Launch of the Network Youth and Culture of Peace

Libreville 13 December 2014 – “It is often said that youth is the future – but for me, youth is the present,” said the Director-General on 13 December in Libreville surrounded by 90 young African men and women, coming from forty countries for the Libreville Pan African Forum -- “African youth and the challenge of promoting a culture of peace”.

The Forum was held from 11 to 13 December in Gabon, with the participation of Pascaline Mferri Bongo Ondimba, Honorary President of the Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation, Ida Reteno Assonouet Minister of National Education and Technical and Vocational Education, President of UNESCO’s National Commission for Gabon, Anatole Collinet Makosso, Congolese Minister of Civic Education and President of the Conference of Ministers of the African Union responsible for youth, Rose Christiane OSSOUKA RAPONDA, Mayor of Libreville as well as Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy for peace and reconciliation.

The event was marked by the official launch of the “Youth and Culture of Peace” Network, made up of National Youth Councils and youth organizations from Africa and its Diaspora, engaged in actions aimed at promoting a culture of peace. Gabon will host its secretariat.

The Forum also celebrated the strengthening of the partnership with UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker’s Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation (WPDI), which aims to promote young people's ability to work for peace and development in their communities within fragile states. Forest Whitaker said to the young participants: "your generation is the one that will grow the seeds" of peace and prosperity, "the only limit you will encounter is your imagination."

The Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation for Peace, Science, Culture and the Environment also announced the creation of an international youth prize for the culture of peace that will reward the action of three youth organizations, who will share a total of 45 million CFA (nearly 85 000 USD).

In her opening remarks, Ms Bokova stressed that "Peace has a face, and that face is youth." She invited youth to support and spread the culture of peace, conflict prevention and non-violence. She also wanted to ensure the support of UNESCO for African youth in general, giving the example of the youth training partnership in ICT signed with Airtel Gabon as well as the Youth Med-Net project involving youth organizations of North Africa and the Mediterranean.

She praised the work of young people which began three months earlier on an online platform created by UNESCO with the support of the Foundation and Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon National Commission for UNESCO. Soon, the young people took ownership of the tool to discuss joint activities of their network and its organization. This preparatory work has mobilized more than 200 youth organizations from Africa and its Diaspora. The meeting of Libreville allowed online discussions to continue through a series of participatory and prospective work that enabled them to consider their long-term strategies. Through these innovations in the methods of work, young people were able to develop an action plan and a structure of the network that they will finalize in the coming months via the online platform. At the end of the Forum, a bureau of the network was elected with two delegates from each of the six regions of Africa region, including the Diaspora.

Young participants from the Network concluded the event by singing the song that guided their Forum: “War does not pay; peace wants our arms”.

 

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