Youth Summit – Great Lakes youth advocate for inclusive leadership and active participation in peacebuilding

In the heart of the Great Lakes region, the youth population of Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda are stepping up to ask for a seat at the table in rebuilding their nations after years of conflict. With unwavering determination, they are demanding inclusive leadership and active participation in peacebuilding.

The Great Lakes Youth Peace (GLYP) Summit, organised by Interpeace and its partner organisations, the Centre d’Alerte et de Prévention des Conflits (Burundi), Action pour la Paix Concorde (DRC), Pole Institute (DRC), Refugee Law Project (Uganda), Never Again Rwanda (Rwanda), and Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle (Rwanda), provided a platform for young people to have their voices to be heard and united as future leaders in their quest for peace and development. The summit is part of the Great Lakes YouthLab initiative supported by the European Union and the Swiss Development Cooperation, which aims to promote a culture of peace and responsible citizenship among young people in the Great Lakes region.



Despite facing challenges such as unemployment, poverty, and limited access to education, the youth refuse to be defined by their hardships. At the summit, participants identified common obstacles and made recommendations to decision-makers. They emphasised the need for purposeful budget allocations to empower the youth through programmes such as skills training, mentorship, and entrepreneurship support.

Education took centre stage, with calls for increased support for skills training programmes. Gender equity was also highlighted, urging the inclusion of young women in decision-making processes and economic activities. The GLYP Summit showcased the transformative power of youth engagement through the inaugural Great Lakes Youth Talks. These conversations demonstrated that the youth are not merely seeking to be heard but are actively driving positive change in their communities.

The impact of the summit goes beyond its recommendations. It paves the way for greater youth participation in governance, peacebuilding, and development initiatives. Decision-makers, civil society organisations, and regional stakeholders are beginning to recognise and appreciate the power of youth voices. By embracing their ideas, providing resources, and fostering an inclusive environment, the Great Lakes region can harness the potential of its young generation and transform its trajectory.

As momentum grows, the world must actively involve and support the youth in their efforts. The journey towards sustainable peace and development requires the contributions of all stakeholders, with the youth at the forefront. Together, they can build a region where opportunities abound, wounds of conflict heal, and the dreams and aspirations of the youth are realised. The Great Lakes youth are ready to make their mark, and political and civil society leaders are beginning to recognise their power.

Interpeace welcomes two ambassadors to its Advisory Council – H.E. Eamonn Mac Aodha from Ireland and H.E. Lars Tummers from the Netherlands

We are honoured to welcome two ambassadors to our Advisory Council: H.E. Eamonn Mac Aodha, Charges d’affairs ad interim of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva; and H.E. Lars Tummers, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in Geneva. Both ambassadors have taken over the Advisory Council seat for their government and were officially welcomed to the Advisory Council during a meeting held on November 8, 2022.

Interpeace is grateful to Ambassador Michael Gaffey and Ambassador Nathalie Olijslager for their valuable contributions during their tenure in Interpeace’s Advisory Council. Their experience and expertise provided the organization with key strategic advice and guidance on peacebuilding policy and practice.

Prior to becoming Ireland’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Eamonn Mac Aodha served as Director for Relations with the European Parliament and inter-institutional affairs at the Irish Representation to the EU since 2017. He brings over three decades of experience in diplomacy and international affairs, having joined the Irish Foreign Service in 1990. In addition to his diplomatic work, he was Member of the Irish Press Council and Adjunct Professor at the National University of Ireland.

Ambassador Lars Tummers was appointed Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva in 2022. Previously, he served as Ambassador to Libya from 2018 until 2021 and as Special Envoy on Counterterrorism within the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, he has been Head of Political Affairs in Sudan, Senior Policy Adviser in the OSCE Mission to Kosovo, Political Adviser in the Kosovo Protection Force, Permanent Secretary for the UN in Kosovo and worked in the legal team of the UN Protection Force in Sarajevo.

The Advisory Council is a high-level, statutory body within Interpeace whose mandate is to provide the organization with strategic advice and guidance on peacebuilding policy and practice. It is composed of selected governmental and intergovernmental representatives, nominated because of the unique role these individuals are able to play in connecting peace and security policy and practice.

