Building peace in the minds of men and women

“Peace has a face, and that face is youth” said Irina Bokova in Gabon at the launch of the Pan African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace

Libreville 13 December 2014 – “It is often said that youth is the future – but for me, youth is the present,” said the Director-General on 13 December in Libreville surrounded by 90 young African men and women, coming from forty countries for the Libreville Pan African Forum -- “African youth and the challenge of promoting a culture of peace”.

The Forum was held from 11 to 13 December in Gabon, with the participation of Pascaline Mferri Bongo Ondimba, President of the Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation, Ida Reteno Assonouet, Minister of Education of Gabon, Anatole Collinet Makosso, Congolese Minister of Civic Education and President of the Conference of Ministers of the African Union responsible for youth, as well as UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker.

The event was marked by the official launch of the “Youth and Culture of Peace” Network, for which Gabon will host the Secretariat. This network will be made up of National Youth Councils and youth organizations from Africa and its Diaspora, engaged in actions aimed at promoting a culture of peace. The Forum also celebrated the strengthening of the partnership with UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker’s Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, which aims to promote young people's ability to work for peace and development in their communities within fragile states.

The Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation for Peace, Science, Culture and the Environment also announced the creation of an international youth prize for the culture of peace that will reward the action of three youth organizations, who will share a total of 45 million CFA (nearly 85 000 USD).

The Forum has also helped promote the diversity of cultural traditions of the participating countries during the 2 days of work.

Forest Whitaker said to the young participants: "your generation is the one that will grow the seeds" of peace and prosperity, "the only limit you will encounter is your imagination."

The Forum reaffirmed the commitment of African youth to support and spread the culture of peace, conflict prevention and non-violence.

The Director-General welcomed the work of the young participants, the Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation, the Gabonese National Commission for UNESCO and the 200 youth organizations from Africa and the Diaspora associated to the Network.

The meeting in Libreville also allowed for the consideration of a long-term strategy. Young participants from the Network concluded the event by singing the song that guided their Forum: “War does not pay; peace wants our arms”.