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Gambia deposits African Youth Charter

Jan 28, 2010, 2:11 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

The Gambia has joined a list of countries to deposit the African Youth Charter (AYC). The charter was deposited to the AU on July 9th 2009.

As of now, thirty-two countries have signed the charter while seventeen have deposited.

This was communicated to the Youth Forum through a media dispatch from the National Youth Council, which was signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Marchel Mendy.

The charter was adopted in Banjul on July 2nd 2006 during the Seventeen Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

The move is in accordance with Article 30 of the Charter parts of which reads "The instrument of ratification or accession to the present Charter shall be deposited with the Chairperson of the Commission."

The charter is a comprehensive documents which take notes of the situation of the African youths, many of whom are marginalised from mainstream society through techniques in income, wealth and power, unemployment and underemployment, HIV/AIDS, among others.

The charter also took note of the cultural, economic, societal well-being of African youths, their rights and responsibilities, as well as the fundamental freedoms they should enjoy. 

Meanwhile, in their release the youth council expressed gratitude to the Gambian leader, President Jammeh for his commitment to the empowerment of Gambian young people. Similarly, the council also felicitated the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Justice and Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad for their immense contribution, resulting in The Gambia depositing the charter at the African Union Commission.

The charter is the AU's basic and legal instrument for youth empowerment and provides a framework for youth development programming across the member states. Following the deposit of the fifteenth instrument of ratification, the African Youth Charter entered into force on August  2009.

According to Dr. Raymonde Agossou, Head of the Youth Division at the AU Commission, "this is indeed gladdening news and a welcome development for the young people of the continent." She said the entry of the charter comes at no better time than now.

On the other hand, the Heads of State and Governments at their 12th Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa declared the years 2009-2018 as the decade on youth development in Africa and also endorsed at their last summit held in Sirte, Libya, a proposal to declare the year 2010 as the International Year of Youth.

"Thus with the entry of the charter into force, the next ten years will be dedicated to its implementation, which will inevitably improve the status of young people on the continent, and help address the serious deficits among this age cohort," Dr. Agossou explained, adding that with the entry into force of the charter comes the challenge of implementation. This, she said, is the point where the main challenge begins.

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting of the 11 pilot member states participating in the acceleration process towards the ratification and entry into force of the youth charter, the member states proposed clear conditions for the implementation of the charter, one of which was the need for the entry into force of the charter. Therefore, the AU's ten year plan of action on youth must point the member states in the direction of actions that need to be undertaken to use the charter as a means to improve the living conditions of the youths.

Worth recalling that, during the last three years since the charter was adopted, several measures have been adopted, including the development of an initial plan to popularise the youth charter, which was later replaced by a comprehensive plan of action to accelerate the popularisation, ratification and implementation of the charter for the years 2007-2015, which was adopted by the ministers in charge of youth at their meeting in February 2008. The young people across the continent were also involved in various popularisation and advocacy activities regarding the charter through their various organisations. Now in its second year, the  African Youth Initiative and Creativity Award (AYICA) provided a viable platform for the participation of young people in the efforts to popularise the charter and encourage the member states to ratify it. The AU Commission has also taken the lead in the implementation of the charter through the establishment of the Centres for Youth Capacity Building as part of its Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) programme in support of post conflict reconstruction and development in three pilot member states. In addition, the division is working towards the launch of an African Union Youth Volunteer Corps in 2010.

Countries that have ratified the charter include: Rwanda, Mali, Gabon, Mauritius, The Gambia, Niger, Libya, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Togo, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso.