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Third SDG Seminar Focuses on Efforts to Engage with Young People in Conflict Areas


At the third Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seminar on July 3, 2017, Yukiko Ishii, secretary-general of the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP), highlighted her organization’s peace-building efforts with young people in troubled areas. There were 64 attendees, including faculty staffers, at what was yet another successful event.

Speaker Yukiko Ishii

Ms. Ishii spoke about the 16th SDG: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. She also traced the history of global conflicts and overviewed the current situation and discussed the JCCP’s overseas projects and other initiatives.

Beginning her presentation with the peace and justice elements of that SDG, Ms. Ishii pointed out that as victims of aggression seek some form of legal punishment for perpetrators, fairness and justice are essential for peace. She noted that most conflicts have been in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. She showed statistics demonstrative that while there have been fewer conflagrations between states since the end of the Cold War there has been a gradual increase in the number of revolutionary wars and ethnic conflicts.
Students at the event were fascinated with Ms. Ishii’s explanation that nongovernment organizations and other non-state actors have played growing roles in preventing conflicts from recurring and in building peace in view of a decline in inter-state wars, for which countries enter into arbitration to determine post-hostility settlements and compensation, amid a rise in ethnicity-fueled civil wars and cross-border terrorism.

Attendees at seminar

Since 2015, deaths from terrorism have surged in countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Even Japan is not immune to the spread of cross-border terrorism. Ms. Ishii spoke about young Somalis finding refuge in Kenya, noting that personal crises, the spread of ideology, and the penetration of social media and other technologies, and other factors have radicalized these young people. She said that they can pass through four stages, from agitation to, self-identification, indoctrination, and violent extremism. She added that nongovernment organizations can intervene at the agitation stage to prevent radicalization. Ms. Ishii explained that JCCP assists young people in Somalia, Turkey, and other countries by providing training and skills enhancement, offering psychosocial support, and educating about laws and policies. She spotlighted progress in Turkey, presenting photos underscoring the ethnic harmony that her organization has fostered between Syrian refugees and Turks through job training at a women’s cultural center.

Ms. Ishii told students that whatever their situations it is important for them to keep learning, and shared her advice on developing careers in the peace-building arena. The seminar was a valuable opportunity for students to gain insights from a peace-builder in conflict zones in the importance of ethnic harmony at grassroots levels and the conflict prevention initiatives that nongovernment organizations are uniquely equipped to undertake.

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