Young people have been at the forefront of advancing the Youth Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda in Southeast Asia. This can be seen through their engagement via their youth organizations and networks, as well as through their different affiliations, as they influence decision-making, engage in peace and political processes, and lead online and offline social movements.
Young people’s work in YPS is contextualized in the multidimensional and diverse experience and challenges of peace involving issues on gender equality, ethnic and racial divisions and discrimination, Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE), and human rights. In recent years, national governments, as well as regional and international organizations, have been building on these youth-led and youth-focused initiatives to advance the YPS Agenda. For instance, the Philippines is currently finalizing one of the world’s first National Action Plan on YPS (NAPYPS), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is currently looking at advancing the YPS Agenda.
This paper outlines the recent challenges, developments and opportunities in advancing the YPS Agenda in Southeast Asia. It further highlights that formal structures, regional policies and focused programmes, should support, build on and invest in the existing efforts by young people to strengthen initiatives and mechanisms for their systematic and meaningful engagement, which is crucial for the advancement of the YPS Agenda in the region.
This paper was co-authored by Erika Isabel Bulan Yague and Luis Darío Gómez Duque, who both served as UN Volunteers in the Asia-Pacific Division of the United Nations Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations during the period 9/2020-1/2022 and 2/2021-1/2022, respectively. The paper was developed in consultation with the ASEAN Youth Organization, the Asian Youth Peace Network, and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders.