In July 2006, African Union Head of States and Governments meeting in Banjul, Gambia, endorsed the African Youth Charter (AYC). The Charter is a political and legal document which serves as the strategic framework that gives direction for youth empowerment and development at continental, regional and national levels. The AYC aims to strengthen, reinforce and consolidate efforts to empower young people through meaningful youth participation and equal partnership in driving Africa’s development agenda. The document refers to the rights, freedoms and duties of Young people in Africa.
As at 15 March 2016
- 42 Member States have signed the Charter.
- 38 Member States have ratified the Charter.
- 3 Member States are yet to sign and ratify.
Domestication and Implementation
Work needs to be done to domesticate and implement the African Youth Charter. Law makers should align national laws and policies with the provisions of the African Youth Charter. Youth Rights and Responsibilities should specifically be made enforceable in respective constitutions and other laws of member state.
The specific duties imposed on Member States in the African Youth Charter vis a vis observing the rights of young people may involve huge financial implication. However, to avert non implementation after transformation, Member States should amend their constitutions and other related laws to impose an obligation on governing bodies to embark on time-bound progressive implementation of their duties by providing specific percentages in their national budgets to carry out such duties.
All member states are thus encouraged to take appropriate steps in ratifying and transforming the Charter. This would further strengthen the youth to play their inevitable roles in sustainable national development.
Judiciary bodies, the African Human Right Commission, and higher international instances have their roles to play in protecting the provisions of the African Youth Charter by managing judicially and judiciously the issues of enforcement. For instance, it would have to accord every African Youth the locus standi to enforce the provision of the charter transformed by Member States where their national courts are reluctant about enforcement. Further, such judicial instances should adopt a liberal approach of interpretation by subsuming the rights in African Youth Charter into the civil and political rights in the various national constitutions.
Member States are expected to have Youth Ministries which shall be strengthened to execute the legal and policy frameworks aimed at empowering the youth. A very few Member States (e.g. South Africa) have taken an examlatory lead in establishing of a National Youth Commission to contribute positively to the political, sociological and economic employment of the disadvantaged members of the society.