The movement for a better world: Oxford University of Youth Engagement & Peacebuilding Working Group
The IPYG UK branch is carrying out various peace activities to resolve the fundamental causes of war, as well as solutions for refugees from around the world including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and South Sudan.
On May 22, the young people in Britain launched the Youth Engagement & Peacebuilding Working Group (YEPW) with students at Oxford University to help the youth become the center of realizing peace and equipping them to carry out specific and regular peace activities.
Oxford University has supported students and scholars affected by wars as a ‘University of Sanctuary’, starting with welcoming refugee academics during World War II up until now, providing support for students and academics affected by the war in Ukraine.
The YEPW was co-hosted by the Oxford Human Rights Student Society (OHRSS) and Oxford Society for International Development (OxSID), who discussed how to cooperate with local refugee communities and organizations in the local Oxford area.
The Oxford Society for International Development (OxSID), a member of the working group, facilitate discussions of the challenges and advances within International Development. The Oxford Human Rights Student Society (OHRSS) highlights opportunities for students with interest in the human rights law sector.
The participating students introduced their major fields and interests and discussed how to engage in local community in practical and effective support for refugees amidst ongoing global crises. This discussion was broken into four stages: goals (awareness, education, and engagement), target audiences, method of intervention, and intervention execution. Through this, students shared ideas for cultural activities based on empathy and understanding, such as sports days and documentary screening with the refugee communities in Oxford.
The General Director of the IPYG UK branch introduced cases of young people who have worked for peace, including Red Cross founder Henri Dunant and young students who protested the Vietnam War.
And, “Examples like this tell us that the power to change history is not just about the state or power. IPYG starts with this hope. This is our purpose to end global war, protect our friends, young people, build sustainable peace, and pass it on to future generations,” she said, highlighting the importance of young people’s participation in peace activities.
A student from OHRSS Committee who participated in the event expressed, “Everyone who attended really loved it and we really want to work with you in the future!” Other student from OxSID committee said, “What worked well about the YEPW brainstorming session was the focus on implementation and prolonged contact.” In addition, other participants added that it was a productive and innovative meeting, and a positive platform for young people to plan and implement ways of peacebuilding by participating in it directly and proactively.
The second round of the Oxford University YEPW, which will start again in Autumn 2023, will continue practical discussions on how to address the consequences of global conflict in local contexts, particularly through the lens of international law. IPYG UK will also expand its working group activities by conducting “Changemaker Summer Sessions,” with other YEPW participants including Oxford students during the summer.