Principles, standards and strategies for meaningful youth engagement

Various principles, checklists and minimum requirements for the meaningful engagement of a diversity of young people have been developed and are laid out in the following programmatic guidance to inform youth sensitive programming to sustain peace during electoral processes



As described in the United Nations Security Council mandated independent progress study on youth, peace and security, building and sustaining peace through supporting the role of youth as critical agents of change demands reorientation from governments and the multilateral system. In this regard, the three mutually reinforcing strategies are:

  • Investing in young people’s capacities, agency and leadership and facilitating an enabling environment for youth organizations and initiatives;
  • Including young people by addressing structural barriers through transformation of the systems that reinforce exclusion and limit participation;
  • Partnering with young people and fostering collaborative action, where young people are viewed as equal and essential partners for peace.


Guiding principles for young people’s participation in peacebuilding - UN IANYD

The guiding principles for young people’s participation in peacebuilding set forward through the Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding of the UN Interagency Network for Youth Development (UN IANYD) are:

  1. Promote young people’s participation as an essential condition for successful peacebuilding;
  2. Value and build upon young people’s diversity and experiences;
  3. Be sensitive to gender dynamics;
  4. Enable young people’s ownership, leadership and accountability in peacebuilding;
  5. Do no harm;
  6. Involve young people in all stages of peacebuilding and post-conflict programming;
  7. Enhance the knowledge, attitudes, skills and competencies of young people for peacebuilding;
  8. Invest in inter-generational partnerships in young people’s communities;
  9. Introduce and support policies that address the full needs of young people.


Checklist on meaningful youth engagement - United Network of Young Peacebuilds (UNOY)

The checklist on meaningful youth engagement by the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) highlights that inclusivity, preparation, protection and follow-up are crucial ingredients for meaningf youth participation and require appropriate time and resources that should not be borne by the youth themselves. The objectives are to:

  • Ensure selection of youth speakers is more transparent and inclusive, and speaking opportunities are accessible to all young peacebuilders.
  • Create an enabling environment for young participants so that everyone can make the most of the opportunities available.
  • Remove technical and financial barriers that stand in the way of youth participation.
  • Shift responsibility for protection from the participating young people to event/programme organizers and institutional actors.
  • Ensure opportunities that engage young people are sustainable and impactful for them and their communities.


Principles and Barriers on meaningful youth engagement - Major Group for Children and Youth

The principles on meaningful youth engagement by the Major Group for Children and Youth include engagement that is: self-organized, legally mandated/rights-based, designated, well-resourced and accountable.

The UNDP good practice guide on youth political participation outlines principles for activities supporting effective and meaningful youth political participation. These activities should be:

  • Transparent: Youth should be informed about the purpose, scope and procedures of the process they are participating in. The potential impact of the exercise should be clear from the beginning.
  • Respectful and rights-based: Youth should be approached as active agents who have the rights to participate and be heard.
  • Accountable: So that participation is not a one-off event, mechanisms need to be in place to ensure follow-up, implementation of youth decisions and accountability to youth constituencies.
  • Youth-friendly and relevant: Activities to enhance youth political participation should be as youth-driven as possible. Young people themselves can decide on their priorities, methods and tactics. The environment and working methods can be adapted to participants’ capacities and needs. Depending on the target age group and context, activities might focus on, among other options: informal, results-oriented projects; low access barriers; easy language; being issue-driven; being competitive with a game element; or technology if educated youth are targeted.
  • Inclusive: Appropriate methods can be applied to give marginalized groups of youth equal chances to participate, such as young women, ethnic minorities, illiterate youth, rural dwellers and youth with special needs.
  • Voluntary and safe: Capacity development can be an integral part of any strategy for meaningful participation. The UNDP approach to capacity development “reflects the viewpoint that capacity resides within individuals, as well as at the level of organizations and within the enabling environment.”


Minimum requirements for youth, peace and security programming - United Nations and Folke Bernadotte Academy

The ‘Youth, Peace and Security Programming Handbook’ sets out minimum requirements for youth, peace and security programming:

  1. Young people should at least be consulted throughout the programme cycle.
  2. The outcome statements are clear about the kind of change the programme seeks with respect to a conflict and/or security factor. The outcome statements should be related to one or several of the five youth, peace and security (YPS) pillars.
  3. YPS programmes should be based on a youth- and gender-sensitive conflict analysis and should clearly seek to address a specific conflict and/or security situation that is relevant to youth.
  4. A YPS theory of change should explain how the proposed actions are meant to positively affect a conflict and/or security situation while contributing to improving the experience of young people.
  5. Project indicators must be at least age and sex disaggregated.
  6. Evaluations must assess the degree to which the initiative has fostered peace and contributed to youth’s improved situation and meaningful participation.












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