Cameroon is currently being rocked by waves of attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in her northern region, while the English speaking North West and South West Regions are witnessing social upheavals since November 2016, complaining about marginalization and assimilation by the Francophone majority. Youths have been mute and absent in the peace building process of these conflicts. This, in total ignorance of UNSC Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, adopted on 9 December 2015, which acknowledges the urgent need to engage young peacebuilders in promoting peace and countering extremism.
Against this backdrop, UNIC Yaounde organized a one-day training workshop for youth leaders on “Youth, Peace and Development”, in partnership with “Promise Africa” and the “Organization of African Youth for Peace (OAYP)” on Thursday April 13, 2017. The objective was to build the skills of youths on the fundamentals of peace consolidation, conflict prevention and crisis management, and engage them in the peacebuilding process.
UNIC’s Jean Njita emphasized the correlation between peace and Development, emphasizing Kant’s perpetual peace to Galtung’s negative and positive peace, presenting the history of Development through Rostow’s “stages of economic growth”, the 1992 Rio Earth summit, to the MDGs and SDGs. Focus was on SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, for “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no genuine peace without sustainable development.
The high rate of youth unemployment in Cameroon (about 6.7% in 2013, according to ILO), was identified as the reason for the high involvement of youths in conflicts, and political authorities were called upon to exercise good governance, for poor employability will eventuality lead to more conflicts. UNSCR 2250 was highlighted as a major instrument to mobilize youths in peace and Development activities as young peacebuilders, for it brings recognition and legitimacy for youth’s efforts in building peace. While Education, public awareness, youths training are pre-requisites for a durable peace building, genuine mediation can be a catalyst in reconciling and healing post conflicts societies. One participant called on youths to “bury their egoism, be tolerant, and accept different viewpoints for peace to thrive in their hearts…for today’s youths are too proud”
Participants acknowledged that youths have a role to play in conflict resolution, and should thus get involved. They were encouraged to use social media to transmit messages of love and reconciliation, to rebuild broken homes, and their society. Just as war is waged, Cameroonian youths should also ‘wage peace’ by making peace a full time activity. NGOs and associations advocating for Peace were urged to network for better coordination and greater impact of activities on the field. At the end, testimonials were handed to all participants.