ACCORD, in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), co-hosted a High-Level Ministerial Conference on the Role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and Governments in Promoting the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda. The Conference that took place from 25 – 29 July, in Harare, Zimbabwe, also included the African Union (AU) Youth for Peace Africa Program (Y4P), the Southern Africa Partnership for the Prevention of Conflict (SAPPC), Save the Children, Horn of Africa Youth Network (HoAYN) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) as partners.
The RECs, RMs, relevant Ministries and National Youth Councils in the Southern Africa Region had the opportunity to deliberate on ways to improve support towards promoting and investing in young peacebuilders in the region. The Conference created an advocacy platform for stronger and inclusive policy formulation, while sharing best practices regarding youth empowerment. The inter-generational discussions held, aimed to inform policy reviews and to encourage the implementation and adoption of international and regional legal and policy frameworks on YPS, including National Action Plans (NAPs).
The youth representatives outlined key recommendations for RECs, RMs and Ministerial representatives, highlighting the need to expedite the establishment and strengthening of fora that promote inclusivity for various stakeholders to engage on matters of YPS. A further recommendation was for decision-makers to identify, address and prioritise the formulation of policy and legislative frameworks to ensure that youth participation is embedded and implemented through affirmative action at all levels of governance. The youth also called for efforts to mainstream youth into national peace infrastructures; advance technological access as a key platform for furthering the YPS agenda; and prioritise civic and peace education.
ACCORD continues to strengthen the role of multi-dimensional stakeholders to deal with complex conflicts wherein, youth feature as a key constituency. Through the collaborative efforts in convening this conference, ACCORD furthered its work towards enhancing the role of youth to prevent, mitigate and resolve complex conflicts.