The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ Young Peacebuilders in West Africa workshop officially kicked off on Monday, 21 November, in Abuja, Nigeria at the Hawthorn Suites Hotel. The programme hosts 20 inspiring young leaders aged 18-25 years old selected from a competitive pool of 500 applicants from the region.
During the opening session, Ms. Florence Iheme, Head of the Mediation and Facilitation Division at the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), welcomed the participants to Nigeria. Ms. Iheme presented the work of ECOWAS in the areas of peace and security, mediation and facilitation, and shared examples of programming in which young people can engage. She highlighted that through this programming, ECOWAS, like UNAOC, encourages West Africans to leverage their diversity rather than experiencing it as a problem.
The one-week workshop is the second phase of the 4-month programme. First, participants engaged online for seven weeks, completing a preparatory curriculum. Following this interactive workshop that is focused on transforming conflict and narratives, participants will apply the learning and action plans developed during the week at the community level.
“We share a responsibility to build sustainable peace. The time is now, let’s speak up and stand for peace”, says Onyekachukwu Ugwu. Ugwu, from Nigeria, is committed to using research, advocacy and education to build sustainable peace. He is one of the 20 participants who are in the initial stages of their peacebuilding career and are affiliated with youth-led and youth-focused organizations.
Since its inception, UNAOC has placed a special focus on young people by creating platforms to engage and help empower them in their efforts to build more tolerant, and more peaceful, societies. Through UNAOC initiatives, thousands of young people in over 150 countries have gained valuable skills to help strengthen their work.
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