UNFPA Project Advances Youth, Peace, Security Agenda

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Liberian youth groups, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, have organized themselves into a national coalition to drive Liberia’s youth peace and security agenda. The coalition’s formation follows a two-day workshop on youth, peace, and security in Monrovia. The workshop, conducted from 6-7 June, is part of the “Enhancing National Youth, Peace and Security Capacities in West Africa” project, which UNFPA is implementing through the ministries in charge of youth affairs and youth network in Liberia and Benin with the support of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). The project aims to raise awareness of the Youth Peace and Security (YPS) agenda and establish a multi-stakeholder platform. This platform will act as a central hub for coordinating national efforts and promoting youth participation in the peace and security agenda, ensuring that all stakeholders, regardless of their background, have a voice and role. “Young people constitute an untapped resource for peace and development, as they can be powerful agents for positive change due to their fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and boundless energy. As they make up 75 percent of the population, young people are critical drivers of Liberia’s stability and democratic credentials, which include over 20 years of stability with three successful and successive peaceful transfers of power,” says UNFPA Liberia Representative Bidisha Pillai.

She adds: “The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), as global co-leads on the Youth Peace and Security (YPS) agenda, in line with their respective YPS strategies, work to integrate the role of youth better, and young women in particular, in conflict prevention and sustaining peace into its analyses and recommendations, and also to integrate young women and men in formal and informal peace processes.” In her intervention, the UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Christine N. Umutoni, delivered a message on behalf of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simão, stressing that “our primary objective today is to pave the way for a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous future for our young women and men. We must ensure their active participation in all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, politics, development, peace, and security processes in Liberia.” Speaking when he formally launched the coalition, Youth and Sports Minister Cllr. Jeror Cole Bangalu commended the participating youth groups for their engagement and commitment to driving Liberia’s youth, peace, and security agenda and pledged his ministry support to the body. Cllr. Bangalu emphasized that the project is designed to empower young people and enlighten them about the importance of Youth, Peace, and Security in Liberia. “The National Coalition is crucial to ensuring national ownership of the NAPYPS process and content and the effective implementation of the project,” Cllr. Bangalu said. The National Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security will monitor and oversee the day-to-day implementation of the “Enhancing National Youth, Peace and Security Capacities in West Africa” project in Liberia – from the consultation process, formulation, and drafting to the validation/adoption of the National Action Plan on Youth, Peace, and Security (NAPYPS).

The National Action Plan on Youth, Peace, and Security will provide the opportunity and safe spaces for the youth to voice their concerns, identify overarching goals, and prioritize strategies for advancing youth, peace, and security through an inclusive and collaborative process and a national Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security. It will be the result of national consultation. It will serve as a framework/guiding document for governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders, ensuring comprehensive youth inclusion in all aspects of peace and security – from conflict prevention to peacebuilding. Editor’s note: The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250, adopted in 2015, is the first international legal framework to recognize the positive role that young people can play in preventing, managing, and resolving conflict, countering violent extremism, and building sustainable peace for development. This landmark resolution and its subsequent resolutions, 2419 (2018) and 2535 (2020), call on Member States to implement the YPS agenda and ensure the full protection of peacebuilders and human rights activists, respectively. The global YPS agenda further benefits from a secure regional base, as the African Union passed the first-ever landmark Continental framework on Youth, Peace and Security of the African Union and its implementation plan (2020-2029) in 2020, which seeks to put young people at the center of every peace process. Despite these landmark resolutions and frameworks, young people continue to be excluded from decision-making and peacebuilding processes due to various factors, including a lack of systematic and often meaningful engagement of youth, inadequate coordination, and lack of requisite attention to youth concerns and voices by critical stakeholders in peace processes.

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