As most of the world’s attention focuses on the international atrocities perpetuated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh, continued global instability allows terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and others to aggravate and exacerbate conflict. As violent extremist groups predominantly recruit individuals between 15-30 years, it is crucial that efforts aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) engage this age group in developing and implementing solutions to the factors that make youth vulnerable to recruitment and radicalization to violent extremism and to highlight their contributions to international peace and security efforts. The need to involve youth in these efforts and engage them in building local resilience has been widely recognized by the international community and has been reflected in key policy documents like the European Council Conclusions on Counterterrorism (2015) and in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 (2015).
Indeed, recent P/CVE gatherings in Europe, the Middle East, and on the margins of the 2015 UN General Assembly, have produced frameworks and action plans created and led by youth networks Additionally, Jordan organized an Open Debate on “Youth and Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace” during its presidency of the Security Council and hosted the Global Forum on “Youth, Peace and Security” in Amman in August 2015. Furthermore, as part of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Horn of Africa Working Group, the co-chairs, the European Union (EU) and Turkey, organized an event focusing on Youth in the Horn of Africa held from 31 May – 1 June in Djibouti.
Building on these achievements and to reaffirm the important role youth can play in P/CVE efforts, on 22 September 2016 the governments of Belgium and Jordan and the EU co-hosted a high level event entitled “Global efforts in integrating a youth dimension in preventing and countering violent extremism” in New York. The event was held during the 71st United Nations General Assembly and back-to-back with the Seventh GCTF Ministerial Plenary meeting. It was part of a series of events on the topic held that day.
The event brought together over 120 participants from over 15 countries, including Jordan, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Spain, Finland, Kazakhstan, Denmark, Turkey, and the Netherlands, as well as representatives from the United Nations, P/CVE practitioners, youth organizations and civil society actors focused on P/CVE-related policy development, programing and implementation. The event provided a valuable platform to discuss practical ways of promoting youth participation and engagement in global, regional, national and subnational P/CVE initiatives.
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