Next Tuesday December 8th at 14.00 CET (Oslo time) we will have the PRIO Annual Peace Address, this time with young peacebuilders Hajer Sharief and Ilwad Elman.

On this occasion we wanted to highlight projects and research that focus on youth activism. We're sharing our work on young engagement in political change, because social movements that turn into positive societal transformation are not only initiated by people in power, but very often are initiated or inspired by youth trying to improve their communities. Here are some of the projects showing the importance of youth in peacebuilding.


In the TRANSFORM project in collaboration with PositiveNegatives:

We follow Myanmar land-rights activist, Daw Bawk Ja Lum Nyoi – one of many who inspire and impact societal transformation in conflict contexts. As a child, Daw Bawk Ja had to flee from war and grew up in poverty and hardship. Realizing the injustice around her, she took on the big military-aligned companies and high-ranking generals exploiting the community, and she started educating farmers in her community about their rights. Her story illustrates how the heroic deeds of individuals contribute directly in creating positive changes for their communities.

In Syria a woman dedicates herself to schooling children under war. The Syrian Civil War has had a devastating effect on primary education. One in three schools have been damaged or destroyed and a total of 2.1 million children are estimated to be out of school. Deprived of access to state education, Syrians both at home and in the neighbouring countries have relied on international assistance and community schools. Civil society actors have mobilized to help their vulnerable compatriots.

Through a comic, get to know the story of Uffo, a group of young professionals in Hargeisa, who mobilised to address serious negligence in the social sector in what was then Somalia in the 1980's, by restoring a hospital. This was both a humanitarian activity responding to the acute suffering of patients, and a way of resisting the oppressive policies of the regime. When the professionals were arrested a few months later, it was the spark that ignited and inspired others, especially youth and women, to protest the regime openly.

The GENSOM project, on Gender in Politics in Somalia: Access and Influence in a Post-Conflict State, investigates the impact women have upon gaining access to government positions in Somalia. This project explores the representation female population can get from the women in politics and what is the linkage with civil movements.


Bilal Barakat, Julia Paulson and Henrik Urdal write about The Youth, Transition, and Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, where they explain that under favourable structural conditions, large youth cohorts may represent a significant labour force reserve that can be a blessing rather than a curse, additionally, they find that in countries with substantially declining fertility, the statistical conflict risk associated with youth bulges is drastically reduced.

Halvard Buhaug and Nina Von Uexkull served as members of the scientific advisory committee for Climate Impacts on Youth, Peace and Security. The report tells the ways in which climate change uniquely impacts the security and development prospects of youth populations and how that has impacts on other phenomena like forced migration, conflict and security challenges and how to help solving those challenges.

Henrik Buljo Anstorp's master's thesis Students Taking to the Streets: Mobilizing for a Secular Lebanon explores the importance of the mobilization of political youth movements for the transition towards democratic change in developing countries.

Anstorp also writes Studenter og fagforeninger: et håp for politisk endring i Libanon?, an article about youth agency in Lebanon and impact political change towards democracy.

Students in the streets: Education and nonviolent protest is a publication by Sirianne Dahlum where she investigates why protest movements consisting of students and educated protesters are more likely to use nonviolent resistance strategies and are more likely to achieve their goals.

Wenche Iren Hauge writes A Neglected Agency: Female and Male Minors in DDR Processes where she explains the widespread participation of children and adolescents in armed conflicts. Through a case study of Colombia, Wenche examines serious problems with the recommendations in the UN Operational Guide to the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) for minors coming out of armed conflict. However, neither context nor gender dimensions are sufficiently taken into account in the guide.

In Refugees, Peacebuilding, and the Anthropology of the Good, Cindy Horst explores the important role played by refugees in resolution processes and how refugees' political subjectivities led them to be strongly inspired by a vision of society based on justice and equality.

Cindy Horst's article Making a difference in Mogadishu? Experiences of multi-sited embeddedness among diaspora youth, gives an insight to the motivation of Somali diaspora -that left as young children or were born to Somali parents in exile- to return. Horst explores how young people's civic engagement impact feelings of belonging as much as their sense of belonging influences their civic actions.

Miracles in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt and Refugees as 'Vanguard' by Cindy Horst and Odin Lysaker tells refugees' different type of engagement in civil and political issues and how their background transforms motivation and sense of responsibility.

Jacob Høigilt's paper Failing Against the Odds: Palestinian youth activism in the West Bank analyses how youth Palestinian activists deal with political opportunity structures, movement framing and social networks.

Bintu Zahara Sakor and Henrik Urdal wrote on Youth, Peace and Security Challenges In The Sahel, a report that focuses on the relationship between demographic characteristics such as youthful age structure and violent conflict. Research in the field suggest a correlation between large youthful age cohorts and risk of political violence.

Trude Stapnes, Erik Carlquist and Cindy Horst write Responsibility to Protest: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Motives for Protest Participation in Myanmar, where they explore reasons of individuals in Myanmar to protest in an environment of violent suppression and terrible consequences.

Marta Bivand Erdal and Mette Strømso write Children's rights, participatory research and the co-construction of national belonging, a study among youth in Norway that contributes to the debate on human rights education in diverse societies, finding that it is in the interaction between pupils and their teachers that the production and re-production of the nation occurs.

In What is Youth Violence in Jonglei?, Øystein H. Rolandsen and Ingrid Marie Breidlid explain that violence in Jonglei (South Sudan) is linked to the prevailing security vacuum in rural areas and participation of "youth" in violence is a consequence of the political economy of civil war and large-scale violence, but also their social role and responsibilities as protectors of the community, finding that youth in Jonglei will continue to arm themselves if the state cannot adequately provide security and rule of law.

Henrik Urdal composes A Clash of Generations? Youth Bulges and Political Violence, whose study suggest different scenarios in which youth bulges can have a significant positive impact, instead of increasing the risk of internal conflicts.

Blog posts

Ebba Tellander shares this inspirational story of how a comic can help to tell the Uffo Struggle for Justice in Somaliland. The comic is based on research on youth collective action and students in protest.

Cindy Horst writes Somalia's Hope for the Future? The Return of Young Diaspora Somalis, where she explores the desire of Somali diaspora to contribute to transformations in Somalia's political and social structures to reshape their own future.

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