Young people must participate in peace processes, say attendees of an UNMISS musical event

Peace South Sudan UNMISS UN peacekeeping peacekeepers elections peace concert UNMISS democratic transition

An UNMISS-organized youth outreach in Juba, Central Equatoria, builds on the need for youth participation in South Sudan’s democratic transition. Photo by Gregorio Cunha/UNMISS.

7 Aug 2023

Young people must participate in peace processes, say attendees of an UNMISS musical event

James Sokiri

CENTRAL EQUATORIA – Recently, nation-building themes such as unity in diversity and letting go of past trauma resonated at St. Mary’s University College, at a concert hosted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The UN Peacekeeping mission’s in-house band—the Flamingoes—performed rousing peace songs, making people dance to their tunes, while passionate speakers called for youth participation in the country’s ongoing constitutional and electoral processes.

For Father Alfred Ladu, Vice Chancellor of the College, it is time for all South Sudanese to forgive past hurts and embrace a common purpose.

“Our country and its people have suffered immensely and the only way forward is for us to heal the wounds of the past and listen to one another,” he said to many of his students attending the event.

“Everybody’s opinions matter and differences of opinion are the essence of a true democracy. Holding grudges and denying others their views will only hold South Sudan back. As young people, you must always look towards making a positive impact by championing peacebuilding over conflict,” added Vice Chacellor Ladu.

Pia Philip, Undersecretary, Ministry of Peacebuilding, agreed.

“We must stand together against violence, embrace unity and social cohesion. Events like this nourish inclusivity and build momentum in ongoing peace processes. As a nation, we stand at a critical moment in our history and we count on our youth to help us build a peaceful, prosperous future,” he averred.

For his part, Agook Riak, a Political Affairs Officer with the UN Peacekeeping mission, youth participation in ongoing efforts to draft South Sudan’s permanent constitution is critical, as this document will lay the foundations for how all South Sudanese want to be governed.

“I urge you as young people and future leaders of South Sudan to be involved in building your country, participate in making decisions and taking actions that affect the lives and livelihoods of every citizen,” he averred.

With first-ever elections slated for the end of next year, Idrissa Kamara, an UNMISS Electoral Affairs Officer, explained the importance of the electoral process as well as the UN family’s role in supporting it.

“Upon request by the Government of South Sudan, UNMISS and the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes are working with all stakeholders on meeting election timelines, voter education and providing logistical support for a free, fair and credible process,” he explained.

Organized under the theme, ‘Peace Begins with Me,’ the event sought to sensitize young South Sudanese on the critical role they play in shaping the future.