We are looking forward to working with Ambassador Mac Aodha and Ambassador Tummers as we seek to strengthen our positioning on key international policy agendas. Currently, Interpeace’s Advisory Council is composed by representatives of Afghanistan, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden.


A Brief Analysis of New UN Security Council Resolution 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security

Read A Brief Analysis of New UN Security Council Resolution 2535 on Youth, Peace and Security.

By: Graeme Simpson & Ali Altiok.

Interpeace Governing Board welcomes three new members

Interpeace is pleased to announce the appointments of three new members to its Governing Board: Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, as the new Representative of the Host Government, Switzerland; Mohamed Khaled Khiari, as the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General; and Nathalie Delapalme.

“I am delighted to welcome Ambassador Geissbühler, Mr. Khiari and Ms. Delapalme as new Board members,” said Monica McWilliams, Chair of the Interpeace Governing Board. “These individuals bring diversity, expertise and very rich experience in their different fields, from which Interpeace will benefit enormously”.

Nathalie Delapalme is the Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Before her appointment to the Foundation, Nathalie was a French senior civil servant, and served in various roles at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in other departments. A recipient of several awards, Nathalie is Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and sits on the Board of Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFPRI).

Nathalie Delapalme. Photo credits: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Ambassador Simon Geissbühler is a Swiss diplomat, historian, and political scientist, currently serving as Head of the Human Security Division at the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. He previously served as Switzerland’s Deputy Head of Mission to the United States in Washington D.C. from 2017 to 2020, and has held various other positions in the Swiss Foreign Service.

Simon Geissbühler. Photo Credit: Human Security Division of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs

Mohamed Khaled Khiari, a Tunisian diplomat with over 35 years in diplomacy and foreign affairs, is currently the Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations of the United Nations. Before his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Khiari was Director General of Americas, Asia and Oceania in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia.


Photo credits: UN

Together with existing members of the Board, the new members of the Governing Board will provide strategic direction, counsel and guidance to Interpeace.

Welcoming the appointments, the President of Interpeace, Scott Weber, said, “Our new Board members are deeply committed individuals who share Interpeace’s mission of reinforcing the capacities of societies to address conflict in non-violent and enduring ways. The new members bring a wealth of expertise and a rich diversity of experience that will add value, wisdom and impact to Interpeace’s crucial peacebuilding work worldwide.”

The Interpeace Governing Board is comprised of prominent individuals from the government, international, and business sectors. The Board is the top decision-making body of the organization and provides direction to Interpeace’s overall strategy.

Two permanent seats on the Governing Board are reserved for founding institutional members – one for the Host Government, Switzerland, and another for a designated representative of the United Nations Secretary-General. These permanent institutional memberships cement the commitment of Interpeace, the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations to continue to work together for sustained peace worldwide.

Elhadj As Sy appointed to the Governing Board of Interpeace

Interpeace is delighted to announce that Elhadj As Sy has been appointed to join the Governing Board of Interpeace.

Mr. Sy gladly accepted the appointment, stating that “communities around the world are striving for peace to create an enabling environment for their health, development and wellbeing. It’s my privilege to join the Interpeace Governing Board and to contribute to its mission to make peace possible”.

Mr. Sy brings strong experience from decades of working in the humanitarian sector, including in numerous leadership roles. Most recently, from 2014 to 2020, Mr. Sy served as the Secretary General of the world’s largest humanitarian network – the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Previous roles include senior positions at the United Nations Children’s agency (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and The Environment and Development Action in the Third World (Enda Tiers Monde).

Photo credits: Interpeace, by Elhadj As Sy.

In a world where humanitarian and development actors are struggling to secure the trust of affected communities, it is timely to welcome an outstanding humanitarian, such as Mr. As Sy, on to the Governing Board of Interpeace to enhance our peacebuilding efforts,” said the Board Chairperson, Monica McWilliams.

Mr. Sy is a member of the Global Commission on Adaptation, and, since 2018, has co-chaired the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board jointly convened by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank Group. He is also a member of the Roll Back Malaria Board since 2016, Governor at Wellcome Trust, and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board since 2019.

