Promoting the Role of Youth in Developing Sustainable Peacebuilding
Let’s get the world talking, and acting, for peaceful and safer inclusive cities for all !“ UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif
Nairobi, June, 2018- The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in partnership with Youth Alive! Kenya and the Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) jointly hosted a Youth, Peace and Security symposium at the United Nations Office at Nairobi on 30th May following on from Tuesday’s International Day for Peace Keepers. This symposium is part of a series focusing on the role of youth in peacebuilding, the first session being held on May 22nd in Oslo, Norway at the LNU offices.
The Youth, Peace and Security symposium brought together youth leaders, UN speakers and other youth delegates from different parts of Kenya with a special call to action targeted at young people which was highlighted in the theme of the day “Share Your Thoughts, Raise your Voice, Act on SCR 2250”. The theme responded to a call to action by the UN to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security at the local level. The Symposium focused on the vital role of youth in peacebuilding globally.
The youth delegates identifyed key challenges and sustainable solutions to factors that hinder youth participation in promoting the peacebuiulding agenda in Kenya.
“Women, children and youth are the most vulnerable in the instances of war, conflict, violence and extremism resulting to displacement from their homes,” stated Youth Expert and Mandera One Stop Youth Resource Centre coordinator Hassan Abdikadir, “It is crucial for governments and international organizations to foster the aspect of gender parity to have more women taking part in peacebuilding processes. Through history women like Nobel Prize Winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Winnie Madikizela of South Africa and many other female heroic icons have brought harmony and stability to African communities. Get out of your comfort zones and push for your voices to be heard.”
Tessy Aura, alias @Socratess, Poet and Human Rights Expert at UN-Habitat opened the session with an epic poetic performance posing the question, ‘How can youth become active participants in the promotion of peace and security?’ She went on to give evidence based models that can be replicated globally on how to empower youth, especially young women, in peacebuilding processes,
“UN-Habitat uses capacity building to engage young people in exchange programs that educate, inform and empower youth in the areas of peacebuilding.” Ms. Aura further called out on young people to come out and work together with other advocates for peace assuring them that “There is a global room big enough for young people to take part in resolving conflicts as ambassadors and to be celebrated as champions of peace in their communities.” Her spoken word performance focused on the challenges faced by young women and their strength to overcome them.
“For far too long, much of contemporary thinking on youth and conflict tends to be overly negative. Security Council Resolution 2250 provides a fresh new perspective which gives a strong voice to youth as peace builders,” stated Sharmaarke Abdullahi, Project Management Officer at UN-Habitat Youth and Livelihoods Unit. Ashley, a Youth Delegate attending the conference, echoed this sentiment stating that “Youth need to be known for more than just election violence perpetrators by creating more opportunities that exploit their creative talents to earn a living.”
A better urban future starts by understanding the different dimensions of a “safe city” and opportunities for youth in cities to be more involved in sustaining peace in urban communities. Sharmaarke Abdullahi emphasized on the need for cities to create safe spaces for young people to gather and have their voices heard – a key factor during peacebuilding in post-conflict areas. Mr.Abdullahi also noted that “A safe city for women and youth is a safe city for all.”
Douglas Ragan, Chief at UN-Habitat Youth and Livelihoods Unit regaled the youthful audience with the history on how the UN arrived at Resolution 2250. “The roots of our understanding of youth and peacebuilding came in part from Kenya following the post-election violence in 2007 as well as the Arab Spring,” said Ragan adding that, “Tools such as the Ushahidi platform, which means testimony or witness in Swahili, were developed during this time based on the lived experience of the youth facing these conflicts. Ushahidi is a website that collects eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a online digital map. This tool is now used globally to support and promote peace.”
On the same day, the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák and UN Envoy on Youth to the Secretary General, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake hosted a Youth Dialogue event on UN-Web TV to tackle violent extremism targeted at young people and amplify the voices of youth worldwide who are leading peacebuilding activities for safer and inclusive cities for all. UN-Habitat gave the floor to youth leaders from 10 cities during the event: Pyongyang, Seoul, Tokyo, Gaza, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Mogadishu, Bogota, Quito to share their views and work on Youth, Peace and Security and safer inclusive cities for all!