WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Congressman Dean Phillips (MN-03), Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17), Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), and Congresswoman María Salazar (FL-27) introduced the Youth, Peace, and Security Act. Senator Cory Booker (NJ) plans to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
The bipartisan, bicameral legislation emphasizes the importance of youth leadership and involvement in worldwide peacebuilding and conflict prevention activities.
The bill would also require the USAID Youth Coordinator to facilitate and oversee cross-sectoral international development efforts related to youth across the interagency, including exchanges between USAID and a diverse range of youth leaders, youth-led organizations, and youth-serving organizations advancing youth, peace, and security. The coordinator would also be required to submit a plan to Congress on steps to accomplish those goals to ensure the meaningful participation of youth in conflict prevention, management, resolution, and post-conflict activities.
“The voices of our youth bring important value to the discussion table and offer unique perspectives that greatly benefit decision making conversations,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Youth, Peace, and Security Act. Our bill will establish a framework at USAID to ensure that the voices of young people from every walk of life are included in conflict resolution, reconciliation, and security resilience efforts.”
"For too long, young people have had their voices ignored and their ideas overlooked,” said Congressman Phillips. "With this bill, we are working to ensure that youth leaders have a seat at the table to help resolve conflicts that affect them and their communities. The Youth Coordinator position represents an investment in the leaders of tomorrow, as they continue to participate in peacebuilding today."
“Meaningful youth engagement in peace building will no doubt have a profound impact on U.S. international development policy. It is critical for the State Department and USAID to ensure youth programming is effective, and these individuals must have a seat at the table for that to happen,” said Congressman Lawler. “To that end, I am proud to join colleagues in both parties in introducing the bipartisan Youth, Peace, and Security Act.”
“Including young people in peacebuilding and conflict resolution is critical to promoting a more stable, prosperous world. These efforts will benefit the African continent in particular, which is the youngest region in the world with a median age of 18,” said Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove. “By providing support and opportunities for the leaders of tomorrow to have a role in guiding outcomes today, we will promote positive development for generations to come. I am proud to lead this bipartisan bill to advance coordination for cross-sectoral international development efforts that engage youth in peace and security efforts.”
“The Youth, Peace, and Security Act is a powerful piece of foreign policy legislation that puts youth at the center of peacebuilding and conflict prevent efforts,” said Congresswoman Meng. “For too long, the collective voices of our young people have been ignored. This bill helps ensure them a seat at the table moving forward. I am proud to work on such an important bill with several champions of global peacebuilding, and look forward to leading this bill through the House."
“Engaging with the next generation is necessary to make the world a better place,” said Congresswoman Salazar. “Latin America has one of the youngest and most dynamic populations around the world. We must be ready to deal with the problems facing young people in the Western Hemisphere if we are going to shepherd a promising future for the region."
“Young people are our best hope for a more peaceful, stable world,” said Senator Booker. “Far too often, young people are disproportionately affected by conflict and violence, yet not included in peacebuilding processes. This legislation would ensure that youth leaders are active participants in conflict prevention, resolution, and recovery efforts, giving them a seat at the table to build a more sustainable, peaceful future for their communities.”
“One of the clearest, most consistent insights we have drawn across the 50+ countries in which we have worked to prevent violence and build durable peace is that young people hold tremendous power and potential to contribute to the cause,” said Search for Common Ground's CEO Shamil Idriss. “More often than not, that potential is under-appreciated, under-resourced and thus largely untapped. The bi-partisan reintroduction of the Youth, Peace & Security Act represents an important step in taking our young people seriously and raises the hope that we will invite their ideas and support their contribution to shaping the safer, healthier, more just future that they want to inherit.”
"The Alliance for Peacebuilding is proud to support the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) Act. For too long, youth bulges in conflict-affected and fragile states have been feared, but decades of research proves that youth are critical agents of peace. At a time of record-breaking global violent conflict and fragility, this bill is a much-needed expansion of the prevention-oriented canon of law, including the Global Fragility Act, Women, Peace, and Security Act, and Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act that Congress has rightfully codified in recent years," said Liz Hume, Executive Director at the Alliance for Peacebuilding. "The YPS Act is another vital tool to promote U.S. foreign policy and assistance reform so that we can both respond to emergency crises and, at the same time, prioritize preventing and reducing violent conflict and fragility. We hope the YPS Act is a catalyst to integrate youth in U.S. efforts to build sustainable peace globally."
"Youth leaders remind us of the power of the present to transform the future. Many are courageously at the forefront of violence interruption and are also some of the loudest voices for shifting power and resources for equity and justice to prevail," said Peace Direct's US Executive Director, Elana Aquino. "The bipartisan re-introduction of the YPS Act affirms the importance of young people around the world to make a positive change and increases resources for support of their critical role in building peace."
USAID is an independent agency of the U.S. government that provides development assistance to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen governance, and help partner countries on their journey to self-reliance.
The bill would also expand microgrants to youth leaders and create a Youth, Peace, and Security fund to provide grants, emergency assistance, and technical assistant to youth-led civil society organizations.