Regional Peace and Stability: Comprehending therole & position of Pro Democratic Young leaders Lina Imran Peace and Security Department / African Union Commission October 23rd 2012
Brief Background on Youth in Africa• In 2005, it was estimated that Africa had an overall population of 922 million and the projection for 2010 was over 1 billion people. A disaggregation of this figure indicates that people below the age of 35 account for 70% of the total population (State of African Population, 2008). This signifies that children and youth constitute the majority of demographic dividend of the total population of Africa. According to the International Conference on Population and Development on the fifteen years African Regional Review Report (ICPD+15) (2009), Africa is predominantly a youthful continent.• Even though this fact has been recognized, the youth still remains invisible to a large extent in public policy. This is mainly because of lack of empowerment and the prevailing stereotype. Lack of empowerment such as; inadequate access to education and training, poor health, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, lack of decent jobs, and susceptibility to being caught up in conflict and violence, and insufficient representation in decision-making processes. The stereotypes say that the youth are; violent, dangerous, naïve, unprofessional, easily manipulated and so on. These characteristics ascribed to the youth have continued to shape the image and reputation of young people on the continent.• Since 1970, more than 30 wars have been fought in Africa; the vast majority of them are intra-state in origin. In 1996 alone, 14 of the 53 countries of Africa were afflicted by armed conflicts, accounting for more than half of all war-related death worldwide and resulting in more than 8 million refugees, returnees and displaced persons. As a result, African societies are widely perceived to suffer from chronic levels of violent conflict and crime. In this, humanity throughout history has disproportionately placed the burdens of war and violence on young people. This has led to the growing need of studying the relationship between the ‘youth bulge’ on the continent and the contemporary dynamics of armed violence and conflict.• African Youth Report 2009• UNSG Report 1998
APPROACHES WHY THE YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVE INVIOLENCE? • There are two strands of approaches that explain the involvement of youth in violence; the first one is Demography and the second one is Coercion. • In the demographic approach, young people fight because, quite simply, they are too many. Other explanations focus on coercion. According to this thesis, young people fight because they are forced to either by physical abduction, or because of a lack of other alternatives for survival. • The corollary of this is that young people are not really responsible for their choice to fight, and should be treated as victims rather than as perpetrators of violence. • However research shows that, demographic bulge is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for violence. Youth bulges have only been statistically linked to conflict and state failure when they coincide with poor governance, a declining economy, or states with a high degree of ethnic or religious polarity. Indeed, a large number of young people can be a tremendous asset to developing societies. However, if young people find that opportunities for employment are absent or blocked, that families cannot offer support, that authorities cannot protect them or offer justice, and that hard work and education offer few benefits, some may turn to extremist groups or rebel leaders who promise a brighter future or immediate rewards (Ibid). • UNDP, 2006
THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN PEACE BUILDING &CONFLICT PREVENTION• Young People play a substantial role in structural issues of peace building such as Inequality, poverty and unemployment through; Youth Empowerment, Peace Education and Resolving differences through dialogue• Youth Empowerment is mainly about enhancing the Capacity and skills building of young people through awareness building, education and various forms of trainings and workshops; and increase access to opportunities like that of employment that overtime shape their identity and future.• At the national and community levels, youth-led programmes develop creative responses to violence which take into special consideration the needs and preferences of youth. They also show a great outreach capacity to youth, especially those marginalised. peer-to-peer activities have proven to be effective and reach young people that government or adult-oriented NGOs cannot reach. One of their strengths lies in numbers and mobilisation power.• At the Regional level, Human Resource and Science and Technology department of the African Union Commission has primary mandate in following up with works and activities of young people across the continent, which ultimately aimed at empowering the young people at all levels. The Division devised continent wide programmes and activities that will enable the youth to acquire the required skills.• African Youth Charter (AYC); is legal and political document that provides a framework for youth empowerment. The Decade for Youth Development 2009-2018 and its plan of action iscommitment from DPoA which implements the AYC.• AUYV Programme was launched in December 2010 Nigeria. 1st batch training followed, 2nd batch training in Malabo as side even to the summit. Deployment is under process up on request from institutions, countries and AUC.• Conflict Prevention Mechanisms could be better harnessed by the young people at various levels of data collection and analysis process of Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) and other Regional processes such as CEWARN and USHAHIDI which is an youth led African platform that uses social media and mobile technology to create interactive data visualization that changed the game for crisis response.• http://africa-youth.org/auyvc
