OYW & European Commission host international peacebuilding Caucus in Kigali

The world’s leading young peacebuilders gathered in Kigali for a Caucus hosted by the European Commission and One Young World – the global forum for young leaders.

Coming 25 years after the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the two-day event explored how the world can learn from Rwanda’s experience of forgiveness and reconciliation with the aim of countering violent extremism across the globe.

Rwanda is emerging as one of the most cohesive and prosperous societies in the East African region. It scores highly on the Gallup Global Law and Order Index and ranks second behind Tanzania as the most peaceful country in East Africa. It is also the country with the highest proportion of women in parliament worldwide.

‘United Futures: Lessons from Rwanda’ gathered the most impactful peacebuilders under the age of 30 to reflect on the post-Genocide experience and draw from the nation’s expertise. The European Union’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Mr. Nicola Bellomo; Director General of the CNLG Research and Documentation Center on Genocide, Dr Jean-Damascene Gasanabo; and President of Ibuka, Professor Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu were all keynote speakers.

Hosted at the Westerwelle Startup Haus, attendees also participated in site visits to the Kigali Genocide Memorial and DSM's Africa Improved Foods (AIF) plant. In partnership with the Government of Rwanda, AIF supports nutrition programs for the most impoverished communities through its Shisha Kibondo products. The company also produces relief foods for the World Food Programme that are distributed again to the most vulnerable populations in refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan.

The event forms part of the wider One Young World and European Commission Peace Ambassador Programme – an initiative developed to accelerate the efforts of young leaders in preventing and countering violent extremism, building peace, and promoting conflict resolution globally.

The following Peace Ambassadors spoke at the Caucus:

  • Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, ​Rwanda​ – survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and founder of Be the Peace and Hyppolite For Peace, which aim to halt the intergenerational transmission of hatred.
  • Nelson Kwaje, ​South Sudan​ – social media manager for #defyhatenow, a community peacebuilding, training, and conflict reconciliation project aiming to strengthen the voices and support the actions of peace & youth-oriented civil society organizations in South Sudan.
  • Sesame Omphile Mogotsi, ​Botswana​ – member of Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network, a network seeking to drive the narrative on youth as stakeholders in the peace and security agenda and not merely perpetrators and victims of violence.
  • Henri Sougourounoma Kabore, ​Burkina Faso​ – founder of the ‘Burkina Faso Youth Interfaith Network (BFYIN)’, a national NGO to boost sustainable peace and development and to tackle terrorism in the country.
  • Achaleke Leke, ​Cameroon​ – National Coordinator of Local Youth Corner Cameroon; Cameroon Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth; Global Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network and member of the UN Inter Agency Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding.
  • Rahama Nantoume, ​Mali – freelance journalist, blogger and peace builder. Project Manager and Researcher at Think Peace Mali: a Malian think tank working on issues of governance, peace and security but mostly violent extremism in Mali.
  • Seleman Yusuph Kitenge, ​Tanzania – co-founder of the African Network of Youth Policy Experts. His team has succeeded to establish an evidence-based fact sheet on youth policy implementation for 54 African countries to monitor and evaluate the commitments of African states.

In the two years since the initiative was launched, One Young World and the European Commission have identified 120 young leaders from 97 countries building lasting peace. The work of Peace Ambassadors focuses on both the direct and indirect causes of violence – ranging from countering the harmful effects of environmental change to promoting social inclusion. 

Other OYW Ambassadors who spoke at the Caucus include Ndugwa Hassan, Co-founder and Senior Programs Coordinator Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum and Extremely Together advocate, and Muhunde Amos, a Trade Marketing Manager at DSM / AIF. 

European Union’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Mr. Nicola Bellomo, commented: 'We are not only speaking about youth but also WITH youth and therefore I am happy to join the One Young World Caucus and hear about the work that One Young World Peace Ambassadors are doing in building peaceful and prosperous societies around the continent.''

David Jones & Kate Robertson, co-founders of One Young World said: “With approximately 60% of its population under the age of 25, Rwanda’s young people and the leaders among them have been central to its emerging success. The power of young people is recognised at governmental levels here, where a significant number of seats are held by young politicians – something we strongly believe the rest of the world should learn from.

“This new generation is the most informed, most educated, most connected generation in human history. Young people really do hold the key to countering violent extremism, and we are grateful for the European Commission’s ongoing support.”