Impact Story
Realizing the Youth Peace
and Security Agenda

Daniel Sandoval,
Associate Public Information Officer,
United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia

The “Realizing the Youth Peace and Security Agenda” course at the Staff College is the perfect solution for busy professionals looking to further their career in international affairs. The course was carefully crafted to provide working professionals with a strong theoretical grounding in this subject. The course definitely challenged me philosophically and professionally. The course content was interesting, meaningful and has clear applicability to my work in Colombia or to the everyday work of mid-level UN staff. I have three takeaways from the programme:

First, I learned about enabling meaningful youth participation in projects and initiatives: I learned that actively enabling a group of diverse young women and men is an important first step to ensure that participatory processes are inclusive.

Second, I learned about including youth-sensitive perspectives. In peace and security analysis we often treat youth as a collective with similar characteristics. It’s necessary to desegregate and expand the information because young women and men represent a diverse group of individuals with different backgrounds, opinions and needs.

Third, I learned to differentiate between forms of youth participation.

I implement these processes in my daily work, and on the “Approach to future youth political leadership in southeast of Colombia” project that I have been working on.

The project’s goal is to create dialogue and knowledge-sharing spaces for 7 to 10 young people representing a cross-section of Colombia’s political spectrum. The conversations are meant to empower the members to share their newly acquired insights with members of their political parties and with some schools and universities in the region. Some of the young people who participate belong to political parties that emerged victorious after the peace agreement in the country (with the former FARC-EP guerillas). They also include young people from traditional political parties and alternative social organizations. I have used this project as an opportunity to implement my Staff College learning and ensure that we have truly inclusive youth processes. I use what I learned for analysis techniques and this has helped me understand the backgrounds of youth actors. This is important as it helps us determine how different factors can affect their willingness or ability to work in certain contexts.

Based on my learning, I am also paying special attention to the nuances that exist in this region. This informs how we communicate on social media. Wherever work takes me I also try to advance the concept of “promoting action without harm.”

Perhaps most importantly the Staff College taught me not to get stuck in a loop of working with the same group of young people for every event and process. I am continually adjusting this project to include new voices and expand participation of youth from different political parties, civil society organizations and communities.