The launch of the research paper is the outcome of a participatory action research process, which was the first component of the Amplifying Leadership of Local Youth (ALLY) programme. Followed by capacity development, activism and advocacy components, the ALLY programme is a hugely innovative approach to tackling violent extremism
In a complex and fragmented region, where violent extremism (VE) has long been an issue, there is little understanding of the push and pull factors of South Asian youth towards VE narratives and youth-led approaches to preventing violent extremism (PVE). This research contributes to filling the gap of region-specific resources for PVE, as well as strategies and locally-led initiatives for more sustainable and context-specific solutions. Moreover, this is the first research endeavour in this context that uses participatory action research to leverage the unique experiences and expertise of young peacebuilders.
“This research journey has affirmed my faith in the potential of youth”, said Janith Prabashwara Perera, ALLY researcher from Sri Lanka. “From countering hate speech to misinformation and disinformation on social media, youth have the potential as political leaders to build peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We need to build trust across generations that youth carry the capacity to change the status quo. It is their passion and efforts that can prevent violent extremism and build durable peace in Sri Lanka”.
While this study sheds light on drivers of VE for South Asian youth that match findings from other regional and global analyses, it also illuminates the other side of the equation: young people who choose to become peacebuilders. Importantly, the study identifies what is needed to strengthen youth peacebuilding in the region.
Coordinated by UNOY’s Mridul Upadhyay and supervised by Lead Researcher Felix Bivens, the ALLY researchers emphasise the incredible commitment of young peacebuilders to deal with the complexity and dangers of VE in the communities in which they live. However, this commitment requires equal dedication from governments, decision-makers, and civil society groups to understand and enable the power of young people determined to prevent VE across the region.
“This is the first subregional study on this topic”, said Mridul, ALLY Programme Coordinator and UNOY Regional Coordinator in Asia. “We keep seeing issues about youth being studied by non-youth researchers, or youth being engaged in studies only as data collectors. But if we want to study the motivations, challenges and barriers of youth, engaging in transforming PVE narratives, there is a lot of merit in young peacebuilders discussing these with their peers [other young peacebuilders]. For these reasons, the ALLY research programme adopted a youth participatory action research approach, and listening-and-learning methodology”
This report is dedicated to the victims of violent extremism in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and to the young peacebuilders who hold the lamp aloft to show a better way
To download the full research publication <www.unoy.org/downloads/ally-research/>
To learn more about the ALLY programme <www.unoy.org/project/ally/>