AFRICAN YOUTH CHARTER
GUIDED by the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the States Parties to the present “African Youth Charter”,
GUIDED by the vision, hopes and aspirations of the African Union, inclusive of Africa’s integration, the inherent dignity and inalienable rights afforded to all members of the human family as set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (1976) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976), and articulated for the African peoples through the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1986);
RECALLING the resolution of the Heads of State and government during the 1999 Algiers Summit for the development of the Pan-African Charter;
FULLY ATTACHED to the virtues and values of African historical tradition and civilization which form the foundation for our concept of people’s rights;
RECALLING the historic injustices imposed on Africa such as slavery, colonization, depletion of natural resources and taking into account the firm will of African peoples for self-determination and the economic integration of Africa;
CONVINCED that Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population and that through their active and full participation, Africans can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead;
BEARING IN MIND the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) and the progress achieved in eliminating gender discrimination, but ever cognisant of the obstacles that still prevent girls and women from fully participating in African society;
REAFFIRMING the need to take appropriate measures to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children as outlined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989) and through the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999),
ACKNOWLEDGING the commitments already made towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inviting the partners to reaffirm their support to advance the well-being of youth;
RECOGNISING the efforts made by States Parties and civil societies to address the economic, social, educational, cultural and spiritual needs of youth;
NOTING with concern the situation of African youth, many of whom are marginalized from mainstream society through inequalities in income, wealth and power, unemployment and underemployment, infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, living in situations of poverty and hunger, experiencing illiteracy and poor quality educational systems, restricted access to health services and to information, exposure to violence including gender violence, engaging in armed conflicts and experiencing various forms of discrimination;
RECALLING the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond and the ten priority areas identified for youth (education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls and young women and youth participating in decision-making), and the five additional areas (HIV/AIDS, ICT, Intergenerational dialogue,..) adopted at the 2005 UN General assembly;
RECOGNISING that youth are partners, assets and a prerequisite for sustainable development and for the peace and prosperity of Africa with a unique contribution to make to the present and to future development;
CONSIDERING the role that youth have played in the process of decolonisation, the struggle against apartheid and more recently in its efforts to encourage the development and to promote the democratic processes on the African Continent;
REAFFIRMING that the continuous cultural development of Africa rests with its youth and therefore requires their active and enlightened participation as espoused in the Cultural Charter for Africa;
GUIDED by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Strategic Framework for Youth Programme of 2004 that is working towards youth empowerment and development;
ACKNOWLEDGING the increasing calls and the enthusiasm of youth to actively participate at local, national, regional and international levels to determine their own development and the advancement of society at large;
ACKNOWLEDGING ALSO the call in Bamako (2005) by the youth organisations across Africa to empower youth by building their capacity, leadership, responsibilities and provide access to information such that they can take up their rightful place as active agents in decision-making and governance;
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION the inter-relatedness of the challenges facing youth and the need for cross-sectoral policies and programmes that attend to the needs of youth in a holistic manner;
CONSIDERING that the promotion and protection of the rights of youth also implies the performance of duties by youth as by all other actors in society;
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION the needs and aspirations of young displaced persons, refugees and youth with special needs;
HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
“Chairperson” shall mean the Chairperson of the African Union Commission;
“Charter” shall mean the African Youth Charter;
“Commission” shall mean the Commission of African Union
“Diaspora” shall mean peoples of African descent and heritage living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and who remain committed to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union (DOC.EX.CL/164(VII))
“Member States” shall mean Member States of the African Union
“Minors” shall mean young people aged 15 to 17 years subject to each country’s laws
“States Parties” shall mean Member States, which have ratified or acceded to the present Charter;
“Union” shall mean the African Union
“Youth” For the purposes of this Charter, youth or young people shall refer to every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years.
PART 1: RIGHTS AND DUTIES
Article 1: Obligation of State Parties
1. States Parties of the African Union to the present Charter shall recognize the rights, freedoms and duties enshrined in this Charter.
2. State Parties shall undertake the necessary steps, in accordance with their Constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Charter, to adopt such legislative or other measures that may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of the Charter.
