Ban Ki-moon Centre co-hosts a peace talk with the WEP Asia fellows from Afghanistan

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and the Women in International Security (WIIS) Austria co-hosted an event titled “A Long Road to Peace: Realities, Hopes, and Visions from Afghanistan” in Vienna, Austria on October 8th, 2019. The WEP Asia fellows participated in the event, especially those from Afghanistan featuring as speakers.

Naeem Poyesh, Deputy Head and Counselor of the Embassy and Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Vienna, pointed out some of the main problems of the peace process in Afghanistan.

“There are many actors, but they have different goals,” said Poyesh.

He also addressed the issue of gender inequality in the peace process as women in Afghanistan society are rather expected to stay home.

Poyesh emphasized that

“we should seek peace” and that “we should not follow the seasonal policies based on elections and relationships,”

Viola Christian, Coordinator of the Women’s Empowerment Program, introduced to the gathered crowd the mission and the work of the Ban Ki-moon Centre as well as the WEP Asia fellows from Afghanistan, who came up to the stage to present their stories.

Laleh Rahimi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan suggested solutions for the challenges faced in Afghanistan:

 

  1. All segments of society and people should jump into solving the challenges with common goals and unity.
  2. Afghanistan needs help and cooperation from the international community.
  3. “Educating women is so important!

“We have to raise our voices,” said Sohalia Rezaee, co-founder of the Afghanistan Youth Empowerment and Peace Building Organization (AYEPO).

She shared her story about being an Afghan refugee in Iran as well as other challenges she has faced as a young woman in her country after she returned. She was denied to go to school, asked to get married in early age, and lost her best friend during an attack.

In order for her to empower herself as well as other young women in her society, she established AYEPO and taught female students in high school age “leadership, personal skills and peacebuilding skills.”

The event also hosted a panel which was moderated by Professor Ebrahim Afsah of the University of Vienna and consisted of:

  • Farida Amiri, Founder of Peace Friends
  • Munira Aziz, European Union Delegation, Afghanistan
  • Hooria Sardarzaada, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Afghanistan

Amiri shared her experience as a young female entrepreneur peace-builder and pointed out that it is difficult for young people and women “to take part in the decision-making process.”

She said, “our views, concerns, and commitments have to be showed to the international community and included at the table.”

Professor Afsah asked the panel,

“What is the role of international actors?”

Aziz responded with the importance of sustainability and accessibility:

“The support of the international community is crucial to build sustainable peace” she said, “the international community plays an essential role in including the remote areas and the marginalized communities.”

When Professor Afsah asked the panel about the role of private initiatives, Sardarzaada answered:

“It should be localized.”

“Education is the key.”

She said that “the Afghan government should speak on behalf of us and “work in unity” with the private sector and its allies and partners.

After the panel discussion, a number of the participants stayed longer to have a deeper conversation with the speakers and to have their questions answered regarding the peace-building process and women’s empowerment.

© BKMC / Eugenie Berger

 

“Partnering with Young People for Prevention: Sustaining Peace and Addressing Violence, Crime and Corruption”

On June 12th, 2019, the 49th IPI Vienna Seminar took place at the Federal Ministry of Austria for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA) in Vienna, focusing on the role of young people as agents of peace and social change at the global, regional, national and local level.

Welcome remarks were delivered by Karin Proidl, Director of International Organizations at the BMEIA and Adam Lupel, Vice President of the International Peace Institute (IPI), who stressed the importance of cooperating with youth for addressing violence, crime and corruption and promoting peace.

“We need to give young people face from different levels and make their voices heard,” said BKMC CEO Monika Froehler at the first session on “The United Nations in Vienna: 40 years of Promoting Peace and Security.”

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), our world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. Out of these, Froehler mentioned, “408 million young people live in conflict zones.” In addition, within this generation are 600 million adolescent girls with specific needs, challenges and aspirations for the future. Froehler rightly pointed out that gender inequality adds to the barrier for youth in participating in peace-building process, which is why empowering both women and young people is equally important.

“We cannot achieve sustainable peace if young generation is not included,” said Samuel Goda, Special Representative of the OSCE CiO Special Representatives on Youth and Security, at his keynote. As a youth representative, he stressed “young people need to have ownership” in tackling global issues.

A number of other youth representatives from different sectors spoke at the seminar, including Nour Barakeh who is Collaborator of SDG 5 Thrive! and Suad Mohamed who serves at the Austrian Red Cross and Diakonie Refugee Service.

Froehler introduced active youth activists such as the UN Youth Envoy as well as existing youth initiatives such as the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) to support and partner with them. She also strongly recommended a book titled We are Here.

Learn more about the seminar: https://www.ipinst.org/…/IPI-Vienna-Seminar-2019_Agenda_Par…
Source: https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/EN-SWOP14-Report_FINAL-web.pdf
Outcome report and pictures: https://www.ipinst.org/2019/06/49th-ipi-vienna-seminar-partnering-with-young-people-for-prevention#3

The first “International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes” was successfully held!

The first “International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes” was held in Helsinki, Finland on March 5-6th where BKMC CEO Monika Froehler participated. The youth participants from all over the world openly discussed the improvements needed in the participation of youth in operational and political aspects to realize the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 (2015) and UNSCR 2419 (2018).

President of the United Nations General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa listened to the youth activists’ appeals and said that “young people need support as agents of change” and that “young people help to reform the UN.”

The participants actively shared critical thoughts on the status quo of the actions taken and changes made about the resolutions for youth. Discussing what still needs to be improved in terms of including youth in the peace process, the young peacebuilders presented recommendations for the policy change and how they can contribute.

“Let us say enough to the misconceptions that have allowed young people’s capabilities and capacities for peacebuilding and sustaining peace to go unrecognized and undervalued,” said Wickramanayake.

Under the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the governments of Qatar and Colombia, the event was organized by the UNSG’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake and Search for Common Ground in partnership with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY).

“Build frameworks to engage youth in the way society is ruled and run. Inclusion is the name of the game,” said Colombian Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo of Foreign Affairs at the symposium.

This symposium brought in lots of positive energy and strengthened bridges between the aspiring young leaders and the world leaders from different sectors and from different parts of the world. BKMC CEO Froehler expressed that lots of enthusiasm was evident during the symposium for “shining a light on youth participation in peace processes.”

Froehler emphasized that “the light gets stronger when we are shining together.”

Watch the livestreamed video of the symposium here: https://formin.videosync.fi/youth-participation-in-peace-processes

Photo by: Nikke Puskala