Saturday, 16 January 2016


Globally, more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30. Global youth unemployment rate has reached its highest peak for decades. It has been estimated that approximately 1.3 billion young people will enter the global labour market during the next decade, but only 300 million are expected to be employed.
To the young person whom a lot has been invested in for years and then become unemployed coupled with pressures from family and friends, peace may not be an important thing. To someone who cannot make ends meet as a result of being underemployed, peace may be a scarce commodity. To the one who also feels that he or she has been denied the enjoyment of certain rights or has been discriminated against in any form, peace may never be a priority. The central issue will be that of survival. How to make use of that skill or knowledge acquired in order to make him or herself relevant. In the absence of that, anything that will make him or her engaged may be the only option.
Therefore we cannot continuously talk about the peace and security of the world without first of all looking at things that are luckily triggers of violence. As they say, the devil finds work for the idle hand.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that as of 2015, there were 201 million people who were out of work, and by 2019, this will be more than 212 million people. In 2014, it estimated that about 202 million people were unemployed and underemployed. It also estimated that by 2018, the figure is luckily to hit 215 million people. Almost 74 million young people, aged 15-24, were looking for work in 2014 and the youth unemployment rate ‘’is practically three times higher’’ than for their adult counterparts, the ILO found.
It therefore warns that if low wages lead people to consume less, and investment remains subdued, growth rates will suffer. The ILO also warns of rising social unrest as rising inequality undermines trust in government and young people are left frustrated as pay trends fail to match general improvement in educational attainment.
The close interrelationship between social justice, sustainable development, human rights and peace as present in the daily life of the world’s youth cannot be overlooked. High levels of unemployment, social exclusion and growing discontent among the youth of the world are not only acute problems of social development, but may also trigger severe regional and global unrest. It is therefore of great importance that young people are integrated into decision making processes at national, regional and international levels.
It is worth noting that if no hope of a better future is within sight, facilitating sustainable and peaceful social change becomes nearly impossible. Consequently, empowering young people is not simply a matter of equality or justice, but one of global peace and security.
Youth participation in decision making at all levels is the key in achieving peaceful resolutions of difficult situations. Youth-led organizations play significant role in the process of global social change and serve as a major link between youth around the globe. There is therefore the need to secure youth participation in associations and voluntary movements. It is only through this that we can genuinely incorporate youth in peace-building efforts and processes which aim at balancing and easing the quality of life for many.
Peace and human rights are global values which unite young people around the world. It is however important to stress that justice and equality between generations is the first step in acknowledging the role of the youth as a specific, vulnerable group in peaceful processes and all peace building efforts or initiatives.
It is important to reiterate that youth are agents of development, social inclusion, tolerance and peace building. It is equally important to recognize the fact that restrictive conditions to youth involvement in mainstream decision making processes such as deliberate political and social relegation and an overall lack of capacity restrain youth from participating meaningfully in issues of peace and security. Limited social, economic and political opportunities are strong contributing factors that are luckily to drive the youth to become involved in conflicts.
It is therefore important to look at unemployment, underemployment and all forms of exclusion as national, regional and internationally threats to peace and security and collectively put our minds together in order to work towards overcoming them or minimizing their negative effects especially among young people.
In conclusion, it is important to recognize that there is a link between youth unemployment, underemployment and conflict, hence the urgency to address them and as well see youth participation in issues of peace and security as globally cross-cutting especially relevant in conflict and post conflict situations around the world. Initiatives that seek to address the challenges of youth must not just remain on paper. The need to harmonize youth initiatives, nationally, regionally and globally by various stakeholders in order to track the progress of work is eminent. There is also therefore the need for a national, regional and international agreement which must help shift from distraction to interaction, from passive partnership to active and participatory partnership, from seeing youth as sources of conflict to seeing them as resources for peace and development, and ultimately, from asking them to wait to asking them to lead the way.

Authored By:
Prosper Dzitse
Ghana's Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth
Former NUGS President

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