UN Peace­build­ing Fund: Sus­tain­ing the gains of peace and de­vel­op­ment

Palawan Daily News - - Security -

The United Na­tions’ (UN) up­com­ing ini­tia­tives in Min­danao will fo­cus on build­ing the ca­pac­i­ties of the youth and women and em­pow­er­ing them to be­come agents of peace and de­vel­op­ment.

This was among the high­lights of the se­cond Project Ad­vi­sory Board Meeting of the United Na­tions Peace­build­ing Fund (UN PBF) at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP), UNICEF, UN Women, and the Of­fice of the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­viser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) yes­ter­day.

Youth as peace­builders

Pres­i­den­tial Peace Ad­viser Je­sus Dureza, who co-chairs the PBF Project Ad­vi­sory Board with UN Res­i­dent Co­or­di­na­tor in the Philip­pines Ola Alm­gren, stressed the vi­tal role of the youth in peace­build­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the na­tional gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to ad­dress the grow­ing threat of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism in the coun­try.

“The youth is very crit­i­cal in our work for peace,” Dureza said, point­ing out that a large num­ber of those re­cruited by ter­ror­ist groups dur­ing the Marawi siege were very young fight­ers.

He em­pha­sized the need to pro­vide young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly those in con­flictaf­fected ar­eas, with the nec­es­sary skills that would en­able them to make a liv­ing and con­se­quently dis­cour­age them from join­ing ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“We need to give them (youth) the ca­pac­ity to earn so they can avoid do­ing these fool­ish things,” Dureza said.

Sus­tain­ing the gains of peace

The PBF, dubbed “En­hanc­ing Ca­pac­i­ties for the Bangsamoro,” be­gan its im­ple­men­ta­tion in Septem­ber 2017 through a part­ner­ship be­tween the United Na­tions and OPAPP.

The fund’s main ob­jec­tives are to cre­ate an en­abling environment for the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Com­pre­hen­sive Agree­ment on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed be­tween the Gov­ern­ment of the Philip­pines and the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front (MILF) and de­velop the ca­pac­i­ties of stake­hold­ers to fight vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

The PBF is de­signed to sup­port gov­ern­ment’s peace­build­ing ini­tia­tives, which in­clude the in­for­ma­tion and ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign for the pas­sage and rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Bangsamoro Or­ganic Law (BOL), strength­en­ing the con­ver­gence be­tween the MILF and Moro Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front (MNLF), and as­sist­ing in the tran­si­tion from the present ARMM gov­ern­ment to the Bangsamoro Tran­si­tion Au­thor­ity (BTA). En­gag­ing the youth

Dur­ing meeting, An­drew Mor­ris, chief of UNICEF’s Min­danao of­fice, said it is the over­all strat­egy of his agency to ac­tively en­gage the youth in peace-pro­mot­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

“This is some­thing we would con­tinue in the com­ing years, to get them in­volved in peace­build­ing,” Mor­ris said.

He said based on a re­cent study con­ducted by UNICEF, there are cur­rently around 400,000 out-of­school youth in the ARMM.

Mor­ris said the sit­u­a­tion is wor­ri­some in light of the cur­rent peace and se­cu­rity con­di­tions in the re­gion which are be­ing ex­ploited by rad­i­cal groups.

He added that among the ma­jor con­cerns con­fronting the re­gion’s youth are health, ed­u­ca­tion, and em­ploy­ment.

He said this is the rea­son the UNICEF’s pro­grams and projects are fo­cused on pro­vid­ing much-needed ser­vices for the youth.

“We need to work at a larger scale to make an im­pact,” he said.

Mor­ris said through UNICEF’s var­i­ous pro­grams, the agency hopes to reach out to about half a mil­lion youth in the re­gion.

In­creased role of women in com­mu­nity safety

For her part, Mari­cel Aguilar of UN Women re­ported that her or­ga­ni­za­tion has al­ready reached out to 500 “di­as­pora” com­mu­ni­ties.

She said this is in line with the agency’s ef­forts to sup­port a CAB-com­pli­ant Bangsamoro Or­ganic Law in par­tic­u­lar and the Bangsamoro peace process in gen­eral.

Aguilar said many of the women they have talked to still do not have a clear un­der­stand­ing of the BOL, es­pe­cially on how its im­ple­men­ta­tion will im­pact their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties.

“A lot of them don’t know what will be the im­pli­ca­tions of the law,” she said. “We need to reach out to these com­mu­ni­ties and in­flu­ence them.”

Aguilar said UN Women is now closely work­ing with civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions in the re­gion in or­der to boost their in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion cam­paign on the BOL and strengthen the role of women in com­mu­nity safety and civil­ian pro­tec­tion.

To date, they have trained 33 women speak­ers who will lead in leg­isla­tive lob­by­ing and con­ver­sa­tions in di­as­pora com­mu­ni­ties. “We hope to scale up our in­ter­ven­tions,” she said.

Greater syn­ergy

Dureza un­der­scored the need for greater syn­ergy and in­te­gra­tion among the var­i­ous peace stake­hold­ers.

“We need to have a co­her­ent net­work,” he said, not­ing that a lot of or­ga­ni­za­tions are now help­ing the na­tional gov­ern­ment in its work for peace.

Dureza also lauded the international de­vel­op­ment com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly the United Na­tions, for help­ing to push for­ward the Duterte Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s peace and de­vel­op­ment agenda.

“Thank you very much for your help,” he said. “But there is still a lot of work ahead of us.”

In re­sponse, Alm­gren, UN’s res­i­dent co­or­di­na­tor in the Philip­pines, thanked OPAPP for giv­ing his or­ga­ni­za­tion the op­por­tu­nity to carry out its work in the Philip­pines.

“We are priv­i­leged for the part­ner­ship that we have,” he said. (OPAPP)

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