8629th Meeting (AM)

African Youth Activists Call for Greater Inclusion of Young People in Continent’s Development, as Security Council Takes up ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’ Initiative

Youth activists from Africa, sharing stories of hardship and determination and of choosing peace over conflict, called for the engagement and inclusion of millions of their peers in building a fairer, more peaceful future on the continent, as the Security Council today debated how to mobilize young people towards the African Union initiative “Silencing the Guns by 2020”.

African youth leaders joined the Council’s 15 members, along with the Secretary‑General’ Special Adviser on Africa and a delegate from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), in a debate on mobilizing youth towards “Silencing the Guns by 2020”, the African Union initiative supported by the United Nations.  Recounting their own experiences, the young activists spotlighted peaceful youth uprisings in Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, among other countries, stressing that Africa’s young people refuse to remain silent in the face of challenges ranging from war and terrorism to unemployment and climate change.

“First and foremost, this is a question of narrative,” said Aya Chebbi, the African Union’s Special Envoy on Youth.  Recalling that in 2013 her 22‑year‑old cousin was recruited by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Tunisia, she said the experience led her to pursue a dissertation on youth recruitment to violent extremism.  She learned that when young people draw the world’s attention they are too often spoken of as perpetrators of violence.  In reality, she said, African youth — the continent’s most informed, resilient and coolest generation — are hustlers who refuse to resign themselves to the hardships of their situations.

Hafsa Ahmed, Co‑Founder and Chairperson of the civil society group Naweza, speaking via video teleconference from Kenya, described how her peaceful Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh was pulled into a cycle of violence following attacks by extremists and police roundups.  She and her friends began publicizing abuses using smartphones.  In her work, she noticed young people building confidence, shedding stereotypes, finding alternatives to crime and starting businesses.  Underlining the need to pay more attention to the broad diversity of young people, she called on the United Nations to create more opportunities for them in international processes.

Victor Ochen, Founder and Executive Director of the African Youth Initiative Network, speaking via video teleconference from Uganda, recounted a childhood turned upside down by war, leaving him forced to struggle just to survive.  However, after his brother was abducted in 2003 and never seen again, he decided to become a peacebuilding activist, rather than fight the warmongers.  Urging Council members to consider the perspectives of youth who hold onto guns as their only means of livelihood and security, he said many also feel a deep sense of frustration and powerlessness.  Guns can only be silenced by intensified efforts to improve livelihoods and prevent conflict, he stressed.

Also briefing the Council, Bience Philomena Gawanas, Special Adviser to the Secretary‑General on Africa, pointed out that Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with 20 per cent of its population — some 220 million people — between the ages of 15 and 24.  To harness that demographic dividend, urgent efforts are needed to combat threats to peace and security, including radicalization, violent extremism, sexual violence, xenophobia and forced migration.  Warning against hard‑fisted policies driven by false stereotypes, she drew attention to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its Master Road Map to silence the guns by 2020, calling for enhanced support from the United Nations, regional groups and the private sector.

As Council members took the floor, many voiced optimism that Africa’s rapidly expanding youth bulge can bring positive changes to the continent.  However, some speakers also cautioned that the same demographic upheaval, if not supported, could pose grave threats.  Several delegates outlined their countries’ tangible support to youth‑centred initiatives in Africa, including entrepreneurship training programmes and the provision of scholarships.  Meanwhile, others drew attention to the recent waves of youth protests around the globe to combat such challenges as inequality, political repression and climate change.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire called for more investments in the energy and creativity of Africa’s young people as well as their engagement in political processes around the continent.  Noting that his country created a Youth Parliament for that purpose, he called for special efforts control arms flows and boost employment, which is critical to stem youth radicalization and their participation in transnational crime.

Striking a similar tone, Peru’s delegate said the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will help address many of the main driving factors of conflicts and youth radicalization.  Warning that conflicts represent the main form of employment and a potential source of upward mobility for far too many young people around the globe, he called for strengthened efforts to more actively engage youth and women, as well as refugees, internally displaced persons and other marginalized groups.