Enhancing Youth Employment• In Africa 30% of youth are unemployed. This is mainly due to; low skills, lack of work experience, limited access to network. It is also indicated that about 80% of the youth work in the informal economy where there is rampant;Low productivity, Underemployment and Vulnerability. “Youth account for a quarter of the world’s working- age population, but almost half of its unemployed. Across all countries, the unemployment rate is two to three times higher for young people than for adults and the world wide one in seven young people has no job. The particular tragedy for youth unemployment is that, like child malnutrition, it leads to life- long harm because it means foregoing the accumulation of the on-job skills and an employment history that would send positive signals to future employers. Besides the personal cost involved, youth unemployment has clear costs to society in terms of wasted talent, and the likelihood that disenchanted young people will turn to crime and violence.”• Therefore it’s important for the young people to be part of the Youth employment policy debates that are there to provide solution for enhancing job creation capacity in Africa.• AmartyaSen 2008 From Poverty to Power
THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT/ RESOLUTION• Transition Periods Good leadership in societies emerging from conflict is critical driver in the creation of good governance structures, determination of strategies for the equitable distribution of power, consolidation of peace and facilitation of transition from the emergency to the development phases of its reconstruction. Since, nation building processes involve important planning as well as implementation exercises that shape the Nation for years to come, the involvement of the young people in the processes of socio-economic and political settlements become utterly indispensable.
THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN POST CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT• African Union, PCRD policy defines it, as a comprehensive set of measure that seek to: address the needs of countries emerging from conflict, including the needs affected populations; prevent escalation of disputes; avoid relapse in to violence; address the root causes of conflict; and consolidate sustainable peace.• Each post-conflict recovery requires an integrated human security framework, developed in full partnership with the national and local authorities.Post Conflict Reconstruction period could serve as an entry point for the youth to engage positively through;• AU Policy on PCRD, 2006
THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN POST CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT• Humanitarian/ Emergency assistance: comes immediate post-war situation where the state capacity is most limited. The youth volunteers and aid workers could play a positive role in life-saving and sustaining assistance efforts across the continent.• Socio-Economic Reconstruction and Development: is a multi-dimensional process that contributes to improved living conditions, improved ability to meet basic needs, such as health, education, and food and reduction of poverty and inequality. Given the high number of young people around the continent they could be an integral force of socio- economic development in addressing the threats to livelihood and income generation; enhance agricultural production and guarantee food security; promote small scale business and financing; participate in formulation of policies and also address preventable diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.• SSR and DDR Programs• Mainly former combatants are young people. It is through DDR programs that they will be able to acquire skills development in reconciliation and coexistence to re shape their future and find jobs. Even some could be given adequate trainings and re-integrated in to security forces of the country.• The young people could also play a major role in the activities such as; consolidation of efficient, accountable and professional defense and security forces operating under responsible civilian control and oversight mechanisms.
Why do we focus on young people?• Young people are more open to change• "Young people are searching for new ideas and open to new challenges while adults have already formed their dogmatic discourses.• Young people are future-oriented• Young people inherit the past from older generations. In many cases, they have not witnessed war directly but their parents and schools have passed down stories. They will have to live in the world that others built. Since they have more time ahead, they are willing to try alternatives and are more bound to “forget” the past than those who were directly involved in a painful moment of history.• Young people are idealistic and innovative• Many revolutions were started and led by young students or activists. Students often have more time to think, read, meet colleagues and develop ideas. They also have more time to engage different activists groups.• Young people are courageous• Young people are also less experienced and willing to try new adventures. This risk-taking nature combined with a belief in a cause and a situation that cannot get worse pushes them to be courageous, especially when others believe that change is impossible.
Practical Challenges the Youth Face• Narrow perspective of youth participation can also narrow areas of intervention.• Lack of Coordination between and amongst the AU programmes and projects.• Absence of Youth Desk in most of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to coordinate, implement and give direction to mainstream youth programmes• Ministries in charge have multi-oriented portfolio with youth empowerment as the weakest part (Human Resource, technical & Financial support, very low investment on youth)• Weak domestic funding for youth development programme• Weak communication strategies between the concerned stakeholders.
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