In late May 2013, ACCORD attended and participated in a series of forums and events in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) / African Union (AU). A Youth Forum themed ‘Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance’ (22–24 May 2013), hosted by the AU Commission in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), featured as one of the key events in what is to be an ongoing, year-long series of commemorative activities.
The forum specifically sought to take stock of the last 50 years of African Unity in relation to the frameworks, developments and issues pertaining to and impacting upon the continent’s most valuable resource – its youth. The forum further sought to generate ideas and debate on the ways in which a new peace and security trajectory may be charted such that the continent may reap the ‘youth dividend’ by 2063.
ACCORD’s Peacemaking Unit Coordinator Ms Natacha Kunama and South Sudan Initiative Programme Officer Mr Emile Yanaki Taban presented their views at this forum, as part of a panel discussion dedicated to the theme of ‘Peace, Security and the African Renaissance: A Youth Perspective’. In particular, Ms Kunama underscored the necessity of youth participation in peacebuilding processes, whilst alluding to the peace-development nexus vis-á-vis youth and conflict. Mr Taban contributed by highlighting certain issues surrounding the divisive nature of national identities and the role of ethnicity – particularly in post-conflict countries such as South Sudan. It was then argued that these issues further illustrate the urgent need for continental integration in the spirit of pan-Africanism. The panel also featured contributions by Ms Lina Imran from the AU Commission and Ms Tabitha Kentaro Sabiiti from the All Africa Conference of Churches Liaison Office to the AU.
A Children and Youth Assembly was then held on Friday 24 May at the UNECA Compound, which provided a platform for an intergenerational dialogue between youth leaders from across the continent as well as a number of prominent African Heads of State and Government. Overall, the Youth Forum underscored the increasing impetus placed upon the continent’s young people to affect the future they would like to see in 2063, and dually highlighted the commitment of the AU’s leadership to ensure the input of young people in tackling the challenges that confront us all.