Reconciliation, diversity and tolerance on the agenda at youth conference in Liberia

Young people have a key role in Liberia’s development, with more than half of the population consisting of people under 20. For the first time ever a national youth conference was carried out in late April, where current challenges for young people were discussed. The focus was on peace-building.

The conference took place in Paynesville, outside the Liberian capital Monrovia, and gathered more than 200 young people from all of Liberia’s 15 counties. The Liberian organization Accountability Lab organized the event, in co-operation with the Swedish Embassy and UN in Liberia. Earlier this year FBA hosted a meeting in Stockholm where some of the Liberian youth leaders prepared the conference together with representatives from civil society organizations from Sweden, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

One of the workshops focused on reconciliation, diversity and tolerance. 26-year old Jamaima Autie Kollie, who was among the participants, emphasizes that these questions are important as elections are approaching.

– I really liked how we discussed “the real thing”, and talked about challenges and tried to find solutions. If you are a Congo or a Bassa or a Kpelle, it does not matter – we have to be tolerant.

Jamaima Autie Kollie is engaged in a national network with young people, Young Ambassadors for Peace. She sees the conference as a great opportunity and has many thoughts on how to proceed with the work back in her home town Ganta – one of Liberia’s main cities placed on the border to Guinea.

– Instead of just waiting for something to happen, I feel we need to talk about the situation and about the problems, she says.

When Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf inaugurated the conference she pointed out that such a broad coalition of young women and men from different backgrounds who had travelled from the whole country is unique.

The planning has been ongoing for over a year. The idea to have a conference emerged in a breakfast club for Liberian youth leaders on the rise initiated by the former Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Lena Nordström. As one of the inspirational speakers at the conference she called attention to the youths’ inherent power, creativity and ability to think in new ways.

Lena Nordström is also one of Foreign Minister Margot Wallström’s Special Representatives for inclusive peace processes and a member of the Swedish mediation network for women. FBA facilitates the mediation network, aimed at increasing the number of women that participate in peace processes, on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Lisa Ljungström, Project Manager for FBA’s strategy assignment in Liberia, participated in the youth conference. She explains that the youths now have a common assignment to lead Liberia forward.
– Discussions resulted in several concrete suggestions on how young people can contribute to a positive development in Liberia.

Young people are one of the target groups identified in FBA’s strategy assignment in Liberia and support regarding issues about reconciliation and conflict prevention is a focus area. In addition, FBA has an assignment connected to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. The resolution, adopted in 2015, stresses the representation of youth in decision making.

The dialogue with young people is important for many reasons. Active participation by youths is central when Liberia will hold elections in less than six months, both to include them in the democratic dialogue and to ensure that the elections can be performed without unrest.

Liberia has a violent history. The bloodstained civil war that went on for 14 years in total caused huge devastation and left the population with deep wounds. Since the peace agreement was signed in 2003 there have been great efforts to rebuild the country, with support from the international community. Liberia has come a long way, but much remains to deal with in order to make the country continue to develop in the right direction.

According to Lisa Ljungström peace-building is fundamental to reach a sustainable democratic development.
– The importance of acknowledging and strengthening the country’s future leadership cannot be overemphasized. The next generation of Liberians must be included in the creation of a mutual vision for the future, she says.

MORE FROM HOME

FBA contributes to the EU’s ability to respond to crises

The EU faces increasingly complex security threats. Sweden has pushed for efforts to strengthen the union’s civilian crisis management ability, and contributes extensively, through FBA among others, by training and sending experts to EU missions in various parts of the world. The aim is to prevent conflicts and increase respect for democratic principles, rule of law and international law. How to launch more flexible operations faster and adapt them to new threats is now under discussion.

2018-10-22 11:41

Read our publications

Image description

Una perspectiva de género en la construcción de la paz

This training manual has been developed to provide an introduction in Spanish to the policy framework on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) and its follow-up resolutions on women, peace and security.

Documents
Attributes
Author:
Gabriela Elroy
Year:
2018

IN THE FIELD

THE FBA BLOG

  • Posted by Anna Möller-Loswick

    Supporting women peace leaders: an investment in sustainable peace

    Women play vital roles in conflict resolution, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. They mediate conflicts at the local level, advocate for the needs and priorities of women to be addressed in official peace processes, and work tirelessly to build peace in their communities. Research shows that women’s direct participation in peace negotiations increases the durability and quality of peace. They can serve as brokers who connect women civil society networks at the local level to the official ... Read entire post »

    2018-08-23 14:19
  • Posted by Carl Fredrik Birkoff

    Cross-border cooperation between Ethiopia and Kenya for conflict prevention and peacebuilding

    Within the framework of the strategy for Sweden’s regional development cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa 2016-2021 FBA is expected to contribute to increased regional integration and strengthened capacity to address cross-border challenges and opportunities at regional levels. This assignment is very much in line with the innovative, comprehensive and integrated cross-border programme between Ethiopia and Kenya initiated by the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments, in partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations.

    During the ... Read entire post »

    2018-08-16 15:20
  • Posted by Ben Rhee

    Action for Peacekeeping: What role for the Challenges Forum?

    On March 28 this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the UN’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda. At the heart of the initiative lies an urgent call to mobilise support for peace operations, which are increasingly faced with a wide-array of complex challenges.

    Operating in some of the most difficult environments and intractable conflicts on the planet, UN and multilateral peace operations today are dealing with a host of issues and unrealistic expectations by the international community ... Read entire post »

    2018-07-11 10:11
Photo

Stefan Åström

Stefan Åström is expert on Latin America and disarmament of ex-combatants

More about our experts

Upcoming courses

Twitter