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Conflict prevention and peace-building

Conflict prevention has become an international priority. Previous efforts have accessed peace-building strategies from a macro level, taken a narrow approach determined by top-level ideals of peace, and neglected cross-sectoral approaches. To understand the dynamics surrounding youth and violence, however, the underlying social injustices must be analyzed at various levels. Building a more complete picture of realities on the ground provides a solid foundation for the development of appropriate prevention mechanisms. In implementing prevention strategies, injustices must be addressed not only in areas where armed conflict is prevalent, but also in areas where high tension levels threaten the security of civilians. To ascertain and address the roots of the problems that cause violent acts, conflict prevention and peace-building processes must incorporate efforts to identify the frustrations and interests of youth, who bear the brunt of these injustices, as well as those of other groups in society. Aid agencies and Governments must ensure the integration of religious leaders, teachers, youth, their relatives and other community actors in these processes, and each actor must take on specific responsibilities. Conflict is one of the most complex issues the global community is facing today; its impact is apparent in every part of the world. Preventive measures have become an essential component of efforts to ensure a brighter future. Enabling youth to make major positive contributions is

one way to minimize or neutralize factors that contribute to violence, increase global security, and prevent further armed conflict. Exposure to violence during the formative years can have a defining influence on the character of young people involved in armed conflict—either as perpetrators or as victims. The effects of armed conflict on the physical and psychological well-being of young people, and on their future prospects for leading normal lives, are a cause for serious concern. Existing prohibitions against the use of child soldiers should be strictly enforced, and special attention should be given to protecting civilians, particularly children and youth, and preventing them from falling victim to conflicts. Notwithstanding these considerations, there have been numerous examples of young people taking part in activities that build peace, promote a culture of peace, and ultimately prevent conflict. These efforts should be strengthened and supported.

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