Launch of the reports on the Role of Young People in Preventing Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin, and the Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security
The Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa (CSDEA) in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with support from the Global Civil Society for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) and the European Union held a launch event to publicly present the reports of the Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, and the Role of Young People in Preventing Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin on the 22nd of March, 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
Both reports launched brought to the fore the positive roles both girls and boys play, and their achievements in bringing about sustainable peace in Nigeria and globally. The Global Study report in particular demonstrated how over 1.8 billion youth globally who have been mostly excluded from peacebuilding and development processes, are the missing peace if their resilience is tapped into and promoted.
Furthermore the event demonstrated how the reports are part of the initial efforts at implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace, and security, and how it is also linked to the International Dialogue for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) and its New Deal for engagement in conflict affected states, including the attainment of the SDGs in Nigeria.
The launch was attended by members of the Working Group on UNSCR 2250, members of the IDPS/New Deal Steering Committee, The Director General of the IPCR – Dr. Bakut Tswah Bakut,
The Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Offences Commission (ICPC) Chairman – Professor Bolaji Owasanoye who was represented by Honourable Hannatu Mohammed, a board member (Youth) of ICPC, the Executive Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa and CSPPS Representative for Nigeria – Theophilus Ekpon and the Chief of Army Staff who was represented by Brigadier General Omoigui among others. Several civil society organizations, development partners, and government ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Niger Delta were also represented.
In his opening remarks, Andy Nkemneme of the IPCR said that in order to effectively understand the role youth play in peace-building and security, “the UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security which was passed in December 2015 requests the Secretary-General to carry out Independent Progress Study to recommend effective responses at the local, national and international levels”. He further stated that in order to contribute to the progress study, the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa commissioned a study titled “the Role of Young People in Preventing Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin” to conduct field studies in Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to document the role of youth-led and youth-focused conflict and extremism prevention approaches that promote peace-building.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Dr. Bakut Tswah Bakut described how the IPCR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been collaborating with CSDEA and other stakeholders over the years to ensure that Nigeria becomes an official member of the IDPS and how the youth agenda and especially the launch of the reports will further strengthen that collaboration as the UNSCR 2250 is a key focus of the IDPS/New Deal implementation plan. He further assured participants that as an organization established by government to facilitate peace and resolve conflicts, IPCR would continue to be at the forefront of synergies for dialogues and especially in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the enabling environment for dealing with insurgency and all forms of violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin.
The Chairman of the occasion, Independent Corrupt Practices and Offences Commission (ICPC) Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by Honourable Hannatu Mohammed, a board member (Youth) of ICPC, commended the organizers and stakeholders for showing commitment to the prevention of violent extremism with a special focus on inclusivity and youth participation. He observed that “the existence of violent extremism has the capacity to influence corrupt practices and other related offences as the off-shoots of insecurity and violent extremism may leave young people jobless and impoverished to the extent to which they turn to the next seemingly attractive option which regrettably, may be corrupt practices”. The ICPC Chairman specifically congratulated the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa and the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding for organizing the launch of the reports and asked for more efforts in the drive to end violent extremism and emancipate the youth in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s veteran actor, producer and Nollywood star, Zack Amata was upbeat that concerted efforts, like the research and launch of the reports, were being done by committed individuals and organizations to bring about change and called for the adoption of music, drama and other forms of media for communication in disseminating information that could impact on the orientation of the youths towards positive attitudes that will engender peace, security and development. Amata noted that instead of the prevailing fake news, the social media; Facebook, Twitter, etc could be used to showcase the stuff the youth are made of and to highlight the consequences of negative vices.
Some of the recommendations of the report on the Role of Young People in Preventing Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin as presented included:
The International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDSPS) and other international actors should promote a soft approach policy to preventing violent Extremism.
The livelihoods of the at-risk youths and other vulnerable populations should be improved through greater focus on ‘hot spots’ and improved access to jobs, skills-building programmes and education, by strengthening and scaling up existing programmes.
Population control measures should be put in place in the Lake Chad Basin countries to accommodate the resources and intervention programmes of the rapidly increasing populations.
The capacity and levels of trust in the judicial system and the rule of law in these countries should be enhanced to effectively deal with radicalisation and violent extremism; which would balance law and order with justice and prison systems which could ultimately serve as centres for de-radicalization and reform.
There should be increased levels of disengagement and re-integration processes as well as psycho-social support and mentoring; good awareness of deradicalization processes and community sensitization to lower the stigmatization of repentant returnees.
Violent narratives should be discredited through counter-narratives diffusion using journalists/media platforms skilled and embedded in ethical reporting, and dialoguing with stakeholders.
Intra and inter-religious tensions and heightened community resilience of religious institutions should be lowered via mosques, churches, shrines, etc using well-trained Pastors, Imams and traditionalists.
Conscious and functional national youth policies should be implemented to the fullest, whilst volunteerism should be regarded by government as work experience, and young people should be encouraged to explore their interests and hobbies.
The content of education in Quranic schools which is the dominant form of education in the conflict-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin countries should be harmonized.
Human rights laws and policies that will protect citizens and repentant militants should be put in place to deter/stem arrest and extra-judicial killings.
The private sector should be encouraged to support youth PVE initiatives in the Lake Chad Basin countries. The study also revealed that there is little or no support from the private sector to these youth initiatives in these countries. Interestingly, funding from the private sector will tremendously strengthen and boost these initiatives.
Some of the recommendations of the Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security included:
Youths should not only be seen as leaders of tomorrow but of today, by involving them in decision making and implementation to prepare them for future leadership. Partnerships and collaborative action, where young people are viewed as equal and essential partners for peace must be prioritized.
Government/individuals should stop stereotyping the young people as perpetrators of violence but rather see them as the solution and “missing peace”.
It is critical to invest in young people’s capacities, agency and leadership through substantial funding support, network-building, and capacity-strengthening, recognizing the full diversity of youth and the way young people organize.
The systems that reinforce exclusion of youth must be transformed in order to address the structural barriers limiting youth participation in peace and security.
It was agreed by participants at the launch that a multi-stakeholders conference on the implementation of the reports and the broader UNSCR 2250 in Nigeria be held in April 2019.