Forest Whitaker to call for enhanced youth empowerment in South Sudan


Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, is participating at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in a side-event on “A collective approach to safeguarding peace and human rights in South Sudan” on 8 March 2019.  

The side-event will be an opportunity for him to advocate for more proactive and participatory approaches to youth empowerment and leadership. In line with UNESCO’s Strategy on Youth, he will call international actors to provide youth with tools and resources so they can become partners in the promotion of human rights, dialogue, peace and sustainable development in their communities.

At the invitation of Interpeace, a Geneva-based peacebuilding international organization, Mr Whitaker will showcase the work he has been conducting in the country for the past six years through his foundation, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI). He will be joined by Magdalena Nandege, one of the young talent that WPDI trained in the Equatorias region of South Sudan, who is now regarded as an exceptional and respected peacemaker in her State.

The event will take place at a critical juncture, as South Sudanese leaders just signed a peace agreement that now needs to translate into concrete steps at the civil society level. Mr Whitaker’s intervention will also take place in a context where the UN Security Council urges the international community to better recognize the role youth can play in conflict prevention and resolution (see its Resolution 2419 on the matter).

Ms Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, will be sharing the floor with Mr Whitaker, under the moderation of Mr Scott Weber, President of Interpeace.

Following his intervention at the Human Rights Council, Mr. Whitaker will participate, on the next day, in a debate on South Sudan at the Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), one of the world's largest event dedicated to cinema and human rights.