2019 SVNP Annual Conference: Youth and Peacebuilding in Africa (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) | Wilson Center
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2019 SVNP Annual Conference: Youth and Peacebuilding in Africa (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire)

The Wilson Center Africa Program in partnership with the Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour la Paix (CERAP) and Centre Ivoirien de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (CIRES) co-hosted the 2019 Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding (SVNP) Conference from July 15 to 18, 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The SVNP is a pan-African network consisting of 23 organizations working on various dimensions of peacebuilding in Africa.

The theme of the 2019 conference was “Youth and Peacebuilding in Africa.” The conference, held at CERAP, convened 22 representatives from the Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding and over 50 members of the public, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners for dialogue on youth and peacebuilding in Africa.

Participants assessed the current landscape relating to youth and peacebuilding in Africa and identified the key challenges, gaps, and opportunities, and interrogated existing African and international peacebuilding architectures for their attention to youth. The conference also addressed the continent’s efforts at building cultures of peace and explored how best to engage with a looming youth unemployment crisis, particularly as it relates to dignity, development, and peacebuilding. Through these discussions, the conference facilitated the sharing of lessons learned, best practices, and policy options for transforming and advancing the agenda for youth and peacebuilding in Africa, including through creating spaces for the innovations that youth could bring to peacebuilding.

Through a four-day series of presentations and dialogue, the annual conference provided participants with the opportunity to meet with each other and with U.S., African, and international policymakers and practitioners working on peacebuilding in Africa; enhance individual and organizational capacities and outreach; strengthen SVNP collaboration; and share knowledge and facilitate strategic thinking on issues critical to peacebuilding in Africa. Participants also toured the CERAP and CIRES offices to see these two SVNP organizations at work.

Speakers included SVNP members and representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Leadafricaines, UNESCO, School of the Armed Forces of Zambakro, and youth from the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire, among others.  A highlight of the conference was a visit to the AfDB, where participants met with representatives from the AfDB’s Civil Society, Community Engagement, and Social Innovation Division to discuss the work of the AfDB in inclusive development as well as avenues for the member organizations to engage with and contribute to the work of the AfDB.

This conference marked a major landmark for the SVNP, as it was the first time that the annual conference took place in a francophone country. Past conferences have occurred in Ethiopia (2018), Washington, D.C, (2017), and South Africa (2016).

This annual conference is a part of the Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding that works to bring African knowledge and analysis to U.S., international, and African policymakers in order to develop the most appropriate, cohesive, and inclusive policy frameworks and approaches to achieving sustainable peace in Africa.

 

2019 Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Conference