Young people unite as guardians of peace

19 November 2018
Young people come together as one to shape lasting peace in their community. Through their unity, they want their voices to be heard by policy makers.

KAYIN, Myanmar - To protect their own future, young people in Myanmar are making themselves the guardians of peace.

“We, young people, are capable, responsible, active, passionate and clear about what we want”, said 19-year-old Nan Hnin Wut Yee from Kayin State, which is one of the war-torn regions in Myanmar. She participated at the Youth Camp in Hpa-an supported by UNFPA during October 2018. With spirit and determination, young people are determined to play a greater role in peace process of the country, particularly in observation of cease fires.

As a Myanmar saying goes, “the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”, the power of young people’s engagement can have a tremendous impact on the development of a country, and in a way that is genuinely sustainable.

Fostering a commitment to peace

Young people representing different communities, civil
society organizations and networks participate in a
youth camp in Hpa-an, Kayin State.

Throughout Myanmar’s history, young people have been engaging actively in the significant changes of the country. But there are still challenges to be addressed for youth to make their voices heard by policy makers, and for them to be more involved in the ongoing peace processes. For this reason, UNFPA is supporting physical spaces, such as youth camps in conflict-affected areas, to facilitate face-to-face dialogue among young people in order to strengthen reconciliation, and to encourage their interests and voices in peace processes.

Guided by the UN Security Council Resolution 2250, which recognizes the positive role youth can play in conflict prevention, peace building, and prevention of violent extremism, UNFPA is partnering with local NGOs such as Swe Tha Har, Youth Circle and Genuine People’s Servants. Together, they organize youth camps that foster the role and commitment of young people to the peace. Investing in youth is a strategic approach to building and sustaining peace in the country.

Building trust and friendship

The role of young people in the peace process and their understanding of conflict resolution are critical to the future. Youth can be a catalyst to speed up the process in building trust and friendship among different ethnic groups. One of the youth participants, Naw Wai Mar Oo expressed: “Understanding ethnic and religious identity through different perspectives gives me the insights on how to address conflicts”.

18-year-old participant Min Chan Thar from Hlaingbwe township said: “I want to be a parliamentarian in the future because I do want to change the mindset of young people in my community”.

When young people are motivated, they can trigger changes in the country. There are many strong voices like Min Chan Thar’s that call for change in their own communities. The youth camps support their commitment to peace in their own communities, and amplify their call for the peace.