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Consultation

Youth Violence in Central America: Lessons learned from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras

Events

Location: Interpeace Conference Room 

Maison International de l’Environnement No 2. (MIE II)

7-9 Chemin de Balexert, 1219 Châtelaine

Background:

Youth are bearing the brunt of armed violence in Central America, the levels of which are comparable to active and on-going armed conflict settings. Young men and women are at the same time perpetrators and victims of armed violence. A sense of hopelessness fuelled by unemployment and the lack of opportunities causes young people to turn to gangs and illicit economies as alternative sources of stability and livelihood. Young people are being seen as part of the problem, not the solution, and their contributions to society are often considered irrelevant. The powerlessness and alienation felt by young men and women has also been shaped by the 'iron fist' approach ('mano dura') frequently taken by Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran governments. 'Mano dura' responses tend to be reactive, pay little attention to root causes of violence or crime, and focus on punishment rather than prevention and transformation. Isabel Aguilar Umaña, Director of Interpeace Youth Programme in Central America, will take stock of approaches to youth violence in Central America based on more than 10 years of experience in designing and facilitating dialogue processes in Guatemala and the region. She will also make the case for a more holistic approach and in-built prevention measures to address the problem of youth-related violence following her direct experience of dealing with youth in difficult contexts.

Speakers:

Welcome by Dr. Achim Wennmann, Executive Coordinator of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform

Presentation by Isabel Aguilar Umaña, Director of Interpeace Youth Programme in Central America

Comments by a representative of the Geneva Declaration, followed by a discussion.

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