Forum allowed space for young people to focus on their leaders’ and governments’ AU commitments.
In its quest to support, advance, strengthen as well as compliment peace initiatives in Africa ACCORD supports the inclusion of youth in peace processes. ACCORD contributes towards youth involvement through training sessions on Conflict Management skills aimed at equipping the youth with crucial conflict management tools (conflict analysis, mediation, and negotiation and communication skills). These initiatives also include contributing towards existing knowledge on youth through outputs such as the Monograph series on youth.
Young people who are the majority constituting over 65% of the population in Africa are largely outside the decision-making process of their communities and countries. Various policies and regulations have been signed, but with minimal implementation, while there is disconnect between citizens and the State.
There is a growing consensus in the world that young people are the foundation for effective development, and that their active participation and involvement is key to structural development to address challenges faced today. Although there are various programmes aimed at engaging youth, such programmes have often viewed youth as beneficiaries of programmes and try moulding them to be leaders of tomorrow. However, there is growing need to move beyond the rhetoric that the youth are a problem to be solved (often referred to as the “ticking time bomb”) towards developing them as partners based on their having the capacity to act, possessing the necessary skills and therefore having the capability to change their own lives.
In the run up to the 27th African Union Summit, the State of the Union Coalition (SOTU) organised the My African Union Campaign-Continental Youth Forum, from 6-8 June 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, to encourage the engagement of the youth on relevant issues. The My African Union Campaign (@My_AfricanUnion, #MyAU, #BeTheVoice) is a campaign seeking to mobilise African citizens to be the voice that calls on African governments to implement the commitments they have adopted in the form of legal instruments and policy standards at the African Union (AU). It is hoped that through this campaign, African citizens will act/do/engage/speak-out on matters that affect their development, freedoms and rights.
The Forum allowed space for young people to voice their concerns and call on their leaders and governments to act on their commitments. Noting that the year 2016 was declared by the AU as the year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the rights of women, discussions noted need to close the gap between continental policy aspirations and conditions and positions of millions of African citizens in place for the entrenchment of good governance, fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. Through presentations and role plays, the forum served to encourage the youth to learn more about their rights and the African Union. The forum also challenged the youth to be innovative and avoid repeating the same mistakes as their predecessors. The Forum came up with a Resolution to be shared at the African Union Summit in Kigali. The Resolution highlighted the issues currently affecting African youth and provided recommendations for a way forward.
For more information on ACCORD’s work with youth please contact Sibusisiwe Nkosi, Programme Officer – Operations Unit, ACCORD on firstname.lastname@example.org.