Vancouver, Canada: Over 500 delegates from more than 70 countries are attending the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference being held November 14th and 15th in Vancouver, Canada. One of the key focuses of the conference will be on securing new pledges from Member States on the issues of peacebuilding, with a special focus being given to youth and women.
A two day Youth as Peacebuilders forum is being held during the conference which will bring hundreds of youth from around the world. A focus of the Forum will be giving input to the government representatives on how they should support youth. Also, the youth will be reviewing the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2250, the first ever resolution to address youth issues in conflict.
“As UN-Habitat we believe that young men and women are critical to peacebuilding, and are very excited to see this as a focus of the conference,” states Tessy Aura, UN-Habitat Human Rights Officer, “I am looking forward to discussing what are the best practices in engaging youth in peacebuilding with the youth gathered here at the Youth As Peacebuilders forum.”
The youth of today are yearning for peace and are ready to sacrifice everything else to realize the dream of a better future. This an opportune moment for the UN to invest in youth4peace that can have greater impact in Somalia.
Mohammed Arshad, Youth Activist, Mogadishu, Somalia.
It is estimated that a 600 million young people are living in conflict zones or fragile states, many of them in the cities and towns of the world. UN-Habitat, which is the UN agencies charged with sustainable urban development, is at the forefront of developing programmes for youth and peacebuilding in conflict areas such as Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
“We are currently working with local and national governments in Somalia and South Sudan to establishment youth-led peacebuilding programmes,” states Douglas Ragan, head of the Youth Unit for UN-Habitat, “For example, we recently established a mutli-purpose youth centre in Mogadishu, Somalia and soon in Juba, South Sudan. These centres work with youth in a holistic way, providing them with critical job training, while as well engaging them in governance and peacebuilding activities.”
Since the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 in December of 2015, youth have had high hopes for their recognition and engagement in the peacebuilding process.
The need to understand the dynamics of peace within the urban context has also become a critical issue for decision-makers globally. The International Red Cross estimates that fifty million people are currently bearing the brunt of war in cities around the world.
Peace can also be made in cities – those on the frontline are young people who often live in slums and informal settlements. Isaac Muasa who lives in the Mathare Slum in Nairobi, Kenya is one of those youth. In the ongoing election tensions in Kenya, he and many of his contemporaries continue to promote a strong message of peace.
“We must continue to engage in developing our communities, ensuring social change and dignity for all residents, states Muasa, “We don’t have to bleed so that they can lead. We will lead our generation to a better tomorrow.”
In another confict area, Mogadishu, Somalia, that same message and commitment is prevalent.
“Somalia has had a long protracted conflict of about three decades. Since the start of the civil war in 1991, the international community has made a number of efforts to broker peace negotiations among warring factions that had limited success,” reflects Mohamed Arshad, Youth Activist, “The youth of today are yearning for peace and are ready to sacrifice everything else to realize the dream of a better future. This an opportune moment for the UN to invest in youth4peace that can have greater impact in Somalia.”