February 24 – Emerging leaders from across Southeast Asia are participating in the virtual Youth Leaders Symposium on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) and Online Disinformation in ASEAN on February 24–26, which is organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism. Recognizing the importance of including youth perspectives in peace and security dialogue, the Youth Leaders Symposium promotes youth leadership and engagement for regional P/CVE policies, initiatives, and cooperation.
Barbara Paoletti, representing the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Counterterrorism in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, noted the destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the need for meaningful youth engagement. “Opportunities in this region and globally remain limited for young people to provide inputs and influence decision-making and community programs,” she said. “All too often, decisions related to peace and security are made for young people, not with them. Youth leaders have shown that they can be positive actors for change, particularly at grassroots and local levels. They should be recognized as equal and powerful partners who can contribute to all steps and all aspects of preventing and countering violent extremism.”
Throughout the Youth Leaders Symposium, participants (ages 17–35) across Southeast Asia will share best practices, common challenges, and emerging trends in P/CVE. They rely on their diverse backgrounds and experience with P/CVE to promote tolerance and peace and raise awareness about online mis- and disinformation in their communities. Sessions will cover a range of topics including educational strategies on preventing violent extremism; combating the misuse of digital platforms; building media literacy; and amplifying ASEAN’s Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda. Participants will learn about ASEAN efforts to promote P/CVE and enhance youth media literacy under the Bali Work Plan. Guest speakers will include representatives from the ASEAN Youth Forum, ASEAN Youth Organization, and the ASEAN Foundation. As the Symposium continues, participants will have the opportunity to jointly develop recommendations to contribute to the ASEAN-U.S. Regional Workshop on CVE (anticipated in 2022) and form a network to stay connected beyond the Symposium.
The Youth Leaders Symposium builds upon ASEAN-U.S. cooperation in the development and implementation of the Bali Work Plan and the Training-of-Trainers to Promote Media Literacy and Counter Disinformation. Under the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership (2021-2025), the U.S. government is committed to continue working with ASEAN to advance shared peace and security priorities, including P/CVE and the inclusion of youth in regional dialogue and policy processes.