Eddy is a young activist who was born in Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. He worked as the President of the Eastern DR Congo Youth Parliament and campaigned tirelessly against the exploitation of Congolese children for political and military ends. He was forced to flee to Kenya after his life was threatened by the violent authority figures he tried to engage with.
Eddy experienced incredible hardships to guarantee that children had the right to a conflict-free upbringing. He wants to create a world where everyone’s fundamental human rights are respected.
Peace is a collective responsibility. Learn about Eddy’s story and read his message on conflict resolution below.
The modern world is becoming smaller, highly integrated and technologically advanced, but it is also becoming highly fragmented and less peaceful. Many countries are experiencing violence, declining values, injustices, and reduced respect for human rights.
Young people are an asset to their nations, but they are often abused and exploited. Because of their frontline positions in many conflicts, their input to any development program will go a long way in achieving desired objectives. Youth participation is absolutely essential to a country’s development.
There is no doubt that there is a huge need to create a culture of peace and a conflict free environment. This is where young people come in. We must be the change in the peace process.
Individual behavioural change
We can actively participate in ending conflicts by changing attitudes towards people, traditions, religions and beliefs. We must learn to combine our enthusiasm with patience, realizing the importance of living together and taking responsibility for peace in our communities.
We as young people must realise our capabilities by educating ourselves on the need for community leadership. We should take opportunities to prioritise leadership development programs, especially for people who live in rural areas.
Always look out for opportunities to engage in youth-focussed summits with One Young World, the Peace Maker Conference, International Youth Council and Happy4Life Youth Network.
Young people can play an active role in peace and conflict resolution by creating new initiatives or joining existing groups of peace missionaries and NGO networks in their areas. I created the Happy4Life International Network that empowers children to acknowledge their rights. I also created the Zero Child Campaign in 2011 to stop children being exploited in political paramilitary groups.
Crossing ethnic divisions
Young people from different ethnic groups can forge links between their peoples by sharing the common ground of values, culture and traditions that have been handed down for generations. The youths in the political arena of development can engage in political awareness building, reform bureaucracy to ensure good governance, accountability, transparency and citizenship. As Mr Kofi Annan said to us at the 2014 Summit in Dublin:
“You the young are amongst the most determined peacemakers and the most effective agents of reconciliation.. As the first truly global generation, you know better than anyone that cultural, religious and ethnic diversity can be a source of strength – not only a source of division.”
This is especially important in the many African countries that face constitutional problems. Elected officials often serve their own interests rather than those of their young populations. Last year we saw the youth of Burkina Faso overcome fear and campaign for freedom. We can all avoid political divisions and cultural difference and follow in the footsteps of African freedom fighter like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Julius Nyerere.
Today’s youth, and future generations, must recognise their role in peace processes across the continent. Paramilitary groups specifically recruit young people as disposable weapons to target and kill their opponents. There are around 250,000 child soldiers around the world today. Many of them are from conflict zones and are forced to fight in local militias. 40% of them are girls, who may be trafficked into sexual slavery.
These children must be able to follow their true destiny, their ambitions and what they believe in – all the while remembering that they are the people who are responsible for building a peaceful Africa and a peaceful world.
On an international level
Young people can become peace ambassadors for their respective countries, promoting exchange programs in education, culture, science and technology, sports, tourism and culture. They should actively participate in peace and conflict summits to discuss the issues that will affect our world. Summits, like One Young World, empower the youth to discover their key role in the process of creating a conflict free world.
We can build a conflict free 21st century if every young person remembers that peace is a collective responsibility.