Youth critical to SI's security

 

To mark International Youth Day on 12th August 2016, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin released the following message:

“Solomon Islands is a relatively young country in several respects. It has just celebrated 38 years of independence and an astounding 60 per cent of the population are under the age of 25.

Today,(12 August) as we mark International Youth Day, I am reminded that all of these young Solomon Islanders were born or have lived most of their lives while the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has been supporting the nation’s security and stability. Significantly, many teenagers will not be able to recall a Solomon Islands without RAMSI or share first-hand accounts of the conflict that brought this country to its knees.

While it is a blessing that these youths did not endure the wounds and hardships of previous generations, I believe it is incumbent upon all Solomon Islanders to work with, and support, young people to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and the lessons learnt are not forgotten by future generations. Let’s not overlook that youth formed the backbone of many militia groups during the Tensions period.

Of course, RAMSI helped break the cycle of violence and has laid the foundation for long-term stability and development in this country. This is why the 15-nation RAMSI mission will leave in June next year and the national government will resume full responsibility for nation’s security. The peace that Solomon Islanders and RAMSI have strived so hard to achieve, however, must continue to be backed by communities that value peace and work in partnership with the authorities to build a brighter future.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) is fulfilling its role. As part of its Crime Prevention Strategy, the RSIPF recognises that tackling issues that affect youth is important to maintaining law and order. The police are therefore working closely with youth, through engagement and dialogue, to ensure that they are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. This is why Solomon Islanders should continue to invest in young people to ensure that they receive a good education, can get a job, and live healthily and free of violence. The capacity of governments and community leaders to support marginalised youth and develop productive women and men that contribute positively to society will be, in my view, critical to this nation’s future success.

I also believe that Solomon Islands cannot wait until today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders before involving them in nation-building efforts and decisions about the future direction of the country. The inclusion of their voices and views in national debates and policy making is important now.

So, after 13 years of peace in Solomon Islands, it is time for RAMSI to leave and my hope is that the youth of this nation, with the support of older generations, seize the opportunity to define their own future and become the government, business and community leaders that this nation deserves.”