I am delighted to welcome Mr. Sy to Interpeace. His strong values, leadership experience and his commitment to protecting and enhancing the dignity of all people is truly inspiring,” said Interpeace President, Scott Weber.

Mr. Sy is a Senegalese national, also a graduate from the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, and speaks French, English, and German.

The Interpeace Governing Board is made up of prominent individuals from the government, international, and business sectors. It is the highest decision-making body of the organization and plays a key role in defining Interpeace’s overall strategy.

Photo credits: Interpeace.

Partnership beyond projects: the importance of local ownership and trust

Interpeace and the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) have worked together since 2007, supporting peacebuilding processes in Timor-Leste. Our partnership began in response to the violent political crisis of 2006, which revealed the challenges of a young nation adopting a new system of state structures. Throughout the years, we used Participatory Action Research (PAR) and piloted innovative approaches to assessing local resilience (Frameworks for Assessing Resilience) to help break cycles of violence and create a safe environment for the Timorese. This work enabled bottom up and locally owned solutions to be formulated, to identify and address local grievances in a non-violent and sustainable manner. CEPAD is now considered a “go-to” organization for peace and development challenges, and is recognized for promoting inclusive democracy by providing safe spaces for community dialogue.

In 2019, a case study of Interpeace’s long-standing partnership with CEPAD was developed as part of the Stopping As Success (SAS) initiative – a collaborative learning project that aims to study and provide guidelines on how to ensure locally led development and peacebuilding. The SAS initiative touches on many of the core principles Interpeace was founded on – local ownership, long term commitment, process-oriented work and the primacy of trust as a keystone to peace. ‘Success’ in locally led peacebuilding work can be defined in many ways, and an organizational or programmatic exit of an INGO or International Organization in lieu of successful and sustainable local organizations is one important indicator. However, a larger understanding of ‘success’ in locally owned peacebuilding ought to ultimately be about whether the broader social contract is moving towards peace. As peacebuilders, Interpeace and our partners always aim toward that ultimate goal.

In order to achieve sustainable peacebuilding processes that reinforce a peaceful social contract we have long known local ownership and not internationally driven approaches is key. While this has long been recognized, operationalizing local ownership of peacebuilding remains an ongoing challenge. That is why the SAS case study ,“Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) and Interpeace: A partnership transition in Timor-Leste, is an instructive example of the practical steps international actors can take to support the  efforts of a locally led organization developing locally owned and inclusive peacebuilding solutions.


CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009


Fostering local ownership through sustainable partnerships  

For over 25 years, Interpeace’s approach has made sure that local people are at the heart of building peace. We believe that peace must be built from within societies and not imposed from the outside. Therefore, from the outset of our partnership with CEPAD, we put our trust in our partners local teams  to lead the strategic management and implementation of project activities. Interpeace provided ongoing technical , financial and capacity-building support to CEPAD, since its creation in 2007. However, in 2015, Interpeace began a process to phase out its financial support to remain engaged with CEPAD solely in an advisory capacity.  While Interpeace provided financial and technical support as well as supported the development, implementation and evaluation of projects, delivered ongoing training to CEPAD staff, CEPAD was in the driver’s seat.

A CEPAD staff member mentioned, “Interpeace stopped the funds in 2016 but the relationship continued. Whenever we have any difficulties, we contact Interpeace and get their ideas and comments on our work and situations that we are facing.”

The case study developed by SAS captures how Interpeace’s approach – working with local partners and committing to long-term engagement – is critical to ensure sustainable peacebuilding efforts. It highlights that the trust that was built during almost a decade between Interpeace-CEPAD, helped both organizations as Interpeace transitioned away from providing financial support.

A number of key lessons were also mentioned by the case study: a.) strong leadership is an important factor when creating and sustaining an NGO that can operate successfully when financial support from an INGO partner ends; b.) adopting bottom-up, locally led models from the outset – as opposed to time-bound, top-down projects – contributes to a more sustainable transition process; and c.) it is possible for INGOs to find creative ways of continuing to support locally led organizations and initiatives after transitions have concluded.

CEPAD Timor Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

Read the full case study or 2-page summary

Read here for more on why local ownership is important for peace and for brief examples of tools and approaches to enable local leadership and ownership.