By KABS KANU :
The Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah has eloquently outlined the linkage between sustaining peace and development , with particular reference to the role of youths. Ambassador Sumah made the presentation during the Regional Dialogue on Sustaining Peace , held at the Ritz Carlton Sharq Village in Doha, State of Qatar on Thursday January 18, 2018 .
Ambassador Sumah was among permanent representatives, ambassadors, diplomats and stakeholders invited to Qatar to discuss many topics related to the effects of conflicts and civil wars on stability and peace efforts with an emphasis on the importance of finding political settlements for conflicts and the relation between development and sustainable peace.
There were six sessions in all at the Dialogue. After the registration of participants, the presenters and overall moderators Ms. Susan Cliffe, Director of the Centre For International Cooperation ( CIC ), New York University ( Sierra Leone partners with them on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals —Promote Peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development , promote access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels ) and Dr. Sultan Barakat , Founding Director of the Centre for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies , Doha , challenged participants “to strive to generate concrete , operational deliverables and actionable way forward to sustaining peace in the region and beyond .”
Participants were also given an overview/ update of current UN Reform Initiatives impacting on sustaining peace by H.E. Mr. Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, the PR of Mexico and Chair of the Group of Friends on Sustaining Peace and Mr. Tegeg nework Gettu, of the Brookings Doha Centre.
The first session was on Platforms and Processes for sustaining peace. The second session dealt with the linkages between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace, while the third session was conducted around the topic : Sustaining Peace and the Prevention of Conflict. In the fourth session, participants dealt with the topic : Mediation For Peace : A key tool for Prevention and Peacemaking while the topic for the fifth session was Emerging threats : The Dark side of innovation . The Sixth session was on Financing for Peace and then the conclusion, with the topic : Building Sustainable Peace Regionally.
Ambassador Sumah contributed to the Second Session of the Dialogue , which dealt with LINKAGES BETWEEN THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINING PEACE. Contributors were to consider how to increase resilience while reducing the levels of conflict; National ownership and sovereignty; Equality of opportunity – access to services, inclusivity, participation in political and economic services; the roles of youth and women in sustaining peace and development, etc.etc.
The Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Sumah, spoke on the topic : “Role of youth in peacebuilding efforts critical for establishing sustainable peace and a prerequisite for development. ”
Ambassador Sumah told the gathering that the youth are often the centre of attraction for various reasons in fueling conflict. According to him, conflicts are often triggered by the failure of the state in addressing youth-related developmental and governance issues. He stated that in conflict and post-conflict situations, the youth are driven to take the law into their hands when they are being pushed to the wall –The state’s failure to listen to the concepts of youth unemployment, poverty (consequential to the inability of youth and/or their parents in financing education ) , marginalization in public life etc.
Ambassador Sumah suggested that for a viable peacebuilding process to have positive results on the ground, the involvement and mainstreaming the role and participation of the youth in achieving peace and security in a sustainable manner cannot be overemphasized.
Ambassador Sumah drew attention to another important fact on the issue of youth when he said that conflict is also driven and fueled by the employment and deployment of various variables in achieving the aims of warlords and political rivals , during which youth are in the main recruited by parties to the conflict.
Ambassador Sumah explained that the double jeopardy in effect is that the youth are caught in the mean of the conflict situation, viz -a-viz victims of state marginalization and the fueling of the conflict. Having seen both sides of the conflict, it calls for pragmatising and actualising the process of peacebuilding, Ambassador Sumah postulated. That space, he continued, is needed for the participation of youth in the processes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Ambassador Sumah’s input provided an important perspective about how the youth are used in conflict by competing forces and as a diplomat representing a post-conflict country at the UN, his suggestions about how to solve the problem went down well with participants and stakeholders at the program.