On 23 April 2022, more than 350 young women and men from across Africa participated in the Continental Dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security, hosted by the Government of Burundi. In its capacity as Chair of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) for April 2022, the Government of Burundi hosted the dialogue in Bujumbura and online, with the support of UNDP.
The dialogue aimed to create a space for the 150 virtual and 200 in person participants to connect by sharing practices and innovative ideas for the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda, both in Burundi and in Africa. With the use of digital tools, young people were able to network and engage beyond cultural or linguistic differences and contribute meaningfully to fruitful discussions on their crucial role as agents of peace in peacebuilding, social cohesion, stability and governance.
The initiative aligns with the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and its 10-year implementation plan, adopted in June 2020 by the PSC of the African Union. It also builds on the recommendations made in the UN Secretary General’s report on youth, peace and security (March 2022), which recalls that “inclusive partnerships with young peacebuilders are crucial to the youth and peace and security agenda and should be prioritized by all partners”.
The key objective of the dialogue was to promote meaningful engagement and active participation of youth in peacebuilding processes and in the formulation of peace and security policy and action plans at the national, regional and continental levels.
The dialogue was co-facilitated by 4 AU Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAP) and the AU Youth Envoy, who provided valuable insights during the forum. During the breakout sessions, the young participants made concrete and practical recommendations and shared innovative solutions addressing the five pillars of the Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda: participation, prevention, protection, partnerships, and disengagement and reintegration.
Diana Paul Chando, AU Youth Ambassador for Peace for Eastern Africa, encouraged the participants to be part of the solution and pro-actively participate in decision-making processes: “Change starts with you, challenge yourself!”, she urged.
A key outcome of the dialogue is the Bujumbura Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa, which captures the recommendations that emerged from the discussions. The declaration was delivered by Achaleke Christian Leke, AU Youth Ambassador for Peace for the Central African region, and adopted by the Peace and Security Council on 25 April in the presence of His Excellency Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi.
The declaration emphasizes “the importance for youth to be provided with opportunities of learning more languages with a view to opening up wider spaces for communication and engagement” and encourages “youth to wisely use social media platforms to search for opportunities, promote peace and mobilize youth participation in national agendas”.
Also in attendance at the PSC meeting were Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Head of the United Nations Office to African Union (UNOAU), and Xavier Crespin, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in Burundi, who both acknowledged in their statements UNDP’s positive contributions towards advancing the youth, peace and security agenda in Africa.
The activities in Burundi are aligned to UNDP’s vision and efforts to co-create with youth and leave no youth behind. The new UNDP Governance and Peacebuilding Regional Framework (Reimagining Governance and Peacebuilding in Africa) reaffirms the need to invest in young people’s creativity, potential and talents to achieve sustainable results with regard to peace and development in Africa. In particular, UNDP promotes the active participation of youth in peaceful transition processes, in joint efforts for stabilization and in all phases of the electoral processes.
Building on the momentum created by the adoption of the Bujumbura Declaration, UNDP will continue to support national stakeholders, youth organizations and young peacebuilders across the continent through the development of National Action Plans, promoting inclusive tools, and enabling the participation of young people in governance and peacebuilding mechanisms at all levels.
Written by Pauline Deneufbourg, Youth Empowerment Specialist, UNDP Africa