The specificity of a Youth Peace Camp is the possibility it creates for young people from conflict affected regions to better understand conflicts and start a process of conflict transformation. The camp provides a safe space for young people from opposing sides coming from different conflict stricken regions to learn together, to share their experiences with conflicts and to build their capacity to engage and/or develop future conflict transformation projects and initiatives. During the one week camp, the participants follow an experiential learning process and acquired competences in the fields of intercultural learning, dialogue and conflict transformation within a human rights framework.
The Youth Peace Camps builds on the understanding that young people growing up in regions affected by armed conflicts, enduring the consequences of extreme forms of physical and structural violence, are often confronted with dramatic life forming experiences, emotions and challenges. Such experiences may strongly influence their views and behaviour towards their own and other communities. Many young people, despite these circumstances, choose however to engage in constructive initiatives and dialogue instead of becoming themselves the multipliers of hatred and rejection which fuel prejudice and the conflict. When supported and recognised in their role, these young people may become peer leaders and educators and, in turn, sensitise and involve other young people in dialogue, mediation, intercultural communication, conflict transformation and peace work projects.
The methodological approach
A Youth Peace Camp provides a safe space for participants to have a positive experience of living together where sharing of personal experiences and points of view is possible. Positive does not always mean easy. The purpose is not to provide an enjoyable and conflict-free atmosphere, but to enable participants to learn to unlearn prejudice; this process may be painful for some participants.
The programme enables mutual learning among participants, making use of a variety of non-formal working methods. Personal reflections and sharing within national/ethnical groups is alternated with sharing, learning and reflecting between youth from the different conflict regions. By the end of the camp, participants are encouraged to develop initiatives as peer leaders and multipliers with other young people in the field of dialogue and conflict transformation
Throughout the camp a human rights based approach is respected. Participants learn about the concepts of human rights and human dignity which forms the basis for a process of dialogue based on empathy and respect. These values apply also to the way the camp is managed and the programme is run; the camp should be an example of conflict transformation.