China’s representative joined other speakers in welcoming the major development contributions being made by young people across Africa — even as they are often marginalized and confronted by such challenges as conflict and poverty.  Calling for African solutions to African problems, he urged countries to build mutual trust and pursue “win‑win” development outcomes.  “Empty rhetoric is no solution to any problem,” he stressed, calling instead for tangible action and citing China’s support for youth entrepreneurship and innovation projects in Africa.

The representative of South Africa, which holds the Council Presidency for October, spotlighted the crucial role to be played by the Security Council itself.  Drawing attention to resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) in support of youth engagement in international peace and security, he also called for stronger cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations and redoubled efforts to train youth as peacebuilders.

Also speaking today were representatives of Poland, United States, Germany, Belgium, France, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic, Russian Federation and Indonesia.

The Permanent Observer of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 12:57 p.m.


BIENCE PHILOMENA GAWANAS, Special Adviser to the Secretary‑General on Africa, emphasized that silencing the guns in Africa is not a choice but an absolute necessity.  Highlighting the shared goal of “leaving no one behind”, she pointed out that Africa is the world’s youngest continent with 20 per cent of its population — some 220 million people — between the ages of 15 and 24; this is projected to rise to 350 million in the next decade.  To harness that demographic dividend, urgent efforts are required to combat threats to peace and security on the continent, including radicalization, violent extremism, terrorism, sexual violence, xenophobia, cyber insecurity, organized crime, forced migration and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  Also critical will be efforts to address the root causes of such challenges, such as exclusion, inequality, high unemployment rates and climate change.

Spotlighting the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2018 report, “The Missing Peace:  Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security”, she said too often perspectives on youth are distorted by stereotypes that associate them with violence and conflict.  “These myths have triggered a ‘policy panic’, producing un‑nuanced policy responses that involve hard‑fisted security approaches that are counterproductive and not cost‑effective,” she said.  However, the majority of young people — including those in Africa — are peaceful and enterprising.  They are agents and partners of peace.  Drawing attention to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the African Youth Charter, she said the onus is on Governments, the private sector, civil society and the United Nations to work together to implement those normative instruments.

“For Africa’s youth, the time for effective and meaningful implementation of these instruments is now,” she continued, noting that young people are demanding urgent action and making their voices heard across the continent.  For example, youth in South Sudan secured a place in the country’s governance structure.  African countries, meanwhile, have taken important steps aimed at removing structural barriers that prevent or limit the inclusion and active engagement of youth in peace and security, political governance and socioeconomic development.  Some countries have put in place laws and initiated campaigns to promote youth political participation, such as the “Not Too Young to Run” law in Nigeria and the “Vote 18” campaign in Cameroon.

Outlining the African Union’s “Master Road Map of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020”, she said it includes work to address the bulging youth unemployment crisis through a “1 million jobs by 2021” campaign and other youth development strategies.  The United Nations is working in partnership with African member States, the African Union and regional economic commissions — as well as other regional and subregional bodies and the African private sector and civil society — to support meaningful youth inclusion and participation in the continent’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes.  The Peacebuilding Fund opened an annual special funding window, known as the Youth Promotion Initiative, which has already invested $28.8 million in 11 African countries.

She also drew attention to various initiatives supported by the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The private sector — especially information and communications technology (ICT) companies — could be engaged to provide free SMS‑based platforms through which youth can share their views and participate in peacebuilding.  At the regional level, the African Union and regional economic commissions should promote the inclusion of youth in their peace and security programmes and processes.  United Nations country teams should ensure and promote synergies between national Sustainable Development Goals implementation plans and Council resolutions 2250 (2015) — on increasing youth in decision‑making — and 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  To further consolidate such work, the Council itself may consider creating an informal expert group on youth, peace and security, she added.

AYA CHEBBI, African Union Special Envoy on Youth, recalled that in 2013 her 22‑year‑old cousin was recruited by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) — an experience that strayed far from her own, despite their very similar backgrounds.  Her cousin’s recruitment raised questions that eventually led her to pursue a dissertation on youth recruitment to violent extremism.  “First and foremost, this is a question of narrative,” she stressed, voicing regret that when young people draw the world’s attention they are too often spoken of as perpetrators of violence.  Instead, African youth do not resign themselves to the hardships of their situation but are using their agency and creativity to “build the Africa we want”, she stated.

