The African continent looked inward and adopted regional framework for youth issues in 1995 during the head of government meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, leading to the African Youth Charter. The Charter provides framework for advancing the cause of development alongside youth participation and involvement, and became mandatory for all member States of the AU to adopt its definition and practical action plan for youth development.
In same vein, most African countries were signatory to the Lisbon declaration on youth policies which encourages national action on youth matters in the global context. However, the level of commitments on youth charter and youth policies across Africa remains critical and not encouraging. Africa has not fully integrated youth development into national development scheme – youths are seen more as problems rather than solutions. It is sad to note that Africa remains at the bottom of table of continents that are not prioritising youth issues and found wanting at implementing global agreement on young people.
Efforts need to be intensified to ensure a rapid change in youth matters across Africa. AfriNYPE is taking the challenge to awaken Africa’s member States of their duties and responsibilities to youth. This can only be achieved by persistent efforts. Youth policy matter is particularly central to successes in all other areas within which 15 priority areas have been identified in the global call.
The ‘World Programme of Action for Youth’ to the Year 2000 and beyond which was adopted in 1995 with its final ratification in 2007 provided a landmark recognition of definite action plan on youth. The Action Plan provided framework and practical guidelines for national and expected international support for improving the conditions of young people around the world, while it doubles as the first global blueprint suggesting roadmap for achieving an effective National Youth Policy in respective countries.
Realising that almost 20 years after, youth issues still remain critical, youth vision are not met, young people are not fully engaged and included, more problems have surfaced in the contemporary time and less attention given to youth matters, in 2012, the United Nations Secretary-General pronounced ‘advancing youth issues’ priority of his Five-Year Action Agenda. In his renewed commitment to youth matters, the Secretary General directed Inter-agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD), to develop a System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP). Endorsed in 2013, the Youth-SWAP provides strategic guidance to the UN system as a whole in its work with and for young people, based on the mandate of the WPAY, and incorporates an important focus on policy development and implementation with and for youth.
In view of this development, the action of the Secretary General has started showing positive light with the conveyance of First Global Forum on Youth Policies with supports form UN office of Secretary General’s Envoy on youth, UNDP, UNESCO, European Union and Government of Azerbaijan in 2014. The Baku Commitments becomes the most recent efforts at advancing the cause of youth development through youth policy.