Brussels, 24 June 2022/OACPS: The African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) held its first in-person JPA Youth Forum since the last which was organised in Kigali in 2019. The Forum, themed, “Promoting youth participation in peace and security in the ACP countries and beyond” was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Jadwiga WIŚNIEWSKA of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, Poland and the Hon. Clifford ANDRE of Seychelles co-chaired the meeting.

Twenty-three Youth Sounding Boards* (YSB) attended the Forum. The members of the Youth Sounding Board are now tasked with the preparation of the conclusions/recommendations arising from the meeting, which will be followed up, as much as possible, by the Assembly.

In introducing the debate, the Co-Chairs underlined that young people already take on active roles in conflict prevention, build peace during conflict, deliver humanitarian support, and participate in post-conflict peace, truth and reconciliation processes. Unfortunately, they also face challenges that hinder the realisation of their full potential as agents of peace and security, such as insufficient capacity-building opportunities, local resistance to youth leadership, socio-economic and financial barriers and exclusionary political structures.

The Youth Forum looked at potential avenues to overcome the barriers and challenges, including the role parliamentarians could play to further support and promote youth participation in peace and security in Members of the OACPS and beyond.

In five separate rounds of questions and comments, the YSB participants and JPA members exchanged views and experiences on the following sub-topics:

  • Meaningful participation of youth in political processes
  • Young people as mediators and peacebuilders at grassroots and local levels
  • Empowerment of youth through education and economic inclusion
  • Building capacities of young people, youth organisations and networks focused on peace and security
  • Peace, security and innovation: the use of social media and ICT by young people for peace.

At the end of the meeting, Alessandro Bellantoni, Head of the Open Government and Civic Space Unit at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), launched the OECD project on “Developing a permanent stakeholder engagement mechanism in the new EU-OACPS partnership agreement”, which was followed by lively debate. The project seeks to implement the commitments on engaging stakeholders, particularly Art. 95 related to the setting up of “open and transparent mechanisms for structured consultation with stakeholders”, under the new EU-OACPS Partnership Agreement.

The next Youth Forum will be organised in the margins of the ACP-EU JPA Plenary Session in Maputo, Mozambique in October 2022, at which it is proposed to adopt new rules for the OACPS-EU JPA and for the three Regional Parliamentary Assemblies to incorporate the Youth Forums as an official component of future JPA meetings.

Click HERE to see a recording of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Forum.