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Young peace-builders break language barrier
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Young peace-builders break language barrier

When the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network realised that young people who speak Kiswahili could not access a historic international policy document to guide grassroots peace and security efforts, they decided to do something about it. Promise Forsuh, a 23-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon tells us why they took action and how they are making a difference.

Imagine being a young person in Kenya with a vital role to play in peace-building and security but you have no access to a historic United Nations policy document which should be guiding not just you but everyone including politicians and policymakers working for peace and security.

This was exactly what happened to many young people in East Africa who speak Kiswahili . They could not access the information in the groundbreaking United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 (UNSCR2250) because of a language barrier.The resolution was available in English, Spanish and French but not in Kiswahili.

The historic UNSCR2250 resolution recognises the vital role young people across the globe play in resolving conflicts and building peace. It directs policy makers to pay attention to the participation and protection of young people and partner with them in peace-building efforts; and also to focus on the disengagement and reintegration of young people in armed conflict.

The Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) decided that it was important to translate this groundbreaking resolution so that young people and community groups in Kiswahili speaking countries would be apprised of this international policy at the grassroots level.

There are over 16 million people who speak Kiswahili, a lingua franca in the Great Lakes region of Africa which includes Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi and the Comoro Islands.

The project kicked off in 2018 was completed recently. The team of ten which worked on it had intended to translate the entire resolution, however, because of limited resources it was scaled down to the infographic covering the main pillars of UNSCR2250.

The translation is now being used by the East African Youth Empowerment Forum and a number of other youth peacebuilding organizations.

“Young people in Kenya who speak Kiswahili can now be informed and involved in decision making, at all levels,” said Christine Odera, the CYPAN Country Coordinator who led the project.

She added that at the regional level.,” the Kiswahili translation has been ensuring that young people in East Africa access the resolution and are engaging one another in shaping better peace and security outcomes in the region.”

Christine Odera, CYPAN Country Coordinator, Kenya

Winner of the 2018 Luxembourg Peace Prize, Achaleke Christian Leke has called the translation a dream come true, noting that, “Many young people in East Africa expressed the need for the localization of the resolution and today thanks to the committed young peace builders we have the infographic translated version.”

Apart from spearheading this translation, CYPAN has also been facilitating the sharing of best practices in peace-building between English speaking and Kiswahili speaking young people in the Commonwealth.

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Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) brings together young people from across the Commonwealth to upscale and optimise grassroots, national, regional and Pan-Commonwealth efforts to promote peace, respect & understanding and preventing violent extremism. CYPAN aims at fostering collaboration between members and creates space for policy advocacy as it relates to peace and countering violent extremism. 

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About Promise Forsuh: I am a graduate with a first degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from National Polytechnic University Institute Bamenda. My ambition is to become a celebrity journalist or a great Public and International Relations Practitioner. I am interested in writing for both print and broadcast, not only doing journalistic writing but fiction as well. Presently, I work as a volunteer for SOPECAM as a journalist in my country.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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