Young people from Commonwealth countries in Asia have been learning how they can take action to prevent and counter violent extremism and build peace in their communities.
Aspiring leaders and change-makers aged between 18 and 25 took part in a five-day workshop in Brickfield, Malaysia, to equip themselves with skills to help shape their communities in positive ways.
The workshop was run by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Royal Commonwealth Society.
Entitled ‘Youth Summit on International Peace and Security and Building Community Resilience from the Ground Up’ the aim is to build the capacity of young people to empower communities and instil resilience to extremism.
Opening the workshop, Malaysia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saifuddin Abdullah, said young people have a vital role to play in promoting peace and preventing violence among their peers.
The workshop made it possible for young leaders to connect with each other, share their experiences, confront the challenges, explore solutions and develop the necessary skills and tools to make change happen.
Steven Sim Chee Keong, Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, spoke about the importance of political engagement and active citizenship in building peace.
He acknowledged that politics can be messy and discouraging at times, but advised participants to bear in mind that “ .. the answer to bad politics is not no politics – it’s good politics". Urging them not to discount their impact just because they are young, he pointed to examples of young people who have been elected to parliament and even hold ministerial positions in Malaysia.
The workshop also included a day-long simulation of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in which debates focused on international peace and security. Through this activity, the participants gained insights into the workings of the Commonwealth and learned how its commitment to respect, rule of law and consensus building make it an effective organisation.