It is my pleasure and honor to welcome all delegates, staff and visitors to the homepage of the Nigeria Model United Nations Society and her 2019 Conferences.
Dear delegates, at 1.8 billion, the current generation of young people aged 10-24 years old is the largest ever known. Global discourse on young people has for a long time predominantly considered the “youth bulge” as a threat to a country’s stability, and tended to see young people as easily driven into violence and extremist ideologies.
However, this conception critically fails to note young people’s vast and largely untapped capacity for peacebuilding. While young people are generally excluded from formal efforts to prevent and resolve conflict, there is a quiet but growing trend to harness the youth bulge for sustaining and building peace.
The inclusion of youth in peacebuilding, tolerance, and conflict resolution initiatives brings vibrancy and creativity to peacebuilding efforts. Believing that youth offer creative energy and active potential for the transformation of violent conflict in the world — and believing that education is a space for nurturing cultures of peace or cultures of war – it has become evident that young people should be taught the concepts, rudiments, and paths of peace so that they become pioneers of change to their peers, and for the purpose of constructive valuable contributions to global efforts towards peace, tolerance, and conflict resolution.
We have a responsibility to dialogue with youth on knowledge, values, skills, and behaviors conducive to fostering global harmony and social justice. Peace is described as the absence of physical and structural violence, and the presence of justice; therefore, young people should be encouraged, assisted, and instructed to explore the root causes of conflict, understand international humanitarian and human rights laws, initiate alternative structures of security, and learn skills for managing micro/macro conflict without violence.
These are empowering illuminations that will help our young people imbibe peacebuilding skills such as dialogue, mediation, peaceful interactions, artistic endeavors etcetera. In harnessing the energies of youth, young people must also learn the values of respect, understanding, and nonviolence, present skills for analyzing international conflict, educate for alternative security systems, and they would have to be taught in an atmosphere that’s democratic and participatory.
So, where do educators begin in their bid to harness the energies and creativity of youth in peacebuilding, tolerance, and conflict resolution? A lot of questions come to mind as nations, the UN, humanitarian organizations, civil society begin to accept that the potentials of young people must be cultivated and enlisted in the global efforts for peace. What are the values and methods of education for peace? How do educators develop peace education programs? What are conceptual frameworks to help teachers and learners understand conflict, violence, and peace education? How does education for peace address conflict differently than traditional education? Should young people have to study peace education and diversity issues?
I believe we all must focus more on maintaining creativity, which is often lost when growing older and burdened with more responsibility in a world dictated by economics. In practice, our adopted training or educational strategies must work in cohesion to build in every young person the universal values and behaviors on which a culture of peace is predicated, including the development of non-violent conflict resolution skills and a commitment to working together to realize a shared and preferred future.
It is for this reason that we are here; to affirm our commitments to young people and young people’s commitment to global efforts towards peace building, tolerance, and conflict resolution.
Once again, welcome to the Nigeria Model United Nations Conferences, 2019.