UNESCO – From 11 to 13 December, Libreville will host the Pan-African Forum on “African youth and the challenge of promoting a culture of peace in Africa”. Jointly organized by the Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation and the Gabonese National Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with UNESCO, the Forum aims to launch a network of youth organizations working to spread the culture of peace in Africa through actions that foster dialogue, tolerance and social inclusion. Young people will be the focus during the three day Forum organized by, for and with the youth. 100 young people will come together, representing 45 youth organizations and national African youth councils. All regions of the continent will be represented, including the diaspora. To ensure that the participants enjoy maximum independence and initiative, three months ago UNESCO put in place an online platform that allowed them to understand the stakes at hand.pan-african

Through this platform, youth representatives compared theirs views and expressed their ambitions for this network that they are currently developing on their own. They will later arrive in Libreville, prepared to finalize their work during the first two days of discussions devoted to strategic foresight and based on participatory methods. These approaches will allow them to envisage their actions for the culture of peace in light of the future –a future where they can have a pivotal role in Africa and beyond.

After these first two days, the youth participants will meet partners in their network. First, during the official opening ceremony scheduled for 13 December, they will present the results of their work to their official supporters, the African Union, the Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation, the government of Gabon and UNESCO, represented by the Director General Irina Bokova. Afterwards, the participants will meet a group of potential partners with whom they could take concrete action in the field. UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker, will be one of the speakers. He will notably present a strengthened partnership project between UNESCO and his foundation, the Whitaker Peace and Development Initative (WPDI). Focusing on youth from fragile states, this collaboration aims to train young people in mediation, new technologies and social entrepreneurship; this enables youth to promote peace and sustainable development in their communities. The Forum will close with the designation ceremony of Pierre-Claver Akendengué, singer, musician and Gabonese poet, as a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He will perform a concert, with the aim of strengthening youth momentum towards a culture of peace for the future of Africa.

By mobilizing African youth to build the culture of peace, this Pan-African Forum aims to realize a certain number of ambitions that have emerged in recent years in Africa, both for peace and for youth. First, it will contribute to the Plan of Action for a Culture of Peace in Africa and the campaign “Make Peace Happen”. Both were launched following the conclusions and recommendations of the Pan-African Forum “Africa: Sources and resources for a culture of peace”, which was held in March 2013 in Luanda (Angola), co-organized by the government of Angola, the African Union and UNESCO. The Forum will also be an opportunity to once again call for the ratification of the African Youth Charter by all African Union Member States to accelerate the implementation of the Plan of Action for the African Youth Decade (2009-2018).