
As recognized by the Security Council resolutions on Youth, Peace and Security 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018) and 2535 (2020), young people play a critical role in peacebuilding, terrorism prevention and the resolution of conflicts and violence. A recently launched UN Secretary-General’s policy brief “A New Agenda for Peace” also underscores the vital role of young people in shaping their future and the necessity of enabling their effective and meaningful participation in initiatives aimed at preventing terrorism and promoting peace.
In line with this, UNODC is launching an initiative on Youth-Led Action to Prevent and Respond to Terrorism. The endeavour will support the establishment of a global network of youth-led organizations working on preventing terrorism and violent extremism. At the heart of this initiative is our commitment to empower youth to meaningfully contribute to and lead the change in their communities and beyond, including by applying a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach. The Youth-Led Action places a strong emphasis on the involvement of young leaders at every stage of the process and encourages their participation in the design and implementation of initiatives aimed at preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
To foster an inclusive and participatory approach, UNODC brought together youth stakeholders and civil society representatives to exchange perspectives on advancing the Youth-Led Action initiative on 13 September 2023. During this online consultation, participants engaged in a meaningful dialogue to explore ways to enhance the initiative's impact and effectiveness. They also emphasized the importance of providing young people with employment opportunities, equipping them with entrepreneurship skills, fostering interreligious dialogue, and providing other incentives as some of the means to address the risks of radicalization.
Youth-led and youth-focused organizations can engage with the Youth-Led Action initiative through the WhatsOn platform, which serves as a link between civil society organizations working on crime-related issues and UNODC. In addition, young leaders can contribute by becoming a member of a youth-led board and support the selection of grants that will provide funding opportunities for eligible youth-led organizations to implement community-level projects aimed at preventing violent extremism.
The Youth-Led Action initiative is supported by the Federal Republic of Germany.