Peace Palace

The Peacebuilding Project, winner of Carnegie Youth Peace Prize 2021 attends CSPPS Annual Conference 2022 in Berlin


The CSPPS Annual Conference
The Peacebuilding Project (PBP), a member of the Civil Society Platform for Statebuilding and Peacebuilding (CSPPS) network since 2019, was represented by Founder President Rhea Mahanta at the 2022 CSPPS Annual Conference in Berlin in May 2022. Under the theme ‘Safeguarding Peace, Shifting Priorities’, delegation members including the CSPPS Secretariat, Executive Committee and Core Group Members participated in a hybrid conference in Berlin and online, that allowed for in depth discussions and knowledge-sharing amongst CSPPS members and representatives from g7+, INCAF and GIZ.

Group discussions between the tripartite members of the IDPS – International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS, g7+, and INCAF) reflected on the implementation of the IDPS Peace Vision 2019-2021 including empowerment of youth actors for peace, response to the climate crisis, resource mobilization for civil society organizations, and enhancing civic space.

In a meeting with the head of department from BMZ (German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and GIZ representatives on 17 May, members of the CSPPS Delegation provided inputs on civil society’s view of security and the need for government representatives to bring back softer approaches in the context of Germany’s National Security Strategy. CSPPS members Valnora Edwin (African Women Leaders Network) and Jimmy Shilue (P4DP) also met with Member of Parliament Dr. Karamba Diaby at the Bundestag/German parliament to discuss pressing issues civil society is facing in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The delegation also provided inputs into the Berlin Statement, prepared on the basis of a consultation with the entire CSPPS membership reflecting on current geopolitical developments and their impacts on peacebuilding.

“Entitled to a Peaceful Future: Youth in Violent Conflict”
On 18 May, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Berlin held a panel discussion on ‘Youth in violent conflict’, with German Member of Parliament Nadja Sthamer, Peacebuilding Project Founder Rhea Mahanta, UNOY Co-Director Eliška Jelínková, and Professor at German Institute of Global and Area Studies Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach.

Opening the discussions, Dr. Kurtenbach outlined the perceptions of peace from young people based on her research in Colombia and Venezuela which is part of the PEACEptions-project with FES. Panelists highlighted how young people experience armed conflicts, the elements of peace, and possible ways to support and empower young peace promoters. There was acknowledgement of an increasing traction for a rights-based approach among youth, in that elements of peace also constitute ideas of justice, physical integrity, respect for human rights, freedom of speech and conflict transformation.

Youth Peace Ambassador of the Peace Palace Rhea Mahanta underscored that the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda at its core is about young people’s political agency and their role as political actors. Mahanta highlighted the barriers that refugee youth face preventing them from participating in conflict resolution process in their countries of origin, as well as in political participation in host countries. Unless national strategies address the fundamental drivers of conflict including poverty, unemployment, resources, and access to educational and economic opportunities, the conditions for youth to be able to participate and sustain their engagement will remain a challenge. The need to engage youth constituencies in defining country strategies/inclusive national policies, and peacebuilding processes that are reflective of their needs and aspirations was emphasized.

“The future needs peacebuilding: Alliances and prospects for peace in challenging times”
On May 19, 2022, the FriEnt Working Group on Peace and Development celebrated its 20th anniversary in Berlin’s “Wasserwerk” with a panel discussion on the possibilities and challenges for an active peace policy. Parliamentary State Secretary to BMZ Niels Annen, CSPPS Coordinator Peter van Sluijs and The Peacebuilding Project Founder Rhea Mahanta took part in the panel titled “Alliances and prospects for peace in challenging times”, set against the future of 2032. Executive Director of European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, Sonya Reines-Djivanides, framed the opening with a message from the future stating how German development policy has set important priorities and created interfaces for joint European initiatives for prevention and conflict awareness. Niels Annen gave an insight into current processes and priorities for supporting civil conflict management for peace and security in crisis and conflict contexts as part of the overall commitment of the Federal Government, stressing that civilian peace actors should represent their concerns actively and visibly in order to make themselves heard in the political process. Learning from the challenges of a ‘third pandemic’, Peter van Sluijs affirmed the need for holistic and integrated responses to global challenges, ample attention for peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and the critical need of safeguarding civic space.

Mahanta conveyed the need to view parties to a conflict as partners and allies in the form of people-to-people diplomacy, forging alliances with a wide range of fields including the corporate sector, financial institutions, and artists. Addressing the climate crisis, she opined that the way to avert the crisis was by bringing about a collective and structural change in institutional policies, instead of pinning the problem on individual responsibility; stating “Yes, we need to ‘stop using plastic straws’, but who is going to stop producing plastic straws?”, highlighting the need to hold both consumers and producers/ suppliers accountable for climate action.

In closing, Peter van Sluijs shared the main recommendation as included in the Berlin Statement with the audience that emphasized the importance of all relevant stakeholders to commit to these recommendations in aiming to prevent conflict and sustain peace, through dialogue with partners.

All in all, the Berlin conference was an opportunity for The Peacebuilding Project to share and learn from the experiences of peacebuilding with local and global actors. In addition to the Berlin Statement as a key outcome, the Conference was a platform for PBP to forge relations with diverse peacebuilder networks, device a coordinated way forward and contribute from a peacebuilding perspective to the development of the first German National Security Strategy. PBP is grateful to CSPPS, GIZ, FriEnt and FES for affording an opportunity to participate in international dialogues for strategizing and sustaining peace.

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