Messenger Peace-Liberia (MOP-Liberia) Executive Director, Miss Gwendolyn Myers, is encouraging the young people of Liberia to engage in civil dialogues instead of violence, as Liberia goes through its General and Presidential Elections.
Miss. Myers remarked at the start of a two-day Conflict Mitigation and Management Youth for Peace Activity- Peer-to-Peer Initiative, with various young people drawn from across Central Monrovia, Bushrod Island, Garndersville Township, and other environs of Montserrado County.
The project, which is a ‘Youth for Peace Activity (Y4P)’ is dubbed ‘Peace Buddies’ to help youths from disadvantaged backgrounds and conflict-affected and sensitive communities contribute to positive peace within their communities.
According to Miss. Myers, the project is a year-long activity of MOP-Liberia, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Catholic Relief Service (CRS).
Day one of the dialogue, which was held in the conference room of MOP-Liberia, brought together over 40 young people; while day two of the dialogue, which convened at the Gardnersville Town Hall brought together over 60 participants.
Executive Director Myers disclosed that the project which targets five counties, is being rolled out in Montserrado and Bong Counties initially, with a plan to also engage other conflict-affected and sensitive communities across the five counties.
She explained that the project is dubbed ‘Peace Buddies’ to give the participants and all young people the sense that despite their political differences, they are all Liberians and should work together to uphold peace in their communities and the country at large.
Miss Myers continued: “I call on all young people under our voices to be civil and engage in peaceful dialogues; everyone cannot be on the same side, especially during this political season, however, for peace’s sake, we can all coexist.”
She recalled that in 2015, she presented a paper at the United Nations General Assembly, for young people globally; calling on the UN to adopt a resolution that gives young people a role in conflict mitigation and management. Subsequently, as a result of her presentation, the UN unanimously adopted on 9 December 2015 in Jordan, Resolution 2250, which gives young people a role to play in the peace process.
Hence, the Y4P activity is a component of the UNSCR 2250, which is a landmark resolution urging Member States to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional, and international levels and to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes.
Also, Resolution 2419 of (2018) is the second resolution by the United Nations Security Council on youth, peace, and security and was unanimously adopted. It recognizes the positive role young people can play in negotiating and implementing peace agreements and conflict prevention.
UNSCR 2535: “recognizes that digital spaces provide innovative participatory opportunities for dialogue, accountability and transparency in decision-making, including in conflict-affected contexts, and at the same time, inequalities with regards to access to technology which remain widespread.
“Do not engage in violence because of your political leaning or affiliations, elections will soon come and pass, but we will all remain here as Liberian first and buddies, so there is a need to civilly disagree, but it should be done through peaceful dialogue,” Miss. Myers emphasized.
Days one and two of the engagement saw young people fully engaged in panel discussions on how to mitigate and resolve conflict. There was also filming of a documentary on the civil conflict in Liberia; with a caveat for all to stay away from anything that seeks to spark violence and lead to conflict.
At the close of the two-day event, participants from the two venues, in separate remarks, committed that with the lesson learned about conflict mitigation and management, they would work and serve as ambassadors in their various communities to encourage their peers to engage in civil political discussion rather than violence.
“We are grateful to MOP-Liberia, CRS, and USAID for such a great initiative because it has discouraged our minds from engaging in violence over dialogue,” Laurina Nyemah, a female participant, asserted.
Remarking on behalf of the partners, CRS Program Manager for Peace-building, Brezhnev Passawe, noted that his organization is involved with the identification of professional CSO institutions that are involve with peace initiative, as part of their USAID-supported Y4P activities, they hired the services of MOP-Liberia to amplify what they are doing across five of the fifteen counties across Liberia.
According to him, the project seeks to work with conflict-affected and marginalized groups, to denounce the act of violence thereby promoting the tendency of peace before, during and after the 2023 elections in Liberia.
Messengers of Peace-Liberia is a non-profit, and non-governmental youth organization, established in Liberia on September 17, 2008, to foster peace amongst the youth of Liberia through community engagement.