By Christine Odera, CYPAN member
The Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) is poised to strengthen and optimise grassroots, national, regional and pan-Commonwealth youth participation in promoting sustainable peace and countering violent extremism. The CYPAN Kenya network in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) Kenya, joined hands in coordinating a side event at the International Youth Action Against Terrorism conference in Nairobi.
“One of the key drivers of conflict in Kenya is the dimension of community identities which is itself closely related to the issue of land, borders and associated historical grievances, plus a challenging regional environment and political transition,” said Kisuke Ndiku, a Kenyan peace advocate. Kenya CYPAN Coordinator, Colins Togom, also emphasised the need for young people to take action to correct negative extremist vices in the society .
Saji Prelis, co-Chair of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Youth and Peace-building, discussed two tools used by international organisations to promote youth inclusion in peace-building processes, namely, as potential investors and business partners, and as a vital avenue to address conflict through government support.
He noted, “Governments have failed to fulfil its pledges to young people, and this failure to integrate young people’s needs in public policies heightens violence.”
With the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 in December 2015, countries are urged to consider establishing mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes. According to CYPAN member Christine Odera, the adoption of this resolution, considered the first of its kind, will ensure and provide a platform for the recognition of youth efforts in peace building.
Another keynote speaker, Faith Manthi, a Vice Chair of the CYC, detailed the network’s vision and mission, as well as its agenda on peace-building. “Investing in young people, and involving them in policy-making and implementation is the way to go for inclusiveness,” she said.
The event ended with a Q&A session in which the need to combat political extremism in the run-up to Kenya’s 2017 election was highlighted. Participants were also able to make pledges, individually and within their organisations, to demonstrate that they would work towards a peaceful poll.
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