Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) convened civil society organisations and activists from south Serbia in Belgrade to introduce them to UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS), and design approaches of relevance to young people from their own local communities.
The participants included representatives of BeYond from Bujanovac, Be Active and Livrit from Preševo, and Naš Svet, Naša Pravila from Vranje, plus activists from each municipality. PCi has been working with these organisations to establish a network in south Serbia that can further the specific interests of young people. This includes with respect to the seven-point plan for the integration of the Albanian community, which contains several dimensions of relevance to young people, including economic recovery; education, culture, and media; and security and confidence-building measures.
The workshop began with reflections on engaging with young people in various communities in Serbia, including sentiments amongst young people and the extent to which their work is understood at the local level. This was followed by an introduction to the YPS agenda, focusing on its five key pillars – participation, protection, prevention, partnerships, and disengagement and reintegration.
The second day laid out a series of practical tools for peacebuilding, such as how to undertake a conflict mapping process and conduct a Positions Interests Needs analysis. This was followed by a discussion on how to advocate for peacebuilding and the YPS agenda, employing messages and terminology that resonate with young people not typically exposed to such discussions.
The workshop concluded with the design of tangible peacebuilding approaches, tailored to the specific challenges facing young people in south Serbia. This predominantly revolved around the Seven Point Plan pertaining to the integration of the Albanian community, and advocacy to promote a stronger role for young people in the articulation and realisation of solutions.
PCi’s work in the YPS domain builds upon valuable experiences garnered in Armenia, in conjunction with an Armenian NGO, the Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan (YCCD), testing approaches to promoting youth participation in decision-making and peacebuilding, underpinned by UNSCR 2250 calls to include youth in local, national, and international institutions.
The participants will deliver similar YPS-focused trainings within their own communities, thereby strengthening the capacity of young people to actively participate at the local level to raise awareness about specific challenges facing youth and to develop solutions to a range of problems. These young people will also be linked to regional and international structures dealing with YPS, thereby allowing them to exchange best pratices.
During their time in Belgrade, the participants also met with representatives from the Serbian Government’s Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, where they had the opportunity to provide perspectives on the needs and concerns of young people in south Serbia. With the Coordination Body recently appointing new leadership, this was a timely opportunity to present the first hand perspectives of youth.