30 July 2021, Accra
In an effort to increase meaningful participation of youth in governance and peace processes, The ECOWAS Commission hosted a Regional Training of Trainers Workshop on Youth for Peace and Security from the 27th to 30th of July 2021, in Accra- Ghana.
The workshop was organised in collaboration with the African Union Youth4Peace program, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and the United Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data project II (USAID REWARD II). Additional technical and financial support was provided by the GIZ-ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) project, co-financed by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
At the opening of the workshop, Dr. Onyinye Onwuka, Head of ECOWAS Mediation and Coordination of Regional Political Affairs Division on behalf of the Director of Political Affairs, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the strategic and technical partners who have made this initiative possible. She further reiterated the purpose of the workshop which aimed at building and enhancing the capacities of a select group of youth representatives to become trainers and in this way contribute actively, constructively and most importantly positively to the attainment of a peaceful and secure West Africa.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Bernard H. Basason, Technical Advisor Early Warning and Mediation for the GIZ EPSAO Project commended the various efforts of the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with AU, WANEP, USAID REWARD II, to support the amplification of the voices and contributions of youth to the regional conflict prevention and peacebuilding agenda. He re-affirmed GIZ’s continued support to the ECOWAS Commission towards the further implementation of the conflict prevention framework wherein which youth empowerment is recognized as an important theme.
Mrs. Ina Pisalru (USAID-REWARD) in her goodwill message commended the ECOWAS Directorate of Political Affairs for this initiative. She stated that, empowering youth with skills in conflict prevention and peacebuilding has the potential to harness the positive energy of the West African youth for a more effective development.
Dr. Chukwuemeka Eze, Executive Director, of WANEP expressed his deepest appreciation to ECOWAS and the GIZ EPSAO Project for the continuous collaboration and hoped that the workshop would provide the platform for the harvesting of low hanging fruits to enhance youth contribution to conflict prevention and peacebuilding in West Africa.
It will be recalled that in September and October 2019, the Directorate of Political Affairs and the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, in collaboration with the African Union Youth for Peace Program, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding and the German International Development Corporation organized National Youth Dialogues in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
The National Dialogues, which were attended by youth across both Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire respectively, aimed at encouraging the youth to conceptualise strategies through which they could foster a peaceful and secure future that they desired and deserved. The Dialogues also sought to contribute to advocacy efforts for the development and adoption of National Action Plans (NAPs) on Youth, Peace and Security. Following the success of the National Dialogues, and in support of the further roll out of dialogues in other Member States, the ECOWAS Commission organised this regional workshop in Accra, Ghana for representatives of youth organisations in Member States to provide them with the necessary orientation, knowledge and capacity to in turn organise and convene their own national dialogue sessions around the meaningful participation of youth in governance and peace processes. This to the ends of strengthening national ownership and ensuring the domestication of the youth, peace and security agenda at the national level. Furthermore, the workshop sought to create a platform for youth dialogue on regional issues, to create awareness on digital literacy and disinformation and impact on peace and security and serve as a platform for good practices in peacebuilding and conflict management among West African youths. At the end of the workshop the Youth presented a position paper with key recommendations as follows:
To the Governments of Member States:
§ Encourage ECOWAS Member States to implement the continental and regional frameworks on youth, peace and security;
§ Invite Member States to develop national action plans for the implementation of Resolution 2250 and ensure the inclusion of youth (men and women) in state mediation and reconciliation processes at community and national levels;
§ Urge the promotion of co-leadership and co-design of community conflict prevention and management policies and initiatives;
§ Encourage improved budgeting for youth empowerment and resilience;
§ Call on Member States to promote education for peace, citizenship and civic mindedness in educational systems.
To the youth of the Member States:
Encourage employability and entrepreneurship among youth;
Call on young people to promote literacy initiatives and digital solutions in response to major challenges including education, peace, security, health and others
To appropriate and disseminate national and international texts in favour of youth for more results and impact in their interventions;
Actively engage in governance at the community and national levels by promoting human and social values such as patriotism, respect, tolerance, solidarity and inter and intra youth dialogue;
Build political and economic social skills and capacity to facilitate their meaningful and impactful interventions on peace and nation building
Develop advocacy and lobbying strategies as well as a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for youth initiatives in order to change the image of youth.
Initiate and coordinate youth initiatives for synergy of action.