On 9 December 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted the Resolution 2250, the very first resolution on Youth, Peace and Security, urging Member States to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. Are young African Peacebuilders aware of its substance, are they using it to structure their work? How can it improve their impact towards building more peaceful African societies?
This is the concluding statement of a young Liberian “Wallbreaker”, reporting on his attending the most recent the 2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum, held on April 8 – 9 at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. He has experienced a breathtaking career in social and humanitarian work, to be representing the Liberian and all African youth at this high-level international meeting focussed on “Youth”. Overview of the journey of a young humanitarian, active millennial, outstanding leader of today, and inspiration for his peers and the next generations.
From local to global: advocate, humanitarian and blogger
At 23, Wantoe is an advocate, humanitarian and blogger from Liberia currently studying in New York, who served as Chairperson of the Liberian National Children and Youth Advisory Board where he led a team that engages on anti-rape awareness campaigns. His engagement started since he was 9, with participation in several rallies, petitions, and awareness campaigns to advocate for the rights of children in Liberia and worldwide.
In-depth participation in shaping the Global Humanitarian Agenda
Between 2013 and 2016, he consecutively served as a member of a global youth steering committee to develop and implement the Global Voice for Change project, which helped young people around the world connect, learn and advocate together at an international level. He then represented Liberian Youth at the launching of the Doha Youth Declaration on Reshaping the Humanitarian Agenda in Qatar. This expertise led him being appointed as a Country Focal Person by a country led committee of the United Nation’s Major Group for Children and Youth West and Central Africa Regional Leadership for Humanitarian.
A West African Youth Voice at the World Humanitarian Summit
As a result, in 2016, he delivered a preliminary statement at the World Humanitarian Summit, where he gave a summary of their work with orphans in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and the whole region, described the multiple challenges they faced as a youth-led organization. Describing the precarity in the Ebola outbreak, he called on the United Nations and world leaders to support these local organizations and volunteer youth-led humanitarian organizations to fight that epidemic in West Africa.
A youth 2030 model for the United Nations
Leading projects locally, engaging youth globally
“The Future we Want depends on youth”, seems to be the creed of Wantoe, who has never stopped putting one step in front of the other to move towards building a better future for the children of Liberia and the whole world. In 2018, he intensified his initiatives and actions, becoming Ambassador for the Friendship Foundation Campus, to mobilize Liberians for the 2018 winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations, ending up certified as an Esteem Campus Ambassador. He brought forward the project called “Liberian Youths involvement in climate change action” with the aim to improve food security and resilience to climate change in 20 communities around Liberia, encouraging low land farming and Forestry Development Authority to halt deforestation. This made him the winner of the Global Young Voices SDGs Cup. In the meantime, his blogs were featured in Voices of Youth, The Huffington Post, Global dailies, Icon episode and other platforms.
Now attending Mount Saint Vincent College, he keeps on multiplying impact and for instance, he got his resolution passed as he joined his college’s delegation to attend the fifty-second iteration of the University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference in Philadelphia. ‘Never stop learning and improving your skills’: he completed a course with the Obama Foundation on Community Leadership: Assets & Dialogue after being selected through a competitive process. He is organizing youth around issues and changes that matter to them and many events and activities aimed at insuring the understanding of community issues and inclusion. Earlier this April, he was appointed to serve as the student director of The College of Mount Saint Vincent 2019 MILLENNIUM FELLOWSHIP CLASS first Inaugural Millennium Campus Network. The Millennium Fellowship is organized by The United Nations Academic Impact and MCN. It provides Leadership development program on selected campuses worldwide, convening, challenging, and celebrating student leadership that advances the Sustainable Development Goals.
Advocating at the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum
April 8 – 9, 2019, Samuel joined hundreds of global young people at the 2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the theme “Empowered, Included and Equal”. Attending the breakout session entitled “The Empowerment and Inclusion of Young People in Africa: Towards Durable Solutions for Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa”, he gave his views, emphasising on the fact that African countries should adopt policies and agendas that respects the rights and dignity of every African irrespective of geographical bearer or economic status. On a reporting post, he wrote:
Like always, our failure has been forging resilience after Disasters. For instance, our approach since the Ebola outbreak remain even more vulnerable than we were due to the lack of an extensive multi-hazard and multi-sector, comprehensive, accessible and efficient preventive approach to Ebola preparedness. Two third of our ministers don’t cultivate existing policies due to their lack of knowledge on these international frameworks. Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons are feared by our Government after disasters but consider tools during disasters and force displacement discussions. As young people we find these dialogues essential but effective will it be after we tasked our Leaders. All the same what do I know, when our African ministers of Youth are still 60 and 70. _ Wantoe Teah Wantoe