Over 40 young Filipinos from ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi) were engaged in the second leg of seminar-workshop, Filipino Youth and Violent Extremism, held from 6-8 November 2019 at Meridian Suites in Zamboanga city. In partnership with Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) – Peace and Human Security Institute, the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) brought together experts and representatives of youth-led organization that work to prevent and counter violent extremism in Mindanao. The three-day event comprised of a series of lecture, workshop, and an educational tour to the ground zero of Zamboanga siege where militants established their camp during their unsuccessful attempt to control the city. Providing a dynamic avenue of for the youth to help build peace in their communities, participants translated their learning to policy and actionable recommendations to engage more youth in prevention of violent extremism.
The event, which was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), UNESCO Jakarta and UNESCO Bangkok, was organized in line with UNESCO’s Decision 197EX/46 prompting Member-States to develop strategies to prevent violent extremism. Its project design is a product of recommendations from its first leg held in Bayleaf Hotel, Manila in which participants highlighted the critical role of understanding the swiftly-evolving history of Mindanao in order to foster peace, and from consultations with local experts through WMSU Assistant Professor Ludivina Borja-Dekit. Student volunteers from WMSU-Youth Peace Mediators UNESCO Club also helped in the success of this event.