Global Youth Peace Indaba

On 15 October the ACTION Support Centre facilitated a session of the Global Youth Peace Indaba. Originally planned to run in parallel with the Nobel Peace Summit, 116 young people from 16 countries came to the event in spite of the Laureate boycott.

Participants divided themselves into five groups defined by different size and gender arrangements – a men’s group, a large women’s group, a small women’s group, an exceptionally large group, and a medium sized group. Four of the groups began with items. All five of the groups were given lists of items and three minutes to acquire the items on the list, largely comprised of items held by other groups.

In the midst of laughter, trickery, bartering, stealing, and some minor confrontations, none of the groups achieved their list. When asked if they believed there were enough items in the room for everyone to attain everything on their list, however, the vast majority of participants believed that there was indeed enough in the room – and they were right.

As we unpacked the experience, critical reflections were shared. The participants identified and reflected upon issues around gender, possession, resources, minorities, and the role of force.

One young man observed that no one took the time to question the system and the artificial constraints imposed upon them – three minutes and a list of items. He observed that conflict occurs within complex systems, and the people involved often do not understand the systems in ways that would empower them to change the systems.

A young woman observed, after a brief altercation that happened next to her, that while the two people directly involved made peace, she found herself still angry at the person she thought was the aggressor. She put this into dialogue with the observation Mary Robinson shared at the Desmond and Leah Tutu International Peace Lecture: peace agreements often involve bad men forgiving other bad men in nice hotels in front of television cameras. Such resolution efforts neglect the broad context in which conflict occurs.

As the young people observed early in the conversation, there was enough to go around, and different approaches would have led to different, more constructive, less volatile approaches. Through a process of action and reflection, the participants deepened their awareness of the systemic nature of conflict and considered their responsibilities and potential roles in transforming conflict as a part of a broader transformation agenda.