Sierra Leone Youth Takes Center Stage
17 March 2017
On 28 February 2017, the Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone in close partnership with the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding organized a launch event of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, to honor this landmark resolution in an official ceremony. The Resolution was officially launched by Anthony A. Koroma, Commissioner, National Youth Commission. The event brought together well over one hundred and twenty representatives from the government, civil society organizations, youth activists, academics, some CSPPS members such as Cordaid, Search for Common Ground, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, as well as UN agencies, such as UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and FAO to discuss challenges and opportunities for greater youth engagement in the country's future. CSPPS was represented in this meeting by Peter van Sluijs, Coordinator of the CSPPS Secretariat and Senior Strategist at Cordaid.
Being on the crossroads since the country's civil war, Sierra Leone has had several processes unfolding as part of repositioning her place on the global and governance stages. While most of these processes are looked at as key opportunities for holistic growth and engagement, a lot seems disconnected as to answering questions like how central young people are in seeking joint and collective solutions to dealing with major drivers of conflicts, violence and fragility in general. Launching the UNSCR 2250 is a significant bold step in not only raising the profile and meaningful involvement of youth in peace and security, but further generating wider policy and stakeholder interest while building on commitments to solidify structures for holistic engagement with young people for a peaceful Sierra Leone.
Photo credit: YPPD
Going beyond the launch, it is obvious that the debate no longer centers on how critical young people are when it comes to peacebuilding, conflict prevention and violent extremism; but rather how we collectively answering the very question of what differently we can do for them (youth) to take the center stage in building and consolidating Sierra Leone's hard-earned peace. While acknowledging government of Sierra Leone's efforts in putting the necessary regulatory and institutional frameworks, it is our hope that national launch of the Resolution will be an opportunity to doing more, particularly in harnessing the very demographic dividend that youth presents.
The launch further serve as a significant step in setting up an Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Youth Peace and Security in Sierra Leone and by extension, the very significant beginning to cushioning rising election tensions emanating in the lead up to the 2018 national polls. The wider CSPPS Country team in Sierra Leone has actively supported the event and will ensure follow-up in context of their work on New Deal and PSGs, but also as part of the overall national effort in placing youth at the center of peacebuilding and statebuilding
The Launch event was concluded with a set of recommendations to governments aimed at attaining the fullest implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2250 and the SDG16 from a Sierra Leonean youth perspective. Some of these key recommendations included:
- That there is need for forming an Inter-Agency Platform as an immediate post-launch structure that will lead the coordination of UNSCR 2250 at the national level.
- The urgent need for the Development of a National Program of Action that will serve as roadmap for the implementation of the Resolution.
- Active and continuous engagement of state and non-state actors to deliberately mainstream youth into their programing and implementations.
- Engaging young people to take the lead in preventing conflict and promoting peace in their respective communities.
- Constant and robust media engagement to raise awareness about the resolution.
Given Sierra Leone's youthful population, it is obvious that we cannot afford to miss the opportunity of leaving youth behind in patters of peacebuilding and their empowerment while building their capacities for development.
"There can be nothing for us without us. On behalf of the young people of Sierra Leone and partners, we welcome the promises, but we urge government to fulfill them and do more", Musa Ansumana Soko concluded.
Read the Launch event report here.