Calling for a shift in the world’s negative narratives — of which many young people internalized themselves — she described the human capital and talent of African youth as “the driving force of our continent”.  In fact, Africa’s young people are today the most informed, resilient and coolest generation.  Since 2010 waves of youth‑led peaceful change have swept the continent, demanding their legitimate rights.  “We must see these youth movements, uprisings and activism […] as an opportunity to channel that energy into positive change and engagement in peacebuilding,” she emphasized, spotlighting recent movements in Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, among others.

“We have a generation trapped in the state of waithood — waiting for adulthood — because they are in a constant negotiation to find their political and financial freedom,” she continued.  Many youths across Africa are barely surviving.  Yet despite their lack of resources they are hustling.  Drawing attention to the critical nexus between those efforts and Africa’s broader development, she said investments in young people are both strategic and critical.  A nexus also exists between youth issues and education and health care, because in the absence of those services violent groups become economic and social actors.  Reflecting on her work across the continent, she underscored that youth are determined to make the continent safer and more secure.

She also cited examples of youth‑driven initiatives, recalling the first open session of the African Union on youth, peace and security in 2018, which subsequently resulted in a continental framework on the matter.  In addition, the bloc is working to end such harmful practices as female genital mutilation and child marriage, which are part of a broader peace and security agenda.  There must be a greater engagement of both youth and women in such work, she stressed, highlighting the youth‑led #BringBackOurGirls campaign, launched in 2014 to locate 278 abducted Nigerian girls.  More work is needed to translate commitments into action regarding Council resolution 2457 (2019) on silencing the guns in Africa, she said, adding that the inclusion of women and young people as partners in the organ’s conflict prevention and sustaining peace agenda is also critical.

HAFSA AHMED, Co‑Founder and Chairperson of Naweza, speaking from Kenya via video teleconference, described how her peaceful Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh was pulled into a fearful cycle of violence after attacks by extremists, which was then followed by police roundups.  She and her friends started publicizing abuses using smartphones and then pursued volunteer activities before eventually becoming involved with the Life & Peace Institute which focuses on sustained dialogue to build relationships amongst divided communities, and between communities and police.  Through her work, she noticed young people building confidence, losing stereotypes, finding alternatives to crime and starting businesses.  Relations with police also improved.  However, challenges remain, she noted, pointing out the need to silence the guns outside of conflict zones, in urban areas.

She also stressed the need to pay attention to the diversity of youth in efforts to mobilize them.  The United Nations should create more opportunities for more, diverse young people in higher‑level international processes.  As well, the African Union should continue to strengthen its #Youth4Peace programme and member States should integrate the youth, peace and security agenda into their national development plans.  “I’d like to underline that we young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but we are already leaders right now and able to shoulder our responsibilities for a more prosperous peaceful and just world,” she emphasized.

VICTOR OCHEN, African Youth Initiative Network, speaking from Uganda via video teleconference, described how his childhood dreams for the future were cut short by war, followed by a long stay in displaced persons camps.  Like most children, he dreamed of studying to become a doctor, a pilot or a teacher.  However, he also waited anxiously for a time when his parents would be able to build a semi‑permanent home.  “When war came, everything turned upside down,” he said, describing life in a Ugandan displaced persons camp.  “We felt the whole world had forgotten us and we asked ourselves how we could fight against our disgraceful fate,” he recalled.

Each day, he was forced to struggle to survive being abducted, killed or going hungry, he continued.  His own brother was abducted in 2003 and never seen again.  However, instead of fighting the warmongers, he decided to become a peacebuilding activist.  “I chose peace,” he said, starting a peace club in the camp.  In 2005 he formed the African Youth Initiative Network to mobilize youth for peace activism.  As 2020 is not far away, he urged determined work to silence the guns by that time.  For that to happen, youth who hold onto their guns as the only means of security and livelihood must be taken into account.  How to enable peacemaking into something rewarding is therefore an essential question, he stressed, along with how to increase trust among Africans and reduce marginalization.

