In support of African Union (AU) Office of the Youth Envoy (OYE) call for collaboration on convening Inter-Generational Dialogues (IGDs) on Youth Silencing the Guns (STG) and the UN Secretary General’s call to hold UN75 dialogues, ACCORD working with Global Peace held a virtual IGD on the 15th of September 2020 in Gaborone, Botswana. This IGD aimed to bring together diverse groups – especially those not often heard to shape a new global dialogue and crowdsource priorities and solutions to the challenges the world’s facing. The IGD was conducted under the theme of ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020” in terms of the AU’s Agenda 2063 policy document.
The discussions in the IGD noted that the average Motswana is twenty-four (24) years old, but the average decision maker in Botswana is sixty (60) years old. This is where there is a disconnect, as the average Motswana is not included in decision making, thus young people feel marginalized and turn to violence to make their voices heard.
Moreover, it was stressed that the youth must believe in themselves and believe that they can solve the problems they face. As young people are being exploited in many conflict situations, for the benefit of the older generation. In this regard, it was highlighted that Botswana has a strong and independent legal system compared to most countries in Africa where there are poor legal infrastructures and lawlessness is prevalent. Some of the key recommendations from this IGD called for the older generation to provide mentorship to the younger generation, further highlighted the need to develop programmes aimed at empowering young people through leadership capacity building and skills training in the technology innovation space, and emphasised the importance of leadership being focused on servitude to the people, and not to oneself or their family. Additionally, the importance of effectively implementing policy which already exists was stressed, it was noted that there is an abundance of sound policy, but not much implementation of said policy. Even the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not effectively being met by Governments, or other multi-lateral organizations, and it was mentioned in this IGD, numerous times, that these bodies are only as good as poets if they are unable to implement policy.
In closing the dialogue, the importance of building strong leadership qualities in young people was stressed. Politics should not only be economically attractive but should also be useful, relevant, and evolving. For all the issues African youth face on the continent, creating opportunities for all is most important. If young people have food, a sustainable income, and the comfort of lifestyle, then there will not only be common ground to discuss the issues they face, in dialogues like these, but there will also be a reluctance to turn to violence. Empowering the youth in this regard, serves ACCORD’s strategic objective to strengthen the capacities of youth to participate in peace and security initiatives.