A two-day National Youth Peace Building Conference organized by Accountability Lab Liberia in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy here, United Nations Country Team and the Government of Liberia has ended in Monrovia with a pledge by young Liberians to remain ambassadors of change in supportive of a peaceful political transition in the country.
According to a press release dated April 28, the young Liberians promised never to allow themselves to be used as instruments of destruction and violence, noting that the international community has invested immense human and material resources over the years and they will do nothing to derail the current peace.
Speaking on peace roadmaps developed for the country, they promised, among others, to engage in intensive social media campaign and networking, using Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to educate their peers on the dividends of a peaceful Liberia.
The release also says the 200 participants selected from all 15 counties, further pledged to change the course of history by engaging in productive ventures such as agriculture and small business enterprises to address problem of unemployment and poverty that affects young people around the world. They also vowed: “We will advocate and serve as champions of accountability and transparency to ensure that public resources and public monies are use solely for human and infrastructural development”.
They also pledged not to allow their ranks to be infiltrated by political parties and politicians to spread messages of hate, and that they will refuse to engage in pre-electoral or post-electoral violence which has the potential to undo the gains and progress that has been made over the last 14 years.
In separate statements, the Director of the Department for Africa at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), Mr. Torbjörn Pettersson, said the commitments exhibited by the young Liberians demonstrates their willingness to change the course of history and urged them to use their energy for the good of the country. He extended special thanks to Accountability Lab Liberia and the other partners for the excellent organization of the conference.
President Ellen Johnson Serlief, who earlier declared the conference opened, said the forum provided the opportunity for the young people to exchange views on strategies to arrest financial indiscipline, lack of transparency and accountability in the governance system. “Judging by Liberia’s past; transparency, accountability, honesty and sincerity has been eroded. I welcomed and commend the Liberian-born Super Star Joseph Van Vicker as well as Accountability Lab-Liberia and partners for organizing the conference”, President Sirlea noted.
Liberia’s Youth and Sports Minister, Charles Saa N’Tow, who spoke at the closing ceremony said, history has been made by the commitment demonstrated by the young people over the two days, saying , “The intense engagement in the discussions in the five Work Labs is indicative that young people are beginning to find their niche in the body politics of Liberia”.
He described the Work Lab concept as pioneering because it allows for cross examination of innovative ideas that can be tested and nurtured for the good of society, and hoped that the National Youth Peace Building Conference will be held annually to continue the engagement and give young people a voice in the governance of the country.
Conversations in the five Work Labs were facilitated by motivational speakers and expert facilitators from both Liberia and Sweden, including former Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Lena Nordstrom, Paynesville City Mayor, Cyvette Gibson, and Ms. Gwendolyn Myers, among others.