Unfortunately, anger is high among frustrated youth, along with unemployment and underemployment, as well as deep youth powerlessness, he pointed out.  Other challenges include the amount of money involved in war profiteering.  Guns can only be silenced if there is a united effort to improve livelihoods and if partnerships for peace become greater than military partnerships.  Intensified conflict prevention is also critical, particularly at the local level.  Instead of sanctions, national capacity‑building should be prioritized in conflict situations.  Land and resource struggles and other root causes must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.  Calling for a permanent African seat on the Security Council, he added that African youth are increasing and will become a force in the world.  It is necessary to ensure they become a positive force rather than a negative force.


JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) expressed support for the Peacebuilding Fund’s gender and youth promotion initiative, stating that youth leadership in peacebuilding should be encouraged alongside young people’s quest to become active agents of change.  The most constructive way to empower young people and ensure they are not radicalized is to offer them credible and constructive ways to contribute to their communities.  If youth remain excluded from peacebuilding efforts, then instability and extremism will remain serious threats.  There is simply no alternative to investing in young people to ensure durable peace in Africa, she said, emphasizing that tackling the root causes of conflict requires ownership of African Governments and communities as well as international support.

KELLY CRAFT (United States), observing that every culture loves their children, said it was for that reason the “Silencing the Guns” initiative strikes such a powerful chord with all Security Council members.  “Discussions on youth and violence are not abstract… they strike to the very roots of our humanity,” she said.  Africa is brimming with potential in its youth and the international community must find a way to unlock that potential.  She urged all Member States to uphold resolutions that prevent illicit flows of weapons in conflict situations.  Policies that favour political elites in such countries as South Sudan must be changed; long‑serving political leaders on the continent must accept limits on power.  National Governments must take into account the result of all their policies on youth.  In the international sphere, the voices of youth activists must be heard.  When young people see a path to dignity, they can work to achieve their dreams.  Noting the significant infrastructure aid provided by her country to African nations, she urged more investment in the infrastructure of youth.  “Let all of us invest in the coolest generation, so all that we can all benefit from silencing the guns,” she said.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), affirming the importance of supporting African young people to invest their energy and creativity towards the prevention of conflicts, underscored that it is equally important to engage them in political processes that lead to peace.  In that regard, his country has created a Youth Parliament that represents all parts of the country due to a network of partner associations.  As well, the fight against unemployment is critical for stemming radicalization of youth and participation in transnational crime.  Therefore, it is necessary to invest more in education, training and creation of conditions favourable to entrepreneurship and decent jobs.  While combined international action is necessary for the control of arms, a priority should be putting into place national strategies.  For that reason, his country has established a national judicial framework under the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials and the Arms Trade Treaty.  To support all such efforts, he urged adequate support from the African Union and its international partners to build capacity in regional organizations.  He also urged the Security Council and the international community to fully support the African Union initiative, “Silencing the Guns”.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) noted that today’s meeting is taking place a week after hundreds of thousands of young people marched in cities around the world, including New York, and demanded action on climate change.  Germany has been fighting against the spread of weapons and ammunitions — the “hard fuel” of conflicts — in Africa as a priority of its Council membership.  It partnered with the African Union to cut the flow of weapons into conflict zones, looking into how its experience in supporting small arms control in the Western Balkans could be helpful to ECOWAS in their fight against illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.  Young people who grow up in conflict settings, are deprived of education and economic opportunities, and lack faith in Government institutions are at a high risk of joining extremist groups.  His country, in efforts to empower youth to be agents of change and a peaceful future, is supporting a project in Bamako, Mali, which engages them in such cultural activities as hip‑hop, rap and modern dance as alternatives to what extremist and violent groups offer.  “Youth engagement is not just a nice way of bringing young people into the United Nations.  It is a crucial factor for sustaining peace and security,” he said.

