The Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) brings together young people from across the Commonwealth to upscale and optimise grassroots, national, regional and Pan-Commonwealth efforts to promote peace, respect & understanding and preventing violent extremism. These young people range from community-level and policy-level peace advocates and includes young people who use alternative methods to peace-building from filmmakers to artists to sportspeople.
Vision: To strengthen and optimise grassroots, national, regional and pan-Commonwealth youth participation in promoting sustainable peace and the fight against violent extremism.
Mission: To connect, build capacity and provide support of youth activists from across the Commonwealth and beyond; including artists, tech entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, youth workers, filmmakers, cartoonists, students and innovators to promote peace and fight against violent extremism.
The role of civil society, including the voice of the youth, is essential in creating greater cohesion across the Commonwealth and countering the appeal of violent extremism. Youth initiatives, women’s groups, creative professionals, technology experts, and grassroots activists all have significant parts to play in this effort.
As young people, our leadership and contribution in preventing and resolving conflict, violence and extremism is critical to achieving sustainable peace. We are valuable innovators and agents of change and our contribution should be regarded as essential in the building of peaceful communities and supporting democratic governance and transition. Engaging us and encouraging each other in the fight for peace and against violent extremism of all forms is of the utmost importance.
Objectives: To connect young people in the Commonwealth who engage in peacebuilding, promoting respect & understanding as well as in preventing and countering violent extremism to deepen inter-/cross-cultural understanding
- To provide a platform for young peacebuilders that will promote and sustain their work in partnership with stakeholders, funding institutions, governments and others
- To support the implementation of local, national, regional and international policies and programmes which address the participation of young people in peacebuilding and preventing and countering violent extremism.
- To influence policies at the international, regional and national levels that will promotes youth inclusion and participation in peacebuilding
- To showcase and support the contribution of young people in promoting sustainable peace and preventing and countering violent extremism
- To inspire and motivate other young people to get involved in peacebuilding efforts towards creating peaceful societies across the Commonwealth
- To facilitate capacity and skills building, sharing of ideas and good practice as well as mentoring opportunities for young people across the region.
- To provide technical and advisory support to Commonwealth Secretariat on youth and peacebuilding
- Create informed cohort of articulate young peacebuilders to lead advocacy efforts
History of CYPAN support from Commonwealth
In 2007, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen undertook an important piece of work for the Commonwealth, focused on peace building through respect and understanding (Civil Paths to Peace). The Commonwealth Youth Division took this model forward in the youth space, as an overarching theme for work that progresses key stakeholders’ mind-sets and capacity in human rights, inter-generational cooperation, and equitable inclusion of marginalised groups including women, indigenous and LGBT populations.
Before and since this guiding piece of work was published, the Commonwealth, through various divisions, has committed to both youth-focused and policy-level partnerships and intervention to sustain peace across its member states.
Consultations on the creation of a Commonwealth youth-led initiative on peace-building commenced following the Nkabom project which brought young peace-builders together in 2008. Dialogue was amplified in the lead up to the Amman Declaration in Jordan.
The most recent consultations, held in November 2015 during the Commonwealth Youth Forum and after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, saw almost 100 youth leaders from across the Commonwealth finally committing to the expansion of youth-led peace efforts across the various regions. The Commonwealth YouthCAN project was also launched at this event.
The network was established with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat and grew out of a partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Commonwealth supports other thematic youth-led networks in various areas including education, health, human rights, and climate change.
By way of understanding peace-building, CYPAN endorses the definition of peace-building as,
“actions taken to prevent violent conflict from erupting, and efforts taken to end violent conflict and subsequently transform relationships, interactions, and structures after the violence subsidises. Peace- Building can be undertaken on many ‘tracks’ and in many sectors, whether development agencies, community-based organizations, the media, business or political leaders. The goal is to create, support, or enhance healthy and sustainable interactions, relationships and structures that are tolerant, respectful, and constructively respond to the root causes and symptoms of conflict over the long-term – in other words, to create and support a just peace. As such Peace – Building can be a separate area of activity as well as an approach to activities which is integrated into more traditional sector-based development programming”.
CYPAN bears in mind that young people between the ages of 15-29 constitute the majority with a population of over 1.2 billion in the Commonwealth. As such we build upon the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250, on youth peace and Security which highlights participation, protection, prevention, partnership, disengagement and reintegration as major thematic towards promoting youth participation in peace as security.
The CYPAN team is aware that the most recent rise in conflicts, violence and extremism within Commonwealth countries and beyond, where we, young people have been framed as agent of violence despite our outstanding civil contributions toward promoting sustainable peace. However, we appreciate and acknowledge that the Commonwealth Civil Path to Peace clearly recommends and acknowledge the role of young people in promoting peace. Hence we recall at all times that the CYPAN is a voluntary network of independent and equal sovereign youth led organisations, co-operating in the common interests of promoting youth participation in peace-building and fight against violent extremism.
And we seek to reaffirm at all times the importance of the Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peace-building in creating a foundation that ensures young people’s participation and contribution to building peace, including in conflict and post-conflict contexts is accorded with higher priority.