There are numerous factors affecting peace and security in Central Asia. Arbitrary borders drawn during the Soviet era have resulted in natural resources, such as water, being disproportionately split between the Central Asian countries. Such a division has given rise to several cases of conflicts and political tension in the area. The region’s countries have since their independence in 1991 found themselves in national political turmoil on various occasions, as well as international influence from Russia and China affecting the ways the different countries are run. This volatile environment means young people in Central Asia are currently facing the consequences of political and financial instability, potentially affecting their future.

Resolution 2250, adopted by the UN Security Council in 2015, aims at dismantling distrust between youth and governmental agencies, decreasing unemployment among youth affected by conflict and making sure young people have an actual impact on the peace and security discourse. The purpose of Resolution 2250 is to acknowledge the role of young people in maintaining peace and security in their countries as well as local communities. All the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are dependent on the upholding of peace and security for their realisation, making Resolution 2250 an important area of global focus.

Young people in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan hold the opinion that they cannot influence political decision-making via traditional channels such as by having party membership or be part of a youth organisation. Hence, they are actively seeking alternative ways of being politically active, such as engaging in volunteering and political networks. A similar pattern is found in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, where young people perceive themselves as having a limited impact on politics and policies in their countries . [8] The rise of information technologies has expanded the informal arena of political engagement, allowing young people to engage with political discourses online. However, restrictions to internet usage apply to various extents in all Central Asian states, effectively controlling this space, the opinions shared and the implications thereof .

Given the context of peace and security in the region, involving young people in activities linked to the realisation of Resolution 2250 are adamant. The efforts linked to the implementation have so far not been carried out by governmental agencies, but by agencies linked to the UN and other international actors such as Eurasia Foundation and OSCE. The activities have consisted of various workshops, inviting young people to discuss and learn more about the role of peace and security in their local contexts. Online platforms, such as youth4peace.com, where young people can discuss their views and experience of peace and security matters, have been proven to make up a useful tool to encourage youth participation in the discourse. The second effort has targeted the facilitation of international youth discussions, in which young people can share their experiences of engaging in the peace and security discourse.

Another important aspect of the implementation of Resolution 2250 relates to the trust building between governmental agencies and young people. Often this is done by the construction of youth committees. The influence of Central Asian youth committees on a governmental agency level has so far resulted in veneered participation of young people. Politicians are aware of the benefit to their overall image and work, were they to involve young people in their work. However, it is reported by youth in Central Asia that this participation often consists more of them attending meetings without opportunities for them to actively participate, shape and review the agenda of peace and security policies. The prevalence of veneered participation can be attributed to the role of youth in Central Asian societies, as well as to authoritarian norms. Young people in Central Asia are often perceived by their elders as passive actors in society, as age hierarchical norms are strongly present. Authoritarianism often incorporates participation as a veneered feature of their work, as they are not actively seeking to collate views or allow for other actors, such as young people, to influence their work.

There have been attempts by local governments to enable youth to more actively participate in local decision making and ensure young people can make positive contributions to their local community and feel a sense of ownership. Such a project took place in the region of Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan where local authorities invested in a project designed to help young people run their own social action projects. However, such initiatives remain a rare occurrence at this stage. Central Asian countries are thus currently falling short of displaying coherent government led initiatives linked to the implementation of Resolution 2250. There is also to date no National Action Plan put forward by any of the nations. Given the fairly recent adoption of Resolution 2250 in 2015, there is significant scope for the implementation of further beneficial developments in Central Asia, such as the creation and adoption of a National Action Plan in the future. A National Action Plan, apart from containing the governmental strategies for how to fulfill the goals set for the Resolution, is a tool which can be used by the public to hold the government accountable to their commitments. The aforementioned NGO initiatives are an important part of the civil society developments related to Resolution 2250, equipping young people with the knowledge and skills of how to put forward the priorities of young people linked to the 2250 agenda. Such developments are important stepping stones for young people to push for governmental response to the adoption of a National Action Plan for Resolution 2250.

Disclaimer. This clip was created with the funds from SIDA and managed through ForumCiv. ForumCiv does not necessarily share the views expressed in this clip.

Written by: Maria Pettersson, project manager at Central Asia Solidarity Groups
Animated by Urmat Ulanov, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 

List of literature used:

  1. Youth4Peace (2018) ‘The Missing Peace’ available via: https://www.youth4peace.info/system/files/2018-10/youth-web-english.pdf
  2.  Youth4Peace (2017) ‘Youth, Peace & Security in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region: A Consultation and Dialogue 23-25 May 2017, Istanbul, Turkey’ available via:https://www.youth4peace.info/system/files/2017-11/2017.09.06%20-%20Report%20-%20Eastern%20Europe%20and%20Central%20Asia%20Consultation%20and%20Dialogue%20on%20Youth%2C%20Peace%20%26%20Security.pdf
  3. UN.org (2018) ‘Young People Powerful Agents for Resolving, Preventing Conflict, Speakers Tell Security Council Open Debate amid Calls to Change Negative Stereotypes’ available via:https://www.un.org/peacebuilding/news/young-people-powerful-agents-resolving-preventing-conflict-speakers-tell-security-council-open 
  4. UN.org (n.d.) Speakers Call for Addressing Causes of Conflict, Rather Than Investing in ‘Bullets and Tanks’, as General Assembly Continues High-Level Debate on Sustaining Peace available via: https://www.un.org/peacebuilding/news/speakers-call-addressing-causes-conflict-rather-investing-%E2%80%98bullets-and-tanks%E2%80%99-general-assembly 
  5. Youth4Peace (2018) ‘Youth, Peace and Security in Kyrgyzstan’ available via: https://www.youth4peace.info/system/files/2018-04/6.%20FGD_Kyrgyzstan_SFCG_0.pdf 
  6. Mayssoun Sukarieh & Stuart Tannock (2017) ‘The global securitisation of youth’,  Third World Quarterly Volume 39, 2018 – Issue 5 Pages 854-870.
  7. Samantha Peko,Hans Meyer &Karlyga Myssayeva (2019) You can’t censor live: technology acceptance drives Central Asian journalists to mobile and helps them overcome press restrictions, Media Asia  Volume 46, 2019 – Issue 3-4 pp. 63-77.
  8. Kabul et al. (2017)  POLITICAL ORIENTATIONS OF THE YOUTH IN TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN AND KAZAKHSTAN (https://www.ca-c.org/online/2017/journal_eng/cac-02/10.shtml  accessed on 19.10.20) 
  9. Nassimova et. al. (2019) THE YOUTH OF KAZAKHSTAN AND KYRGYZSTAN: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL ACTIVISM , Volume 20 Issue 1 2019 CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS English Edition https://bit.ly/3lXBDS3