ZHANG JUN (China) noted that young people in Africa are making major contributions to the continent’s development — even as they are often marginalized and confronted by such as challenges as conflict and poverty.  It is important to find African solutions to African problems and engage young people in all those efforts.  Calling for the promotion of peace through culture based on the principle of mutual respect, he urged countries to build mutual trust and pursue “win‑win” development outcomes.  Indeed, development is the foundation for building and maintaining sustainable peace.  His country is in full support for the implementation of Agenda 2063 as well as the African Union’s efforts to eliminate the root causes of conflict.  “Empty rhetoric is no solution to any problem,” he stressed, calling instead for tangible action.  Among other support, China funds a range of youth entrepreneurship and innovation projects in Africa and provides some 50,000 Government‑sponsored scholarships and exchange programmes.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) echoed expressions of optimism that Africa’s rapidly expanding youth bulge can bring positive changes across the continent.  However, he warned that the same demographic upheaval, if not supported, risks posing grave threats.  Calling for equal access to quality education and decent jobs — which are crucial to creating an environment supportive of young people and conducive to peace — he outlined Belgium’s support to various countries in Africa.  For example, it currently supports entrepreneurship projects in Morocco and technological training in Burkina Faso.  “We must recognize young people as full‑fledged participants”, including in the Council’s work, and shift attitudes accordingly, he stressed.  In that context, he spotlighted such regional partnerships as the African Union‑European Union Cooperation Hub, which promotes youth engagement in peace and security.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France), stressing the importance of intergenerational solidarity in addressing climate change and other contemporary challenges, affirmed the strong engagement of her country with Africa based on a partnership that prioritizes youth.  A broad approach to peacebuilding is necessary, she said, voicing her support for the initiative, “Silencing the Guns”.  She also praised the actions of African youth and their use of social media, speaking particularly of events in Tunisia, where she had been based previously.  However, young people are too often sidelined and seen as trouble‑makers, with young women often marginalized in the social and political spheres.  She called for respect for all human rights of youth and for their voices to be heard at all levels, including in the United Nations.  France has prioritized education in development assistance, she said, urging all stakeholders to put youth front and centre in development.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said that his country is ready to support African countries to overcome obstacles to silencing the guns by 2020.  Strategies need to be developed to meet development challenges, including the marginalization of youth which increases the numbers of young people joining gangs.  Welcoming the inclusion of youth in United Nations activities, he stressed the necessity of counteracting the influence of conflict on youth as well as the harm done by forced displacement.  The root causes of radicalization must be addressed as well, including poverty, marginalization and unemployment.  Welcoming increased attention to youth by regional organizations, he said he looked forward to the launching of the African Youth Action plan, adding that young people must be given the space to participate in all politically significant processes.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) affirmed the need to counteract the “problem narrative” that too often is attributed to youth, calling instead for their empowerment.  He urged all parties in South Sudan to ensure that youth are not drawn into the conflict there.  As access to education is particularly important in empowering youth, his country has allotted funds for education in conflict zones, he said, spotlighting the harm being done to children in such places as Cameroon when conflict keeps them out of school.  Africa’s youth not only deserves a role in peacemaking, they are critical for success in such efforts.  He noted initiatives for participation in politics in such places as Nigeria, which has the campaign “Not Too Young to Run”.  However, in order to be able to contribute, Africa’s youth need to have basic services and need to be protected from violence.  He pledged continuation of the United Kingdom’s strong engagement with Africa and its youth.

JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea), recalling that the Council adopted resolution 2457 (2019) under his delegation’s presidency, noted that Equatorial Guinea plans to a host a conference on the same topic in November.  Emphasizing that conflicts around the world prevent people from making the most of their potential, he said African countries must address both their symptoms and causes.  That requires efforts to fight poverty and reduce youth unemployment, thereby eliminating the breeding grounds for violent extremism on the continent.  Such efforts often involve complicated regional and ethnic dynamics.  Sustainable Development Goal 16 underlines the importance of inclusive decision‑making and requires that young people be meaningfully included as builders of peace.  Adding that their experiences and views are also crucial in implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, he went on to call for more investments in education and skills development aimed at helping young people meet today’s employment challenges.

