About Youth Initiatives
Young people make up the largest population group in Africa and, by 2030, 42% of the population of the continent will be between 15 and 24 years old. This data is not to be overlooked – especially when considering the great potential of the group to promote the culture of peace and non-violence. In fact, the role of the youth in achieving peace and security is now a major aspect of the global, regional, national and local political agendas.
According to the Article 17 of the African Youth Chart, young African leaders have an important responsibility and capability to heal the physical and psychological scars that result from armed conflict, wars and violence among peoples - a role that definitely goes beyond rhetoric. Youth’s meaningful capacity of advancing peacebuilding, preventing and resolving conflicts through “the promotion of intercultural learning, civic education, tolerance, human rights education and democracy, mutual respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, the importance of dialogue and cooperation, responsibility, solidarity and international cooperation” is admirable and must be strengthened.
At the same time youth is Africa’s greatest human resource, it’s also the group that suffers the most from unemployment and socioeconomic exclusion. So, on another note, recognizing their marginalization is fundamental for targeted policy-making, considering it’s a detrimental phenomenon to building sustainable peace and countering violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism.
Removing structural obstacles to effective youth participation is essential for the effective involvement and participation of young people in the establishment of lasting peace and reconciliation, as well as in national and diaspora development processes.
To empower African youth’s civic engagement and participation in these journeys, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourages and supports a myriad of initiatives. The Panafrican Youth Network for a Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP), for example, was created in December 2014 and is active to date. About 60 founding members, including numerous African Youth Councils, Youth Organizations and Diaspora Networks, joined UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker’s Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation (WPDI) to mobilize the necessary tools and resources for young leaders to stay actively engaged in pacifist processes, from their design to implementation and follow-up.
The Commitment of African Youth for the Culture of Peace, signed in 2019 by the prominent young leaders who participated in the first edition of the Biennale of Luanda, recognizes that the diaspora constitutes an intrinsic part of the movement for a more pacific Africa - both as active agents of change and beneficiaries of the efforts.
On what concerns their civic engagement, young people from the African diaspora represent a political force whose power to shape national discourse and action on major issues, like peacemaking and conflict prevention, must be reckoned. Especially with the advent of globalization and social media, the diaspora youths have grown an important capacity of applying pressure to influence the behavior of national governments and it must be leveraged.
With the second edition of the Biennale of Luanda, young African leaders from the diaspora once again joined representatives from all of the African countries to contribute, design and implement creative policy solutions for the culture of peace and non-violence at the framework of the Intergerational Dialogue.