Yesterday, Liberians celebrated the international Peace Day in style. Actually, activities for the commemoration of IPD started a week before with the Video Teleconference (VTC) with three other UN field missions and the UNHQ with UN Secretary General and Madam Leymah Gbowee.

Shortly before the close of the event at the UNMIL Headquarter a dialogue among genuine peace messengers ensued about the unusual similarity of two activities for the International Peace Day and the distribution of our merger human and financial resources for an impactful program for peace. The parallelism of our peace activities was so obvious that one UN staff member mentioned the impossibility for such coincidence and occurrence in any serious peace initiative.

While Messengers of Peace (MOP) is happy to see a replication of its flagship program, it is concerning to notice the lack of acknowledgement of meaningful involvement of young people. If the goals of sustainable development and peace and the priorities of UNSCR # 2250 are to be realized, we need to be spending more time and resources on young people. It should not be we (young people) versus them. Our disagreement on issues of ownership, transparency and accountability can only make us stronger, not diminish our resolve for sustainable peace.

It is our firm conviction that the issues driving peace are not the promotion of self and organizational agenda but those (of collaboration, partnership, sponsorship and cooperation) designed towards a common cause for sustainable peace in Liberia. Each of us is a role model to certain constituents, and partnership for peace should be on the basis of equality, respect and trust.

Access to financial and other resources should be used as tools for the inclusion and mobilization of young people for peace, not otherwise. We should search our conscience and be appalled at the actions we undertake to involve young people (the future leaders of this country) especially those who refuse to be indoctrinated, initiated to imbibe shameful and corrupt programmatic and financial practices that permeate the dispensations of funds for peace programs. Giving youth based Organizations pittance does not promote peace; and this is not a call to peace, dignity and justice.

Our professional interests, commitment and passion for peace should be guided by the core values of integrity, not by our power differential and connection to established authority that are designed to limit the power of active engagement and participation of young people.

The mere idea of non-involvement of young people in peace programs only helps to exacerbate the notion that young people are tokens necessary to promote the agenda of others. We need to embrace our young people regardless of our differences.

Despite the disturbing trends in our pursuits for sustainable peace, we still implemented a measureable program for the International Peace Day at minimal cost. We started with a VTC, a prayer vigil at the Slip-way grounds with special emphasis on Psalm 46; intercessory service for peace at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship; a peace walk and peace talk on the role of young people as building blocks for sustainable development and peace.

We take this opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that have high regards for young people, those who teach us to be honest and true to our callings and those who come to our recuse when the going gets tough and when those who are not matriculated for peace try to steal our thunder in the name of not collaborating. Your encouragement, financial and emotional support as well as protection continue to sustain us and restore our hope in humanity.

Ten years of measuring peace and thirteen years since the cessation of violence, we are pleased to note that Liberia ranks 72 of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index. This ranking is higher than Nigeria at 149. Given this level of peacefulness and the need for positive peace driven by systematic thinking for the involvement of young people, we would continue to uphold our values and principles; a scepter of peace and justice will be the scepter of our organization.

Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers-What young people say is their recipe for peace, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth!


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