Young peace-builders to take part in workshops empowering them to act as role models in resisting extremist narratives.
The world today, knitting ever closer with the threads of globalisation, is increasingly threatened by radicalisation and violent extremism. Along with the interconnections of such a globalised world comes the growing need to uphold peace and security, by addressing the importance of fostering good values, attitudes and communication skills, especially among the young future leaders of society.
The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, is set to host ‘Youth for Diversity and Inclusion’, two workshops for young peace-builders and government officials in the country.
Sixty youth participants from across Sri Lanka, and ten government officials, will take part in two five-day workshops, held from the 26-29 July and 2-5 August. Each is designed to help young people act as catalysts of youth-led action and to stand at the forefront of advocacy against violent extremism.
The participants will return to their local communities to deliver social projects with community members to help bridge the gap from network to person, a process that aims to continue to grow and aid participants as a support resource even after the workshop concludes.
Commenting on the timeliness of such initiatives, Mark Albon, Head of the CVE Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said:
“The Faith in the Commonwealth programme aims to nurture and improve relationships across different communities, cultures, faiths and non-faiths. These workshops, delivered in partnership with UNDP Sri Lanka, will bring together government interlocutors, policymakers, young peacebuilders and other stakeholders. Thus fostering connections between decision-makers and young people, building trust, networks and collaboration, whilst bolstering the capacity of both to prevent and counter violent extremism.”
Understanding world views
The workshop, developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, will be delivered by the CVE Unit Programme Officer, Amy Longland, and Expert Facilitator, Daniel Smith and supported by facilitators from UNDP. ‘Youth for Diversity and Inclusion’ is an initiative delivered under the Faith in the Commonwealth Programme, and is backed by the HackaDev Academy of Learning and Skills, a UNDPs youth skills-building platform.
The training programme will combat extremist beliefs and prevent them from taking root in the minds of young people by supporting and teaching groups to respect, tolerate and understand the dynamics behind others’ beliefs and world views. The programme advocates for progressive, empowered, and educated young people as a key to combatting the spread of extremism, made easier by technology and interconnectedness brought about by a fast-paced 21st Century world.
The project was born out of a need to improve general understanding and respect for diversity, alongside the promotion of social cohesion among youth in Sri Lanka. The programme will also seek to foster feelings of global citizenship and increase awareness of the tools and skills available to build cohesive communities that can work to counter violent extremism. Youth must also be empowered to become agents of change in rejecting such extremist narratives in Sri Lanka and beyond.
Speaking about UNDP’s expertise and role in promoting and advocating for greater social cohesion, especially among young people, Malin Herwig, Officer-in-Charge, UNDP in Sri Lanka, said:
“Seeing how rapidly society changes in the race to keep up with trends and transformations, we very easily forget the deep impact brought about by violent extremism and what damage it could potentially inflict on individuals or groups. Working together with partners such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, through UNDP’s efforts, we aim to fill young minds with the knowledge and skillset needed to counter related challenges and, at the same time, help shape the thoughts of future leaders in Sri Lanka.”
Young people already possess the potential to build respect and understanding among their communities that could pave the way for change on a global scale. Through this programme, UNDP together with the Commonwealth Secretariat, hope to enhance knowledge, refine skills and foster a sense of global citizenship, capable of addressing challenges of contemporary life with a stronger understanding and respect for religious and cultural diversity amongst youth in countries of the Commonwealth.
Young peacebuilders from Sri Lanka are encouraged to apply online.
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat