By Heidi Green for The Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation

Can creating formal youth policies actually make a difference for a country in regards to reducing conflict? Through analyzing the 2014 Global Peace Index’s report ranking of countries from most peaceful to least peaceful, and comparing it with the State of YouthPolicies 2014 Report, there is a clear correlation. In the top ten most peaceful countries, eight out of ten have complete, full-version youth policies in place. In the ten least peaceful countries in the world, though some have a draft policy, zero out of ten have implemented youth policies.

Youth are the main population targeted for violent or extremist groups. They are impressionable and easier to recruit, especially in low-income areas where they have no access to education, jobs, recreational, or other activities. Academic researchers who interviewed incarcerated terrorists observed that, “…it was clear that the major influence

[of the growth of terrorist groups] was the social environment of the youth” (Post et al 2003, pg 173). They found that over half of those they interviewed attributed their involvement in terror beginning with recruitment by a community youth club (Post et al 2003, pg. 173). One interviewee explained that his reason for engaging in group violence was to enhance social status. As he stated, “I got a lot of respect from my acquaintances and from the young people in the village” (Post et al 2003, p. 182).

To counteract groups of violence and terrorism who target youth, our communities and governments must be actively engaged in running programmes for peace that also target youth and develop youth into leaders. This begins with establishing a formal youth policy and ensuring that it is implemented. We cannot afford to be somewhat active. We cannot even be equally active. We must be significantly more active than groups that lead youth to engaging in conflict. As Edmund Burke has warned, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Read the rest of the article here.