Dialogue Among Peace Messengers: Peace Power Talk
Gwendolyn S. Myers/Founder &Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP)
At an occasionally subdued meeting with civil society organizations and some government ministries in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia, a dialogue ensued. It could have been likened to the David and Goliath biblical story, except this was not war, but a peace power talk between a volunteer peace messenger and some colleagues attending the meeting.
The dialogue centered on the application of the UNSCR#2250 and the need to bring back older folks and not leave the quest for sustainable peace in the hands of young people. It seems to us that the UNSCR# 2250 mandate is either lost in translation or in its application.
We cannot over emphasize the need for inclusive approach to peace building; the dialogue on whether or not to include youths in stakeholders meeting on peace is not the issue. The issue of inclusion of young people in peacebuilding and peace consolidation is a foregone conclusion (read our articles on “harnessing the latent energy of young people for sustainable peace-Parts I- IV in the Daily Observer Newspaper). What is of any significance is the need for equal partnership, trust and integrity. We need to give young people the space and resources to function.
For a moment, we are cognizance of the intention of older colleagues to take charge of peace building processes, but when they begin to see young people as tokens in the peace enterprise that has suddenly become lucrative due to uncommon visibility MOP-Liberia and others have given to it in recent times, then there is need to take a more practical look and promote national dialogue of the different initiatives young volunteers, not just MOP-Liberia, have put in place.
It is detestable to stir up conflict in the community where dialogue and mediation should be pursued; it is equally detestable to pitch young people against each other. We all have to find our niche in life; and peace, to us, means the perfect fulfillment of that for which must we chose to promote.
The involvement of young people in peace consolidation and sustainability should not be competitive but cooperative; it should not be selective but shared. Resources for peace keeping and building should not be concentrated in the hands of our older colleagues; it should be pooled for the benefit of everyone. After all, it is a common goal.
None of us would be obscure politically if we could help it. We all have a role to play in this country peace process, most especially as we prepare for the next Presidential and General Elections in October 2017.
Can we do our work when resources are denied young people? Some of us always want to be illuminated peace advocates with golden haloes and flush of inspiration, and to have the center stage when dealing with young people. A gilt-edged peace advocate is no good to peace consolidation.
Young peace volunteers should not come under fire as non-state actors and for the work they do. Rather, we should be encouraged for the work ahead.
UNSCR#2250 advocates for the active participation of young people, not as half fledged participants but as equal partners to do the work of the world, and to do it with an infinitely greater passion and energy. Sustainable Development Goals 10, 16 and 17 advocate for reduced inequalities, partnership, peace, justice and strong institutions respectively.
Until next week when we come to you with another dialogue among peace messengers, peace first, peace above all else and may peace continue to prevail in our land.