A joint meeting of ministers responsible for youth and foreign affairs have called for the engagement of young people in shaping the peace and security agenda on the continent starting at the national and regional level before being escalated on to the wider scale.
They were speaking at the just ended high-level ministerial conference on the role of Regional Economic Communities in promoting youth, peace and security agenda in the east and Horn of Africa, that was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya from 1 – 5 November 2021.
The aim of the conference was to promote the youth, peace and security agenda by advocating for more inclusive policies and meaningful engagement of young people in peacebuilding and conflict prevention mechanisms. It was jointly organized by the African Union working with COMESA, the Government of Kenya, and civil society organisations namely Save the Children, Life and Peace Institute and the Horn of Africa Youth Network.
Young people drawn from national youth councils and civil society organisations from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda participated and issued their own communique to the ministers.
In the Communique, they called for strengthening the implementation of the AU Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security. Specifically, they urged for speedy establishment and strengthening of fora that promotes inclusivity of various stakeholders to engage on matters of youth, peace and security.
Further, they called urgent action to address the root and structural causes of conflicts by strengthening early warning systems at national, regional and continental levels. They reckoned that this could be achieved by mainstreaming youth and encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution.
They urged stakeholders and all Member States to make tangible investment in provision of essential protection services including mental health and psychosocial support, life skills and addressing sexual and gender-based violence in the context of conflict.
The conference participants urged regional institutions to enhance information, communication and dissemination with stakeholders and further promote knowledge management. In this respect, they called for investment in capacity building of youth leaders, commitment to mobilization of resources for the national youth councils to execute their mandate while also strengthening accountability mechanisms.
The meeting was opened by Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Kenya Hon. Joseph Mucheru. Ministers who participated in the meeting were Hon. Mohammed Abdirizak Minister of Foreign Affairs and Hon. Hamza Saeed Hamza, Minister of Youths and Sports of Somalia and Hon. Muna Seid, State Minister of Women and Social Affairs, Ethiopia.
Uganda was represented by Dr Hassan Wasswa Galiwango, High Commissioner to Kenya, and Djibouti by its Counsellor to Kenya, Ms Hibaa-Haibado Ismael Housse. Others were Dr Rhuks Ako, representing the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security represented the AU and Ms Elizabeth Mutunga, Head of the Governance, Peace and Security, COMESA Secretariat.