On 23 and 24 May 2018, youth peacebuilders made their voices heard in Brussels, to recall the crucial role that youth can play in promoting peace, security and peacebuilding at the occasion of the EU Conference on Youth, Peace and Security.  


This Conference was part of efforts led by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President, Federica Mogherini, to put in place new mechanisms for young people to shape EU external policies towards the Mediterranean and Africa. During the event, Ms Mogherini underlined the importance of bringing to the policy table concrete case studies of youth-led social innovation and conflict-prevention that could replicated, scaled-up and invested in at the level of Member States, cities and municipalities.



"Youth are 70% of the population. Working on improving their education, integrating them in politics and social life is crucial to have peaceful and integrated societies", said Sami, a NET-MED Youth peacebuilder from Jordan. In turn, Majd, from Palestine, stressed that “youth are not only key actors of the present, they are the leaders of the future and they need to be involved as of now”.


UNESCO, through its EU-funded programme NET-MED Youth, organized two panels during the first day of the conference, at the European Parliament:

  • "Young people innovating for peace": This panel discussed unconventional and informal peacebuilding approaches and explored how young people harness the power of technology, media, sports and the arts to build peaceful and inclusive societies.
  • "Empowering young people to prevent/counter violent extremism": The overwhelming majority of young people are peaceful. Simplistic approaches overexpose "youth at risk", stereotyping young men as "potential perpetrators" and young women as "potential victims", while neglecting the peaceful majority. This panel featured groundbreaking youth-led initiatives to prevent/counter violent extremism and explored how these could inspire future approaches.


The event concluded with an interactive discussion between Ms Mogherini and young peacebuilders, held at the European External Action Service (EEAS). In terms of deliverables from the two-day conference and the youth, peace and security meetings and initiatives, the High Representative/Vice President said that the EU would:

  • continue to create open spaces for young people to come together, build long-term relationships and directly engage the EU
  • expand this community with youth from Asia and Latin-America
  • work on translating some of the proposals put forward by young people into projects by the EU, or by partners governments or local authorities
  • promote funding for youth work at all levels and pilot a youth consultation on thematic and country-specific EU policies.




"The EU needs to include youth in our actions, policies and projects". That was the message that Ms. Mogherini passed to young peacebuilders at the closing session. "We are trying to create space for various ideas to be heard in EU foreign and security policy”, she went on, “and the aim is to empower people to participate in politics”. In this regard, according to Noor, from Tunisia, it is important to support “innovative models for public participation at local level, monitoring of youth’s representation in media and  South-South and North-South exchanges”, approaches that were all facilitated under the NET-MED Youth project. Her compatriot Elyes insisted “it is crucial to create a sphere of security and peacebuilding to allow countries to complete their transition to democracy in a structured way”. 


The "EU Conference on Youth, Peace and Security" a represented a partnership between the EU, the UN and civil society, and brought together 70 young peacebuilders, representing 27 EU countries and 29 partner countries, who are engaged in nine EU youth networks from Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean. The event was part of the EU's implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (UNSCR 2250). It built on the work done by various EU networks and initiatives to promote youth in peacebuilding, such as NET-MED Youth.



Learn more about EEAS.  

Learn more about UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels.

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