On 6 September, QUNO welcomed Abel Learwellie, Executive Director of Camp for Peace Liberia, to lead a discussion on peacebuilding during times of transition with UN and member state representatives, and civil society colleagues. The conversation was timely as Liberia is soon to experience many changes, including elections in October of this year and the drawdown of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Mr. Learwellie has been active in the field of peacebuilding in Liberia for over 18 years, and his organization envisions a country where youth are empowered, self-sufficient, employed, and actively contributing to the strengthening and stabilization of Liberia. The meeting provided an opportunity for discussion on the upcoming transitions, challenges that remain for building sustainable peace, and examples of how Camp for Peace Liberia’s local level peacebuilding initiatives have helped support reconciliation in Liberia.
During the conversation, participants reflected challenges facing the country, such as the issue of mistrust between the security sector and civilians, a challenge remaining from experiences during the civil war; the lack of educational opportunities, both academic and vocational; and high levels of youth unemployment. Discussion also focused on the positive impacts of work to address these issues by actors such as the UN, the government of Liberia, and civil society, including Camp for Peace Liberia. In an effort to address such challenges, Camp for Peace Liberia implements a range of programs, including the War Affected Youth (WAY) program, which works to reintegrate former child soldiers and ex-combatants though vocational training, and the Non-Violence and Peace Education program, that gathers youth to participate in workshops focused on non-violent communication and mitigation.
Colleagues also raised the importance of national ownership and inclusivity as key for building upon the peacebuilding work led in the country. It was shared that critical to supporting sustainable peace will be implementing inclusive peacebuilding work processes that are owned and led by communities. QUNO looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Learwellie and the UN community in promoting inclusive peacebuilding approaches.