UNDP supports South Sudanese Peace Festival - Speech by UNDP Country Director, Mr. Balázs Horváth

Dec 6, 2015

Excellencies 

Senior Government Officials,

Representatives of the International Community,

Representatives of Civil Society, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak to you today at the opening of the South Sudanese Local Peace Festival. The event is organised under the theme: “Come Together”. Working for peace cannot be an isolated effort. Coming together is a beginning. 

All of you who are present here today have come together for a common purpose: To celebrate peace and strive towards a vision for the future of South Sudan. A common vision for this young nation is the glue that binds communities together and enables them to transcend beyond existing divides.

Years of conflict have fragmented communities. The role that culture and sports can play in bringing communities together and building peace is often underestimated. Interaction and mutual appreciation of each other’s culture can foster tolerance, understanding and ultimately peace among the numerous communities and tribes in South Sudan. 

Today’s festival is a unique occasion to acknowledge the importance of national unity and equitable respect for cultural diversity. It helps to deepen the understanding of the values of cultural richness as a national asset.

I would like to highlight that a national vision and sustainable future for South Sudan cannot be achieved without critical contributions from the youth. Making up the overwhelming majority of the population, the youth in South Sudan constitute the backbone of society.

Youth are vital stakeholders in conflict and in peacebuilding. If neglected as a key population group, youth become vulnerable and can be mobilised for violent causes. However, if they are enabled to realise their full potential, they can build bridges across communities, work together and help manage conflict and promote peace.

Youth are the next generation of leaders, they have the chance to rewrite history. They can be powerful agents that bring change to their communities and engines for positive social, political and economic transformation. 

Investments need to be made to empower youth to take charge and ownership of the future. Meaningful opportunities to fulfil their aspirations should be created. Social and economic development of youth needs to be a key priority. 

Today’s Peace Festival is a testimony of the power that youth can have to bring communities together. I congratulate the Initiative for Peace Communication Association (IPCA) and all contributors for organizing this festival. I am looking forward to witness the cultural performances and sport activities. This is a unique event that contributes to changing the narrative of this country by creating a positive image of its cultural richness. 

Let me take the opportunity to thank the Swedish International Development Cooperation for their generous contributions to UNDP’s Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) project in support of civil society organisations in South Sudan. I would also like to thank DFID, Norway and the Swiss Cooperation Office for their continued support to the UNDP’s CSAC project. 

 

Thank you.

 

Contact information

 

Ms. Angelique Reid, Communications Specialist

UNDP South Sudan

Email: angelique.reid@undp.org

Mobile: +1 (211) 922 411934