Youth Engagement in Conflict Resolution Processes: Lessons Learnt from the Turkish Experience with the WPC

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On 14-16 February 2020, Democratic Progress Institute held a planned Roundtable meeting in Istanbul with a group of diverse young people from across Turkey’s many constituencies. The youth group is comprised of representatives of the three main political parties in Turkey (AK PARTY, CHP and HDP) as well as committed and influential persons from a variety of backgrounds, including teachers, academics, social workers, university students and members of civil society. Following on from three Comparative Study Visits focussing on youth inclusion in peace processes and as part of DPI’s planned series of meetings exploring the role of young people in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and democratisation processes, this roundtable, for the first time, provided a forum for participants to discuss the lessons learnt from the Turkish peace process and the role of the youth in conflict resolution together with members of the former Wise Persons’ Committee.

Participants were given the opportunity to engage with two members of the former Wise Persons’ Committee – Ali Bayramoglu, Journalist and Political Commentator and Vahap Coskun, Lecturer at Dicle University. The aim of this session was to give the young people a chance to hear the first-hand accounts of those who were directly engaged in the Turkish resolution process. Both speakers gave an insightful overview of their WPC experience as well as sharing their subjective analyses of the process. They discussed the function of the WPC as the bridge to bring the idea of peace and resolution to all levels of society. This led to a very fruitful discussion in which Mr Bayramoglu and Mr Coskun both agreed that a weakness of the Turkish resolution process was here reflected in the WPC experience – there was a lack of concrete points or direction emerging from the process proper which WPC members could pass on to constituencies. This, they noted, is a lesson that must be learnt in order for any future peace process in Turkey to be successful. Participants agreed that hearing such open and honest accounts from the former WPC members gave them great insight into the complexity of a peace process, as well as highlighting some of the major challenges to be overcome in any future resumption of the resolution process in Turkey.

The roundtable was part of the project ‘Supporting inclusive dialogue at a challenging time in Turkey’, supported by the EU and the Norwegian governments.

We would like to express, once again, our thanks to all of our speakers and participants in the programme for sharing their experiences and expertise and to DPI intern Vera Sibilio for her assistance in preparing this report.