MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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It is becoming increasingly obvious that for peace to begin to yield dividends, the active participation of adolescents in peace and security must be assured. Last week, we mentioned that meaningful involvement of adolescents in peace and security matters is not only essential but critical. We also mentioned the urgency required to raise peace awareness among adolescents if attitudes to peace participation are to be changed.

This week, the focus is on the role of governments to engage adolescents in peace building initiatives. For government to translate policy documents such as UNSCR # 2250 and SDGs into action, there must be a buy in. Political will requires political wheels for things to be put in motion. It is the obligation of all governments to provide the physical infrastructure as well as yearly subventions critical to the support if youth-based organizations for peace and security.

For adolescents to be meaningfully involved there is a need to build a fair system, where there is legitimacy, transparency and accountability of the process. Such system should be free of lies, corruption and false sense of security. Any government agency laced with nepotism, chauvinism, favoritism, racism, and prejudice would compromise genuine participation of young people and the quest for sustainable peace in Liberia.

Adolescents in peace building programs do not need to be blindsided or outwitted by those in power or authority, or even by their peers. Adolescents in peace building need to be treated fairly in a friendly environment of open communication and trust.

As adolescents, we very rarely have the space or the chance to engage in peace and security matters at national level. We need government to provide legitimate space for all youth-led organizations for peace. According to Professor Peter Williamson, the
Academic program Director, Cambridge Advanced Leadership Program, University of Cambridge, “we seldom have the chance to step back and recognize the gradual, but relentless trends that are shaping our future, until they explode in crisis.”

We believe that adolescents have a thing to say and it is only important if this is said from a position of equal partnership. The issue of adolescent and peace is bigger than any one government, organization or individual; consequently, adolescents should be encouraged, not pitched against each other. Our generation is one for peace.

It is no coincidence that the theme for the ongoing under-2 FIFA women’s world cup in Papua New Guinea titled “Handshake for Peace-Live Your Goal and End Violence”

As young people and adolescents, we have an obligation to get involved and connected. Divisive rhetoric, comments and associations would not facilitate this obligation. It is impolite to sideline young peace activists involved in peace building activities and initiatives.

Adolescents involved in peace and security are of kindred spirit. We need to bring peace secret to light. Peace is about adaptability that requires us to change our shape and thinking to fit in.

Until next week, when we come to you with part 3 of adolescents and peace and the role of international organizations to engage adolescents in peace building initiatives, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our lifetime.

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