Article 2: Non-discrimination
1. Every young person shall be entitled to the enjoyments of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in this Charter irrespective of their race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.
2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that youth are protected against all forms of discrimination on the basis of status, activities, expressed opinions or beliefs.
3. State Parties shall recognize the righ e and global consciousness. In this regard, they shall:
a) Promote widespread access to information and communication technology as a means for education, employment creation, interacting effectively with the world and building understanding, tolerance and appreciation of other youth cultures;
b) Encourage the local production of and access to information and communication technology content;
c) Engage young people and youth organisations to understand the nexus between contemporary youth culture and traditional African culture, and enable them to express this fusion through drama, art, writing, music and other cultural and artistic forms;
d) Help young people to use positive elements of globalisation such as science and technology and information and communication technology to promote new cultural forms that link the past to the future;
Article 21: Youth in the Diaspora
States Parties shall recognise the right of young people to live anywhere in the world. In this regard, they shall:
a) Promote the equivalence of degrees between African educational institutions to enable the youth to study and work in State Parties;
b) Promote the recruitment of African youth with specialized skills, in the spirit of African solutions for African problems, according to national policies and priorities;
c) Facilitate youth organisations to liaise and collaborate with the African youth Diaspora;
d) Establish structures that encourage and assist the youth in the diaspora to return to and fully re-integrate into the social and economic life in Africa;
e) Promote and protect the rights of young people living in the diaspora;
f) Encourage young people in the diaspora to engage themselves in development activities in their country of origin.
Article 22: Leisure, Recreation, Sportive and Cultural Activities
1. Young people shall have the right to rest and leisure and to engage in play and recreational activities that are part of a health lifestyle as well as to participate freely in sport, physical education drama, the arts, music and other forms of cultural life. In this regard, States Parties shall:
a) Make provision for equal access for young men and young women to sport, physical education, cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities;
b) Put in place adequate infrastructure and services in rural and urban areas for youth to participate in sport, physical education, cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities.
Article 23: Girls and Young Women
1. States Parties acknowledge the need to eliminate discrimination against girls and young women according to obligations stipulated in various international, regional and national human rights conventions and instruments designed to protect and promote women’s rights. In this regard, they shall:
a) Introduce legislative measures that eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and young women and ensure their human rights and fundamental freedoms;
b) Ensure that girls and young women are able to participate actively, equally and effectively with boys at all levels of social, educational, economic, political, cultural, civic life and leadership as well as scientific endeavours;
c) Institute programmes to make girls and young women aware of their rights and of opportunities to participate as equal members of society;
d) Guarantee universal and equal access to and completion of a minimum of nine years of formal education;
e) Guarantee equal access to and completion of vocational, secondary and higher education in order to effectively address the existing imbalance between young men and women in certain professions;
f) Ensure that education material and teaching practices are gender sensitive and encourage girls and young women to undertake studies in the sciences;
g) Provide educational systems that do not impede girls and young women, including married and/or pregnant young women, from attending;
h) Take steps to provide equal access to health care services and nutrition for girls and young women;
i) Protect girls and young women from economic exploitation and from performing work that is hazardous, takes them away from education or that is harmful to their mental or physical health;
j) Offer equal access to young women to employment and promote their participation in all sectors of employment;
k) Introduce special legislation and programmes of action that make available opportunities to girls and young women including access to education as a prerequisite and a priority for rapid social and economic development;
l) Enact and enforce legislation that protect girls and young women from all forms of violence, genital mutilation, incest, rape, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking, prostitution and pornography;
m) Develop programmes of action that provide legal, physical and psychological support to girls and young women who have been subjected to violence and abuse such that they can fully re-integrate into social and economic life;
n) Secure the right for young women to maternity leave.
Article 24: Mentally and Physically Challenged Youth
1. States Parties recognise the right of mentally and physically challenged youth to special care and shall ensure that they have equal and effective access to education, training, health care services, employment, sport, physical education and cultural and recreational activities.
