It is also a time to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
By Davis Akamopurira
KAMPALA - International Youth Day is commemorated annually, on August 12.
It serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world's youth.
It is also a time to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today's global society.
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible
for Youth in Lisbon, August 8 - 12, 1998 that August 12, is declared
International Youth Day.
Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution in 2015, there is growing recognition that as agents of change, young people's inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly, is the key to building and sustaining peace.
The important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts and are key
constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
The theme for International Youth Day 2018 is "Safe Spaces for Youth".
Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities
related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision-making processes and freely express themselves.
While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth.
Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance
issues; public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalisation or violence.
Ensuring that safe spaces are inclusive, youth from diverse backgrounds especially those from outside the local community, need to be assured of respect and self-worth.
In humanitarian or conflict-prone settings, for example, youth may lack the space to fully express themselves without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. Similarly, without the existence of safe space, youth from different race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely
contribute to the community.
When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 11,
emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and
We bring together young people, youth leaders, and relevant stakeholders from
around the world to discuss pertinent youth issues.
We also focus on measures to strengthen our member countries in the field of youth and to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities available to young
people for full, effective and constructive participation in society.
Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces for youth to enable them to interact with family and have constructive inter-generational dialogue. Additionally, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) which is the UN framework for youth development prioritizes the provision of "leisure activities" as essential to the psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people.
As more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they
aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters and the
availability and accessibility of safe spaces become even more crucial to
make this a reality.
We acknowledge this year's theme "Safe Spaces for Youth" as we also
promote youth as active leaders and partners in peace processes.
We create opportunities for young people's sustained participation and leadership
and create spaces for them to express their opinions and listen to them and Promote intergenerational exchange. Let us engage both member states and the general public to understand the needs of young people, to implement policies to help them overcome the challenges they face, and to encourage young people into the decision-making process.
The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a prerequisite for sustaining peace.
The writer is the team leader of the Africa Leadership Awards and youth activist.