On 2 July 2006, the African Union (AU) the Member States adopted the African Youth Charter in its Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia. The Charter came into force on 3 August 2009. South Sudan signed it on 24 January 2013. The Charter calls for State Parties to take all appropriate steps to eliminate harmful social and cultural practises that affect the welfare and dignity of the youth. It also urges State Parties to introduce legislative measures that eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and young women and ensure that their human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected.
The youth are recognised as the greatest resource in any nation and through their active and full participation, South Sudan can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead. The youth are partners, assets and play an important role in peace building, development and prosperity of a nation. There is need to take appropriate measures to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children and young people as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (TCSS), 2011 (as amended).
The United Nations defines youth as persons between 15 to 24 years. The African Youth Charter and the East African Community Youth Policy define youth as any person between 15 and 35 years.
This public consultation will provide a great opportunity for the Ministry of Youth and the TNLA to engage directly with the young people in South Sudan and other stakeholders to discuss the African Youth Charter and what it provides and how it would benefit the youth of South Sudan. It will offer an important platform for the parliament to get views and inputs from the public on how this Charter would strengthen the legal framework for South Sudan to deal with all forms of discrimination and continue with the progress to remove obstacles that still prevent girls, women and the youth from fully participating in society. The consultations will provide participants with a more in-depth understanding of the Charter, process of ratification, including potential benefits that South Sudan stands to have by ratifying it.
South Sudan has already signed the African Youth Charter and what now remains is ratification by parliament. The then Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports also finalised drafting the National Youth Development Policy and presented it to parliament for deliberations and passage. This will further strengthen the coordinated framework for the development of youth who are pivotal for peace-building and sustainable development. Ratification of this Charter would also be timely, following the commitment of H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit to support the expeditious ratification of the charter on the occasion of the visit of the African Union Special Envoy on Youth in July 2019, and after the recent visit to South Sudan by the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth(January 2020) and the visit by the AU Envoy on Youth ( November 2020) who urged the parliament to consider ratification of this regional instrument as one way of demonstrating the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the youth are actively involved in the peace process and the development of the country. Moreover, the Government of South Sudan has already as part of its commitments to the International Conference on Population and Development (November 2019) reaffirmed to have the youth charter ratified by end of 2020.