2. State Parties shall work towards eliminating any obstacles that may have negative implications for the full integration of mentally and physically challenged youth into society including the provision of appropriate infrastructure and services to facilitate easy mobility.
Article 25: Elimination of Harmful Social and Cultural Practices
State Parties shall take all appropriate steps to eliminate harmful social and cultural practices that affect the welfare and dignity of youth, in particular;
a) Customs and practices that harm the health, life or dignity of the youth;
b) Customs and practices discriminatory to youth on the basis of gender, age or other status.
Article 26: Responsibilities of Youth
Every young person shall have responsibilities towards his family and society, the
State, and the international community. Youth shall have the duty to:
a) Become the custodians of their own development;
b) Protect and work for family life and cohesion;
c) Have full respect for parents and elders and assist them anytime in cases of need in the context of positive African values;
d) Partake fully in citizenship duties including voting, decision making and governance;
e) Engage in peer-to-peer education to promote youth development in areas such as literacy, use of information and communication technology, HIV/AIDS prevention, violence prevention and peace building;
f) Contribute to the promotion of the economic development of States Parties and Africa by placing their physical and intellectual abilities at its service;
g) Espouse an honest work ethic and reject and expose corruption;
h) Work towards a society free from substance abuse, violence, coercion, crime, degradation, exploitation and intimidation;
i) Promote tolerance, understanding, dialogue, consultation and respect for others regardless of age, race, ethnicity, colour, gender, ability, religion, status or political affiliation;
j) Defend democracy, the rule of law and all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
k) Encourage a culture of voluntarism and human rights protection as well as participation in civil society activities;
l) Promote patriotism towards and unity and cohesion of Africa;
m) Promote, preserve and respect African traditions and cultural heritage and pass on this legacy to future generations;
n) Become the vanguard of re-presenting cultural heritage in languages and in forms to which youth are able to relate;
o) Protect the environment and conserve nature.
Article 27: Popularization of the Charter
States Parties shall have the duty to promote and ensure through teaching, education and publication, the respect of rights, responsibilities and freedoms contained in the present Charter and to see to it that these freedoms, rights and responsibilities as well as corresponding obligations and duties are understood.
Article 28: Duties of the African Union Commission
The African Union Commission shall ensure that States Parties respect the commitments made and fulfil the duties outlined in the present Charter by;
a) Collaborating with governmental, non-governmental institutions and developmental partners to identify best practices on youth policy formulation and implementation and encouraging the adaptation of principles and experiences among States Parties;
b) Inviting States Parties to include youth representatives as part of their delegations to the ordinary sessions of the African Union and other relevant meetings of the policy organs to broaden the channels of communication and enhance the discussion of youth-related
c) Instituting measures to create awareness of its activities and make information on its activities more readily available and accessible to youth;
d) Facilitating exchange and co-operation between youth organisations across national borders in order to develop regional youth solidarity, political consciousness and democratic participation in collaboration with development partners.
PART 2: Final Provisions
Article 29: Savings clause
Nothing in this Charter shall be taken as minimising higher standards and values contained in other relevant human rights instruments ratified by States concerned or rational law or policies.
Article 30: Signature, Ratification or Adherence
1. The present Charter shall be open to signature by all the Member States. The present Charter shall be subject to ratification or accession by Member States. The instrument of ratification or accession to the present Charter shall be deposited with the Chairperson of the Commission.
2. The present Charter shall come into force thirty (30) days after the deposit with the Chairperson of the Commission of the instruments of ratification of fifteen (15) Member States.
Article 31: Amendment and Revision of the Charter
1. The present Charter may be amended or revised if any Member State makes a written request to that effect to the Chairperson of the Commission, provided that the proposed amendment is not submitted to the Assembly of the Union for consideration until all Member States have been duly notified of it.
2. An amendment shall be approved by a simple majority of the Member States. Such amendment shall come into force for each Member States that has ratified or acceded to it on the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification.
ADOPTED BY THE SEVENTH ORDINARY SESSION
OF THE ASSEMBLY, HELD IN BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
ON 2ND JULY 2006