We at Humanium seized the opportunity to participate within the Geneva Peace of Week to build connections with all those different active actors and specifically as members of the working group “Children and armed conflict”.
What is Geneva Peace Week?
Geneva Peace Week is a collective action initiative facilitated by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform in collaboration with the Swiss Confederation. By synchronizing meetings and events on different topics related to the promotion of peace during one week, Geneva Peace Week maximizes synergies between organizations in Geneva, focused on the cross-cutting nature of peace; this year it takes place from the 5th through the 9th of November (Geneva Week of Peace, 2018).
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
On the 6th of November we had the opportunity to meet with Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. It was very interesting to learn about Virginia experiences since she started her mandate one year ago. She has conducted field trips to Sudan, Colombia and Myanmar as strategic visits that involve field calls as required; specifically in Myanmar, the focus has been in the topics of armed children and the building of a peace dialogue.
During 2018, the highest number of kids was hired in the military in Syria, followed by Palestine, Yemen and Afghanistan. The situation in South Sudan has being gradually improved by building task forces out of peace builders, children protectors, and government officials, however the fundraising initiatives still present huge issues.
It is devastating to learn that the situation with Boko Haram in Nigeria is not improving and where very sadly the number of girls used as human bombs has doubled. Additionally, we learnt that the three top issues in war conflicts are: sexual abuse, suicide, and orphans.
The good news is that since Virginia Gamba started her mandate, a series of initiatives to counteract the participation of children in armed conflicts have been taking place, and which have consisted of analysis, lessons learnt, best practice leverage, new unit, amongst others; and of course the effort does not stop there, the focus has also been on “how to include child protection discussions into peace talks”, an initiative that is being run by Sharon Schuh. Additionally, Forest Whitaker has recently joined the team, being his speciality teaching how to motivate young people in Africa. And as for preventive campaigns we are already looking forward to 2019 and find out more about “How can you prevent your kids NOT being abused?”.
What is being done to promote peace?
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future (Sustainable Development Goals, 2018).
Specifically, the Sustainable Development Goal 16 emphasises on the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and the target 16.4 aims by 2030, to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime (Sustainable Development Goal 16, 2018).
What is next?
Without any doubt, the participation of Humanium within the Geneva Peace Week has brought us valuable assets:
- Continue learning from the network of worldwide organisations, as well as exchanging best practices and learning about future initiatives.
- Having met Virginia Gamba, has helped us promoting our projects and efforts at Humanium, as well as to have effective support from her and her team.
- The Humanium approach is to prevent trauma wherever possible and to heal where needed.
Geneva Peace Week. (2018). Geneva Peace Week. Retrieved 6 November, 2018, from https://www.genevapeaceweek.ch/
Sustainable Development Goals. (2018). Sustainable Development UN. Retrieved 6 November, 2018, from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
Sustainable Development Goal 16. (2018). Goal 16 Sustainable Development. Retrieved 6 November, 2018, from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg16