Young people praise impact of Commonwealth virtual summit on countering violent extremism

17 August 2021

The positive effects of a Secretariat-organised summit aimed at Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is being felt across the Commonwealth.

The positive effects of a Secretariat-organised summit aimed at Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is being felt across the Commonwealth.

Equipping young people with skills and knowledge

More than 100 young people from Commonwealth member countries attended an online training event, organised by the CVE Unit, and came away equipped with skills and knowledge to build peace in their communities.

The webinar, entitled The Power of Youth to Build Peace in the Commonwealth, engaged Commonwealth youth in wide-reaching discussions about Preventing/CVE, peacebuilding, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting theme 5 (rule of law and youth leadership in decision-making) and gave young people a platform to share ideas and ask questions of experts in the field.

Valuable partners

Amy Longland, Programme Officer at Commonwealth Secretariat CVE Unit, said: “This summit is particularly important as it equips young people and leaders with the skills to participate in decision-making, and how to get involved and be seen as valuable partners in solving the global issues which affect them.

"The feedback we've received has been very encouraging and we hope participants will be able to take what they learned and apply it to the real world, to make a lasting impact. And, in fact, we already see this happening." 

Positive feedback from participants

At the end of the summit, participants were asked to complete a self-evaluation form; they found the summit useful and relevant to their work.

One participant said: “I was surprised by the plethora of approaches that I was unfamiliar with - for example empowering tribal leaders in a peace process, owing to their diverse backgrounds. 

"This diversity of approaches will motivate me to look for voices from different places for my own research and action.” 

Another wrote: “Through this workshop I have now realised that it is important for youth to play a role in nation building.

"The workshop permitted us to enhance the peacebuilding knowledge of women. Furthermore, we built trust between youth and the government because youth mobilisation in peacebuilding efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.”

A panel of five experts in youth peacebuilding also produced insightful, varied and cutting-edge policy papers which provided the basis for discussion during the event. All these papers have been published online and are an accessible resource provided for free by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The panel's work also features in a five-episode observational podcast as they discuss and formulate their papers and contribute their ideas to peacebuilding efforts across the Commonwealth.

CommonView podcast 

The podcast, CommonView can be listened to below:

  • Episode 1: Mansi Panjwani discusses how young people can be “humanistic leaders” and “transform society in an interconnected manner” in a world where it often feels like their voices aren’t being heard through traditional methods. She explored her paper’s assertion that youth can create effective strategies to address and counter-violence in a humanistic manner.
  • Episode 2: Kosta Lucas talks about his paper, which centred youth in responses to violent extremism, and explored how young people can be front and centre of approaches to prevent terrorists’ use of the internet and promote counter-narratives. In his podcast, he discusses how young people can make their voices heard concerning Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected assumptions about youth agency in P/CVE.
  • Episode 3: Christine Odera converses on her paper, which focused on leveraging youth Agency in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Region (IGAD) and how young people can create more partnerships and recognise their own actions and potential to advance the peace and security agenda in the IGAD and the Commonwealth. 
  • Episode 4: Achaleke Christian Leke highlights the innovative initiatives young people in Cameroon are leading to ensure that education is protected, and discusses his paper, which explores how education can be used as a tool to build peace in Cameroon and how COVID-19 has affected the ability of young people to provide alternative solutions for educating those who have been prevented from going to school.
  • Episode 5: Kurba-Marie Questelles speaks on the key theme of her paper: harnessing the power of communities and empowering youth to prevent violent extremism in the Caribbean, and she looks at how young people can take the initiative in the development of grassroots approaches to P/CVE.

Learn more about the Secretariat's Countering Violent Extremism Unit