Youth Summit

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Context

Engaging young people and allowing them to discover their strength as active contributors and prime-stakeholders of sustainable peace and development has really become a timely need in Sri Lanka. It is a collective responsibility of all concerned parties to make sure that the young people do not feel ‘left behind’ in the Transitional Justice (TJ) and Sustainable Development (SD) agenda. The potential of youth to provide leadership and creative-innovative solutions for peaceful and pluralistic society is often overlooked at various levels, and hence, the need for youth inclusion and engagement is widely recognized.

Looking at the global context, UNSCR (2250) provides wider recognition for youth as a key stakeholder in peacebuilding and in eliminating violence. The National Youth Policy (2014) in Sri Lanka aims to develop the full potential of young people to enable their active participation in national development for a just and equitable society. The policy also acknowledges the necessity to offer them space for civic engagement and develop their capacity to use art, culture, and sports as a way of strengthening reconciliation. Both the government and other organizations including United Nations are making some efforts, to push youth as potential allies to be part of the Sustainable Development (SD) agenda too.

Approximately 26% of the Sri Lankan population is comprised of youth. National Human Development Report (2014) published by the UNDP revealed that 54.1% of Sri Lankan youth do not have a close friend who belongs to a different religious or ethnic group other than their own.

However, most of the youth engagement activities have not become a part of one comprehensive ‘Youth, Peace and Development Agenda’. There have been various challenges for the youth to use opportunities available for them and enhance their strengths to become active change makers. Youth are often positioned as the ‘Recipients’ and not necessarily as ‘Active Contributors’.
In this respect, SDJF organized its first youth summit under the theme of “Capturing local voices and strengthening democracy” in 2015. In this summit, Hundreds of young video activists produced their stories featuring rights-based issues affecting women, local migrants, children and civil societies in the context of governance, peace, and reconciliation.  At the first summit, nearly 250 young video activists have attended, and the ten most successful young video activists were awarded.

Objectives of NYS 2018
The National Youth Summit (NYS) 2018 is organized to provide a platform for a national dialogue, in order to reflect on the role of the youth in achieving sustainable peace and development in Sri Lanka. At the same time, NYS 2018 will allow young people from various parts of Sri Lanka to come together, share their stories and challenges, learn from each other, be part of a wider network, demonstrate their shared missions, showcase innovative and creative solutions towards sustainable peace and development.

Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) intends to organize the second NYS 2018, under its ‘Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program’; a youth-led peace-building initiative, implemented jointly with the Ministry of National Co-Existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, University of Jaffna, University of Visual and Performing Arts, Ministries of Education of Northern, North Central, Eastern, Central, Western and Southern provinces.

The goal of the Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program is to engage youth from different ethnic communities and capacitate them to use Forum Theatre and creative media tools to amplify the voice of youth and promote pluralistic values among a younger generation. Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program (2013-2017) helped hundreds of young boys and girls in Sri Lanka to realize their own strengths in creative and non-violent problem-solving.

SDJF is very pleased to invite youth groups, networks, youth-led organizations; government, private and non-governmental (National and International) entities who are committed to promoting youth inclusion in sustainable peace and development to join hands in hosting NYS 2018.

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