Here is why the UN Security Council must listen to African youth

On 2nd October 2019, the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ms. Aya Chebbi briefed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on mobilizing youth towards the AU flagship project of Agenda 2063 to “Silence the Guns by 2020”. The debate was convened under the presidency of South Africa.

Ms. Aya Chebbi warned from the danger of the victimization narrative and emphasized on valuing African youth’s role and contribution in society, so “they won’t look for recognition somewhere else”.

The AU Youth Envoy also explained how “youth are hustling” and in constant struggle as “the most youthful population; 65 percent under 30 and yet the most insecure and marginalized” and demanded members of the UNSC for greater youth participation and leadership in conflict prevention and mediation as well as financing for youth-led peace building.
The AU Youth Envoy further highlighted the nexuses of peace and security with development, governance, inequality, climate change, health and diseases, like the Ebola virus. “African youth may escape the bullets but end up dying anyway if we don’t take action against Ebola and this will need our collective action in combating this scourge.”

Ms. Chebbi highlighted examples from youth who are replacing bullets with books in South Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia, Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, “building the Africa we want, borderless, multilingual & dynamic”. She added that “there is no pan-Africanism without feminism” and stressed the intersection with women, peace and security agenda including gender based violence, harmful practices and abduction of girls from schools.

The AU Youth Envoy ended with key recommendations on convening inter generational dialogues and promoting co-leadership, enhancing the capacities and leadership of youth to mobilize the largest continental campaign in translating commitments into action. “We should not let fear drive our decisions but more than ever we need a leader of courage that is not just responsive but empowering and preventive.”

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