A Reflection from Sri Lanka
By Abby SkeansFrom June 5-9, just six years after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, Global Unites, a youth-led organization working for global conflict transformation and sustainable peace hosted its inaugural summit.The nearly 100 participants included youth delegates selected come from nations affected by violence including Rwanda, Afghanistan, Columbia, El Salvador, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and the Central African Republic. Each delegate was selected based on a proven record of youth leadership, innovation, and commitment to non-violent social action.The summit was organized by the Executive Committee of Global Unites on which I currently serve. This body is a diverse, multi-cultural, non-partisan, multi-religious global movement of approximately 40 millennial professionals who are strongly committed to long-term transformation of conflict across five regions and ten core programmatic areas that can be utilized to create social change.The Summit was a key time to inspire, connect, and equip youth leaders through lectures, interactive panels, breakout planning sessions, art, storytelling, comedy, and music. The Summit addressed both the theoretical and practical challenges of establishing a peaceful youth movement amidst or directly after conflict.Featured keynote speakers, including both High Commission Geoff Doidge - Former Minister in Nelson Mandela’s first government and Jayantha Dhanapala- United Nations Under Secretary General for Disarmament. Commenting on his time at the Summit, Amb. Dhanapala added: “Being affiliated with Global Unites has been the most rewarding experience of my career.”Each delegate collaborated with their regional network during a series of breakout sessions during the Summit to draft strategic plan for their actions during the next one, three, and six month period.Through the Summit, Global Unites seeks to create an international network for young peace builders in conflict impacted nations and provide delegates with intensive training to become more effective at conflict transformation, and create national-level movements in their countries.The founder of Global Unites, Prashan De Visser, has a long history of youth empowerment through his youth movement Sri Lanka Unites. Global Unites was inspired by Sri Lanka Unites (SLU), which has over 10,000 members who are active in every province of the island and has four centers for reconciliation in Mullaitivu, Matara, Ampara and Colombo. Sri Lanka Unites also has diaspora chapters among Sri Lankan youth in Los Angeles, Toronto, Melbourne and London.Prashan has explained his vision for Global Unites saying, “For many years we wanted to have the opportunity to be involved as a country that was not defined by suicide bombing and three decades of violence but the stark opposite. We are honored to have the opportunity to have inspired and now host this landmark forum for a cohesive international strategy for youth led peace-building.“For more information please visit www.globalunites.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can review key moments from the Summit on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hastag: #GlobalUnites.