Regional Youth Consultation on Project 2016 Year of Human Rights
With a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women
The African Union’s (AU) blueprint and roadmap for development in Africa – Agenda 2063 – envisions “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”. By placing citizens at the heart of efforts to attain continental integration, prosperity and development, Agenda 2063 marks a significant paradigm shift by acknowledging that sovereignty vests with the people. Agenda 2063 recognizes that “good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law” are critical enablers and drivers of integration, prosperity and development of Africa (Aspiration 3). Taking center stage in the Agenda 2063 is the engagement of young people in the development of Africa.
The AU’s increased commitment on youth engagement in the continent is highly being demonstrated through instruments such as the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the African Youth Charter; the AU and member states are increasingly becoming committed to channel the unique role of youth in the achievement of the vision for the continent. They are stepping away from categorizing youth as a “bulge” that need to be dealt with to considering youth as part of continental solutions to continental problems – most importantly keeping an open mind on what we can learn from youth to improve transparent, accountable and responsive governments.
However, African states have struggled with the influence of culture, the lack of political will and the sentiments from postcolonial and dictatorial mentality that have made it difficult for young people to be engaged. Even though, the history of young people’s participation in governance and human rights processes on the continent predates the colonial era, it is still a challenge for youth formations and groupings to be meaningfully engaged in their country's’ socio-cultural political system.
Current realities in the African continent depict that youth are becoming ever more engaged and aware of the inefficiencies and flaws of these mechanisms. Through new ways of information exchange, along with generational and technological changes, young people are provided with increased access to information that affects their present and future. As human rights violations continue to receive greater attention, governments, now more than ever, remain accountable to answer to the public’s concerns. This should be an indication to member states to reconsider young people’s involvement in human rights, moving away from a tokenistic engagement to giving them a safe space to be engaged constructively. In addition, with an increasing subscription to and maturity of democratic governance systems taking hold on the continent, the need for open dialogue with youth on human rights is indispensable.
Nonetheless, young people on the continent grapple with a number of challenges which impugn their full enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. These rights – including economic, social and political – remain a critical foundation for the full and active participation of young people in their societies as well as contribute to the transformation of the continent.
The AU’s African Governance Architecture (AGA) - Youth Engagement Strategy is an action-oriented document focused on elevating the African youth voices on issues that highly affect their present as well as their future. As this year commemorates the “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women” it is important to give these issues high ground as they are the centerpiece for the respect and protection of fundamental human rights in the continent.
In an effort to bring youth together and contribute to this agenda, four regional youth consultations are organized in Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern and Central Africa hoping to bring more than 120 young men and women together. The consultations will help provide a platform for aggregating youth concerns, insights and perspectives on advancing human rights on the continent and the roles young people can play. The consultations will also be an opportunity for youth to provide input for the 10 Year Human Rights Strategy, which will be a guiding framework for collective action by the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and member states aimed at strengthening the African human rights system and seeking to address the current challenges of the African human rights system. In addition, the consultations will provide youth with an opportunity to aggregate their voices, incites and realities into the Youth Engagement Strategy which will bring in the human rights based component to the human rights clusters within the governance structure.
Young people from across Africa will come together to discuss ways to contribute to human rights, women’s rights, governance, peace and security. The four regional consultations will be organized to mobilize youth in North, Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Africa. The Regional Consultations will be taking place over a six week period across the continent:
West Africa - Accra, Ghana - August 22-23rd, 2016
Southern Africa - Windhoek, Namibia - September 8-9, 2016
East & Central Africa - Kampala, Uganda - September 23-24, 2016
North Africa - Tunis, Tunisia - September 28-29, 2016
Each of the four regional consultations will be focused on four broad thematic areas. The proposed thematic areas which will be discussed in groups in each of the consultations include:
1. Young Women’s Rights
2. Governance, Peace, Security and Migration
3. Inclusion, Diversity Management and Popular Participation
4. Employment and Mobility
One continental consultation will be organized based upon the outcomes of the four regional consultations. The continental consultation will aim at gathering youth from the continent for validation of the outcomes from the regional consultations in addition it will be a capacity building programme of the African human rights system. Date of the continental consultation will be notified in due course.
The overall goal of the regional youth consultations is to provide a collaborative, open and inclusive space for young people to provide input into the African Union 10 Year Human Rights Strategy, which is envisaged as a major outcome of Project 2016.
The Open Call for Participants is now closed. Engage online using #DGTends