Why do we need the DRC’s Youth, Peace, and Security agenda?

Transparent Collaboration with all young people working on the YPS agenda to advance it at a national and provincial level.

The DRC has come a long way in the vulgarization of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, materialized by the desire for more and more youth-led structures that have started to work together on the YPS Agenda in the country. Looking back at the first wave from 2015 to 2017, some young Congolese people participated in international and regional summits and conferences organized by the United Nations that were fundamental in informing young people about their role as agents of change in peacebuilding. 

There were young Congolese at the 2015 international conference on the role of youth in building sustainable peace in Jordan that gave food for taught for the UNSCR225O adoption the same year. There were also young Congolese who participated in the Central and western regional consultations on the UNSCR2250 in Benin in 2017, which contributed to the launching of the progress studies on the UNSCR2250 and, at the same time, facilitated the adoption of the second resolution on youth peace and security referred to as UNSC2419 in December the same year.

Around 2019 and 2020, a second wave came with the vulgarization of the UNSCR220 in the country as many young Congolese activists were working on that, and we’re using it as a tool to reclaim their place in the decision-making processes through various initiatives. This eventually led the Congolese government to institutionalize on December 28th, 2020, through the ministry of Youth, the National Technical Secretary for the implementation of the UNSCR 2250 in the DRC (STN-2250/DRC). 

As the STN-2250 started his work in getting in touch with various partners and informing them of its existence. They realized that many youth-led structures worked separately, without knowing each other in various provinces. In South Kivu, for instance, they are groups like  » Collectif 2250, » while in another province called Tshopo, they gathered as « Réseau Tshopo 2250 ». Knowing all that, the STN-2250 started identifying them on October 6. A first meeting was held on October 11 with major youth-led structures such as YALI-RDC, Youth4Peace DRC, NPCY, YWPL, AFIA MAMA, CONAJEFEL, Collectif 2250, and Reseau Tshopo 2250 already working on this thematic to exchange on how we can work on having our own National Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security in the DRC. 

In the same process, the STN-2250 reached out for guidance from organizations such as Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and the office of the UN Youth Envoy to assist technically on how we could make such as coalition possible in the DRC. Enjoying certain confidence as an institutional structure while simultaneously realizing the limitations such institutions can have in lobbying and advocacy within the government. The STN-2250, through three exchange (Ocotober11 20, and November 4th) meetings with the youth-leading associations, have facilitated a framework for collaboration and synergy to push for unity in their work by forming a coalition.

In this dynamic, SFCG and GNWP assisted in getting in touch with the Youth Peace Security coalition in the USA, Canada, Nigeria, Philippines, and Finland to assist the Congolese youth in this process. Hence various exchanges of experiences were planned to allow the Congolese youth to make their coalition through learning experiences and capacity building.

 Process of creating the D.R. Congo Youth, Peace and Security Coalition.

1.   Methodology

Though it is the STN-2250 who started this initiative as an institution that brings together youth, they have also realized that there was a need to be accompanied by those who have made the same journey before and allow youth involved in the process to take ownership of this to allow a better appropriation from youth-led organizations and young peacebuilders.

Hence the support request was greatly appreciated, and SFCG responded the first one to assist in arranging one-on-one conversations with the various countries about how they started, managed varying interests, and continued to overcome the challenges they faced. They were followed by GNWP, who introduced some of the leading youth of the initiative to various groups.  The goal was to have a handful of discussions to help the DRC make its journey through learning.

The methodological approach proposed by SFCG is called the collective impact, which is different from traditional network initiatives as it will allow the Congolese to learn through many lessons from other countries’ coalitions. As for optimum learning, instead of having one event, they suggested that it might be more helpful to have a series of one-on-one discussions with some key Coalition leaders.  They suggest the US, Nigerian, Finnish, and Philippine efforts and Canadians. Those countries have had varying levels of success in shaping policy that could be worth sharing with Congolese youth though most have not yet finalized their strategy to act on policy. Examples were given of the United States, which had a model that has not yet tested its strategy, and the Philippines, which has a model being tested currently. 

Having one-on-one conversations was proposed as an approach that will help dig deeper into what appropriate format will convene for the DRC. Their lessons could also be beneficial in shaping the DRC model and getting insightful details from them. It was therefore agreed to carry on with the one-on-one coalition exchange during November. Then organized a two-day meeting via zoom with all the youth who participated in those exchanges to decide on the agreed model for the DRC after a month of learning experiences and officially presented the National coalition at the 6th anniversary of the UNSCR2250 conference that will be organized by the STN-2250 through the ministry of youth and citizenship.

The main objective of this process of young Congolese Peacebuilders is unifying young people around the YPS Agenda. to Brainstorm and Exchange sessions in November with other YPS coalitions who have succeeded in doing so, the need other coalitions have encountered that can serve the DRC, to exchange on challenges they encountered in bringing together several youth structures and finally to decide on the form of the coalition, the criteria, through the lessons learned from the experience of forming a YPS coalition in their respective country.

It’s worth noting that this is a going process, as it is shaped by the Congolese context and dynamic. The most expected result is the creation of a National coalition on YPS in the DRC. Other expected results involve carrying out advocacy for the effective implementation of the YPS agenda, assisting the STN-2250 in the vulgarization of the UNSCR2250 through various initiatives, and contributing to the elaboration and youth appropriation of the National Action Plan.

What would be the relationship between this technical committee and the YPS coalition?

It will becomplementary and independent.

The YPS-DRC coalition, which is being created, will be independent of the SNT-2250 and will support lobbying and advocacy for implementing R2250 in the DRC. It will facilitate the spread of R2250 but will remain close to the STN to make its voice heard if necessary because the STN-2250, as a state institution, could be limited in its advocacy actions vis-à-vis the DRC government. Hence the importance of a coalition of young people who understand what is at stake and who will be able to remain in contact with the STN-2250 on the evolution of the elaboration of the National Action Plan through its appropriation; its promotion but who will also be able to go and knock on the door where the STN-2250 will feel congested because the YPS DRC coalition will only have the Congolese youth as respondent. 

It will manage its funding alone; it will have its activity plan to promote R2250 in all the corners of the country and the various vernacular languages through youth structures but also come in support of the advocacy for the implementation of the National Action Plan. 

Thus, the STN-2250 will have the merit of facilitating the space in putting together numerous young people working on the same YPS agenda through the R2250 who did not know each other because of being each in his province. It has therefore facilitated a work of synergy, allowing young people to walk together and take off. Hence the Congolese coalition will serve as a counterweight for advocacy if certain things are delayed in the implementation of the National Action Plan by the government. It will represent the DRC in meetings of the global YPS coalitions and will be able to carry its advocacy outside the country to make the Congolese youth be heard inside and outside the country.