This month; dialogue among peace messengers shifted from the role women in power inspiring and supporting younger women to thrive and grow, to the role of adolescents in peacebuilding and consolidation of peace.
In discussing the role of young people in peacebuilding, we were reminded of the outcome of three high school debates that prepositioned young people are ill equipped and inexperienced and therefore should not be involved or asked to participate in peace and security matters.
Lets face it; we have more issues that demotivate adolescents than inspire them to peace and security issues. These issues include growing up in a post conflict environment, access to quality education, sustainable employment including job security, affordable basic social infrastructure including but not limited to water and sanitation, housing, food security, electricity, rapid technological changes and high speed internet service.
While adolescent needs are different, the objectives of getting young people to participate in peace and security issue remain the same.
The challenge of adolescent in simple terms is sustainable development, which in essences, means a nation that is prosperous, fair and invest in its’ young people.
Inspiring young people, particularly adolescents to peace building and peace consolidation remains the most important strategy necessary to overcome these challenges and we have before us two very important platforms for the engagement of adolescents.
The UNSCR# 2250 focuses on five pillars for the protection, prevention, participation, partnership and disengagement or reintegration of young people in peace and security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the year 2030 negotiated by world leaders three years ago addresses of inequality, inclusiveness and participation.
The era when policy documents are shelve based is over, adolescents should be motivated to participate in peace building
As adolescents, our future depends on these documents as the documents offer opportunities to end extreme poverty, promote peace and economic development. In order to earn the benefits offered by these documents, we need to change the attitudes of adolescents toward peace. Our first approach would be to clearly define the peace goal; making it more specific and raising awareness among young people.
By defining the peace goals for adolescents involvement and participation in peace initiatives more clearly, we can then begin to solicit for much needed support to translate policy documents into living documents that impacts on the lives of others.
Peace among adolescents should be cultivated and nourished given the need for adolescent to imbibe the culture of peace and get involved. This, in our dialogue, is an important first step towards peace and for adolescents to step away from violence.
We’ve seen it in recent times that when we strive together, we are, in the words of America Presidential nominee, stronger together and in the words of former Haiti’s first elected President –Jean-Bertrand Aristide “ if one suffers we all suffer. Togetherness is strength- Courage.”
According to Hillary Clinton When any barrier falls, it clears the way for everyone. Let us keep striving.
Until next week, when we come to you with part 2 of adolescents and peace and the role of government to engage adolescents in peace building initiatives, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time.