The Minister of Youth and Sports, D. Zeogar Wilson says, continuous engagement of young people in the areas of violence and peacebuilding is critical to their participation in democratic advancement.
Minister Wilson notes that young people between ages 15 and35, account for Sixty-five (65) percent of Liberia’s population, stressing the important role they have in ensuring successful electoral processes and development of the country.
According to a dispatch from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations, the Youth and Sports Minister was responding to a question of youth participation in the electoral and overall democratic process in Liberia, as part of a roundtable discussion at the 2019 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, America.
The Roundtable was held on the topic, “Youth 2030: Working With and For Youth” with spotlight on six (6) of the Sustainable Development Goals that will be reviewed at a High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2019 and the September Sustainable Development Goals summit. Discussions at the just ended 8th ECOSOC Youth Forum are expected to feed into both conferences.
The Eighth (8th) Economic and Social Council Youth Forum was convened from April 8-9, 2019 under the theme “Empowered, Included and Equal”, with youth delegates and governments sharing ideas for ensuring that the benefits of a globalized world — from technological advancement and better connectivity to increased flows of people, finance and goods — unleash the potential of its 1.2 billion young people.
Says Minister Wilson: “Young people are a critical voting bloc and often, whether our electoral processes are peaceful or not depends on how they perceive the electoral process and what they do. Therefore, the efforts of Government, our partners and civil society have been largely geared towards increasing the participation and leadership of the youth in electoral peace building processes in Liberia”.
He recalls that young people from the youth wings of political parties and across Liberia actively participated in the historic 2017 electoral process–mobilizing and registering voters, as well as preventing violence through the sharing of anti-violence messages in their communities.
He also highlights the role of the ‘Youth Peace Committees’; groups of young people in Montserrado County who work with the government to identify, report, and help resolve threats to peace in their communities.
“The Youth Peace Committees serve as watchdogs and frontline problem solvers in the communities. They provide early warning signals of threats to peace generally and seek to resolve the issues”. Minister Wilson adds.
The 2019 Forum provided a platform for young leaders from around the world to dialogue among themselves, and with United Nations Member States, sharing ideas for advancing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, respectively. Dispatch