LUIS UGARELLI (Peru) said regional efforts to eradicate conflicts in Africa are closely aligned with the global sustainable development and sustaining peace agendas.  Indeed, implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will address many of the main driving factors of conflicts and youth radicalization.  The world’s youth population currently stands at 2.2 billion and armed conflicts represent the main form of employment and a potential source of upward mobility for far too many young people around the globe.  In that context, he called for efforts to more actively engage youth and women, as well as refugees, internally displaced persons and other marginalized groups.  Young people in particular are perfectly placed to contribute to the resolution of conflicts, he pointed out.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) welcomed the peacebuilding framework being established by the African Union.  It is essential for young people in Africa to have significant participation in conflict‑resolution processes.  He called for youth organizations and individuals to have adequate support for that purpose, noting that his country has worked with countries, including Equatorial Guinea, on such matters.  Regional and national institutions must ensure inclusivity in mediation for conflict prevention.  In addition, member States of the African Union must fully comply with their commitments under international treaties to restrict the flow of small arms and light weapons.  He also expressed hope that more young people will be able to participate in Security Council meetings, as his country had ensured during its presidency.  Increased governmental transparency, with openness to youth organizations in all areas, would further encourage youth engagement with peacemaking in Africa.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) affirmed that African youth are critical for silencing the guns, particularly given their percentage of the population.  He welcomed efforts of the African Union Peace and Security Council to ensure young people are engaged in that regard.  At the same time, he noted obstacles, such as the vulnerability of youth to radicalization, particularly in areas characterized by socioeconomic difficulties.  It is particularly important to combat radicalization online and to promote a culture of peace and tolerance among young people.  Social integration of young people, through training and mentoring, is also important.  His country is ready to share its experience with combating the spread of radicalization among young people and is also ready to expand its support to education on the continent, with upcoming conferences moving those efforts forward.

MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia) said the international community needs to help young people — especially former members of armed groups and those whom have become refugees — tap into economic opportunities.  It is crucial to engage youth in efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and organized crimes and ensure their participation in transitional justice initiatives.  In addition, national Governments, regional actors and the entire United Nations system must work together in clearly defined focus areas to accelerate progress towards the realization of the “Silencing the Guns” initiative.  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for example, is focusing on digital skill development and weaving youth engagement into the region’s policy discourse.  As well, mindsets must change so youth are not seen merely as victims or perpetrators of violence, but powerful agents of change whom can positively help maintain and promote durable peace and stability.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, stressing that the continent should take advantage of its youth bulge.  “Member States have the responsibility to create enabling environments for the youth to participate fully and substantively in the development of their respective countries and in peacebuilding and peace processes in areas of conflict,” he said, citing Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) in support of youth assuming such roles.  Highlighting the importance of stronger cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in silencing the guns in Africa, he said that the Union’s Commission is in the process of appointing Ambassadors for Peace from each of the five regions on the continent to promote key priorities of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security, which are guided by the African Union Youth Charter and Security Council resolution 2250 (2015).  It is imperative to train youth as peacebuilders, but this cannot be the responsibility of any one organization, he said, calling on the Council, regional organizations and other actors to institute a conflict prevention mechanism to involve youth in the promotion of the culture of peace.

JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE, Permanent Observer for the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), underscoring that silencing the guns is a priority of the Heads of State and Government in her region, described the damage caused by the proliferation of weapons and the spread of armed groups involved in unspeakable crimes.  Noting the adoption of the Kinshasa Convention, a regional convention to control small arms and light weapons, she stressed that the mobilization of youth in her region must be done under the aegis of the partnership between the region and the United Nations and the African Union.  Such synergy is necessary to achieve the silencing of the guns by 2020.  She also highlighted the close collaboration of ECCAS with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa in achieving the silencing the guns agenda.

Root causes of conflict must be addressed to end the cycle of violence involving armed groups and end the vulnerability of young people to recruitment, she continued.  Participation of youth under the framework of the Kinshasa Convention must be increased.  In addition, investment must be made in training and creating decent jobs.  A set of instruments for that purpose must be strengthened and supported under the African Union.  ECCAS needs assistance in creating dialogue between young people, implementing best practices and training young leaders.  An improved tax and land use framework must also be instituted in favour of youth.  The drug economy and radicalism must be continuously fought.  With support of partners and information exchange on best practices in all those areas, she expressed confidence that the Central African Region could successfully engage young people in building a better future.

For information media. Not an official record.