By Yvette Odoyo
As part of ISIRIKA’s commitment to peacebuilding, the organization mobilized youth leaders and organizations to establish the Kenya Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security (KCYPS). The Coalition was established in 2022 and was officially launched during the seventh anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250. The coalition brings together youth peacebuilders and youth-led organizations, aiming to strengthen youth-led efforts and enhance coordination of YPS advocacy to ensure its implementation is mainstreamed across different sectors and stakeholders in Kenya.
Our Goal: The coalition’s primary goal is to ensure that Kenyan youth perspectives are meaningfully integrated into national and local legislative decision-making processes on peace and security. To ensure that local efforts and perspectives are adequately incorporated into the coalition’s activities, the coalition seeks to devolve its work through its membership by having county chapters. This approach ensures that the youth’s voices are heard at the grassroots level and that the challenges and issues they face are brought to the government’s and other stakeholders’ attention.
Our Membership: The KCYPS has also established a working group based on the 5 pillars of engagement, including Participation, Prevention, Partnership, and Disarmament, Demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). The establishment of the pillar working groups is essential to ensuring good pillar engagement and progress in the coalition’s efforts to promote youth peace and security issues. This approach enables the coalition to have a targeted approach to address the various issues affecting the youth, including prevention of conflicts, disarmament of weapons, and ensuring that the youth are involved in the peacebuilding process. This effort is aimed to ensure that youth perspectives are integrated into national and local legislative decision-making processes on peace and security. Through its advocacy efforts, the coalition has sensitized policymakers and other stakeholders on the importance of meaningful youth participation in decision-making processes and highlighted youth’s contributions to promoting peace and security.
The KCYPS’s efforts have demonstrated the importance of involving the youth in decision-making processes on peace and security issues. The coalition’s approach of devolving its work through membership by having advocacy pillar groups and county involvement ensures that the youth’s voices are heard at the grassroots level, and the challenges and issues that they face are brought to the attention of the government and other stakeholders.
However, the coalition still faces several challenges that need to be addressed to achieve its goals fully. For instance, the limited participation of marginalized and vulnerable groups in the coalition’s activities. While the coalition has made efforts to ensure inclusivity, there is still a need to do more to ensure that the voices of all youth, including those from marginalized and vulnerable communities, are heard and their perspectives integrated into its initiatives fully.
Our Engagements So Far: One of the significant events that the KCYPS has been part of is the high-level workshop on Youth Peace and Security hosted jointly by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports – CS Hon. Ababu Namwamba, EGH, and the Ambassador of Finland to Kenya– Mr Pirkka Tapiola. The workshop was held on 31st March 2023, in light of the recent unrest experienced in Kenya. It was aimed to address youth, peace, and security issues and provide a platform for stakeholders to share their experiences and expertise on this critical topic, as well as the progress made in the National Action Plan (NAP) process for YPS and the challenges that need to be addressed to achieve the goals of the process.
This highlights the commitment of the KCYPS to ensuring the inclusivity of the youth and vulnerable groups in the NAP process. The National Action Plan is expected to provide a framework for addressing youth, peace, and security issues in Kenya and outline specific actions that different stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, and the private sector, can take to support youth-led efforts towards sustainable peace.
This commitment was also demonstrated during the roundtable conversation with the Finland Minister of ForeignAffairs, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary for Youth Affairs and the Arts, the Finnish Ambassador to Kenya, and other stakeholders. The roundtable discussion centred around the national YPS implementation process. The coalition members present included organizations such as ISIRIKA Kenya, Kariobangi Social Justice Centre, Tunawiri Africa, Upcoming African Youth Organisation, Kesho Alliance, and other member organizations represented.
Looking to the Future: The coalition has several plans to further strengthen its work and achieve even greater success. One such plan is to create a mentorship program that will pair young people interested in peace and security matters with experienced mentors who can guide and support them in their career development. The coalition also plans to increase its outreach efforts to engage with more young people across Kenya. This will involve creating more partnerships with local organizations and communities to ensure that the coalition’s message reaches as many young people as possible.
Overall, the Kenya Coalition on Youth Peace and Security has made impressive progress since its formation. The coalition’s commitment to promoting youth engagement in peace and security matters is commendable, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed. With more plans in the pipeline, the coalition is poised to achieve even greater success in the coming years.
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