The study session “Peace Advocacy” took place at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg from 19-24 October. It was prepared and held in cooperation with the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (YPAN) with an aim to empower young people to take an active role in peace-building by equipping them with competences in advocacy and conflict transformation. The activity gathered 24 peace activists, speakers and resource persons who worked on improving their advocacy and educational activities on peace-building and conflict transformation. The participants were introduced with the Youth for Democracy programme and explore more in depth the activities aiming towards building inclusive and peaceful societies. They devised advocacy proposals aiming to address several issues in their communities today, such as:
- Addressing hate speech and disinformation in media through more systemic work on media literacy
- Encouraging the formal education system, as well as youth work, to promote and develop empathy and work on emotional development with the students and young people in general
- To counter sexism and gender inequality, especially in this period where access to rights for women is under attack in many member states
- To promote further youth participation in peace-building by supporting young peacebuilders based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2250.
The role of youth at the Council of Europe and the possibilities to raise youth voice in the various decision-making processes were discussed with Jorge Aguado Sancez, member of the Advisory Council on Youth. The participants also understood better the role of the Council of Europe in confidence building at the areas affected by armed conflicts.
The group concluded that there is a need to continue actively working on peace-building and conflict transformation and as a result there are 6 advocacy projects which they will kick-off in the near future. The possibility to meet at the European youth centre was also seen as very exceptional and important, noting that “the pandemic has not stopped the wars, so we must make sure it does not stop the peace-building work”