Drawing the Roadmap for Peace
Youth from across Kosovo gathered in the Emerald Hotel this Wednesday and Thursday to share their voices locally, regionally and on the world stage.
As the first of its kind, the UN Kosovo Youth Assembly took inspiration from the international Youth Assembly at the United Nations. The event brought youth, UN Agencies, public institutions and civil society together to draw the Kosovo Roadmap on Youth, Peace and Security. The Assembly’s recommendations will go straight to Kosovo institutions as they incorporate youth in the decision-making process.
120 young people contributed their vision for Kosovo’s future— including all its potential, its challenges and their role in building it—while bonding with peers across-region and ethnicity.
Leaders from civil society, international organizations and the central government assisted attendees with their own stories and experience from the field.
Labinot Berisha, representing the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, remembered his early involvement in politics.
“Back then, I didn’t think young people could support peace and security,” he said before explaining that day’s assembled young people proved the opposite.
The opening panel discussed their hopes for the event and its focus on Kosovo’s first post-conflict generation, who are the largest per capita youth population in Europe. They encouraged the conference to share information and raise awareness as they explored education, youth participation and cross-ideological participation.
After a brief coffee break, an all-female panel delved deeper into the morning’s topics.
“How many Albanians have never met a Serb?” one panelist asked as hands raised.
“How many Serbs have never met an Albanian?” she asked again as more hands raised.
Using this information, the panel turned to the importance of post-conflict education to dispel myths and promote collaboration between communities.
Christina Mari, representing Kosovo 2.0, concurred. She said that “the divided city of Mitrovicia isn’t so divided. [Both sides] care about water, electricity and heating in their schools. They care about jobs.”
The attendees split off into workshops for the afternoon, using creative methods like posters, Lego bricks and illustrations to share their personal experiences and hopes for the future.
The following day saw the conference took a more serious turn as youth contributed recommendations to the conference’s four pillars: prevention, partnership, participation, and protection. The working groups each selected representatives to share their thoughts with the assembly. The ideas included youth representation in public decision-making and reformed education systems, all attempting to combat violence and build a secure, economically thriving Kosovo.
Together, they created the Youth, Peace and Security Road-Map for Kosovo. Likewise, Youth4Youth Project Awards were rewarded the attendees with standout plans to build security in their region and communities.
“Young people’s voice aren’t always heard,” UNMIK Deputy-SRSG Christopher Colman said. “The future isn’t mine. It’s yours. Make it better.”