Launch of Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign

Your Excellencies, all Protocols are duly observed.

I would like to first of all, thank the Commissioner of Peace and Security, H.E. Ambassador Smail Chergui, ​for his leadership and commitment to youth engagement by launching the Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign and for his openness to the idea of a targeted campaign for youth within the ​2020 ​Theme of the Year “Silencing the Guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa's development” within the circumstances of COVID-19 outbreak.

We do hope this would set a precedent for subsequent themes of the African Union to see the value of having a campaign particularly engaging Africa's youth so they can own our AU themes and champion them at the national and community levels because that's what young people continue to ask from us, to bring the African Union decisions to the grassroots so we can see results and impact.

We would have hoped that we could run the campaign on the ground as initially planned with solidarity visits to member states and direct engagement and townhalls with youth. However, we had to adjust but we still have the opportunity to innovate and to go digital with the campaign while also supporting youth engagement at the national level, in implementing the ​African Union ​Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to ​Silence the Guns in Africa.

I would like to also sincerely thank ​Dr. Kambudzi, the Director, of the Peace and Security Department, ​the Bureau of the chairperson namely, Mme. ​Ouriatou Danfakha and the Youth4Peace team, AGA secretariat and Youth Division with whom we’ve been working on this campaign and we will continue to work together to achieve the expected ambitious outcomes for this campaign.

I think by launching this campaign, our leaders who have made powerful statements today, the commissioners of Peace and Security, the commissioner of Human Resources,ScienceandTechnology,theCommissionerofPoliticalAffairs,theCh​airof Permanent Representative Committee, the Chair of the Peace and Security Council and the United Nations through the presence of Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UN Office to the AU - all shows a recognition for the urgent need to center youth in the AU theme of the year and on the peace, security and development agenda in general.

We have the youngest population in the world here in Africa. Youth are the ones affected by conflict especially young women, the ones vulnerable to recruitment and marginalization and they are the ones building peace with agency. We know that the more we engage young people, the more sustainable our peace will be, the more generational healing will be achieved, and most probably the more effective we can resolve conflicts.

It’s also important to realize that young people are extremely interconnected today. What takes place in one country has an effect on a young person in another country. Young peacebuilders in Africa care about each other. We see more and more solidarity access broders among youth. Young people also look at their challenges as intersectional and interlinked. This presents an opportunity to engage a large youth constituency to silencing the guns agenda from climate activists to gender advocates, anti-corruption initiatives and even potential young entrepreneurs. Because silencing the guns is about free-conflict Africa and it’s also about ​Silencing corruption, Silencing climate crisis, Silencing unemployment, Silencing Gender Based Violence and Silencing hunger and poverty.​

Young people care about all these issues and everyone can and should relate to silencing the guns agenda. We all know it’s not merely about the absence of war, but also about prevention, empowerment, transformation and how we address the root and soul causes of human suffering.

We believe at the African Union that dialogue is the tool to reach common solutions.

In this regard, as the Chairperon’s Special Envoy on Youth, my office advocates for intergenerational dialogues because I truly believe that could also be a tool for conflict prevention of current and emerging crises and conflicts by stimulating solidarity, trust, mentorship and learning across generations.

One of the objectives of the Youth STG campaign is to foster ​Intergenerational Co-Leadership.​ That's why as part of this campaign we developed and we will publish a Toolkit on Intergenerational Dialogues so young people can also organize dialogues in communities, schools, and organizations.

We also have a line up of exciting activities that we want to announce today;

  • -  We will convene regional intergenerational dialogues

  • -  We will mobilize grants and seed funding for youth-led peace organizations

    through Youth Silencing the Guns Awards

  • -  We will run trainings because young people asked us for skills in mediation,

    negotiations and community engagement

Some of the ongoing activities now as part of the campaign is the Youth Innovation Challenge run by AGA secretariat in a joint project with COMESA, deadline is extended to 11 August, so make sure you apply and share with young innovators and follow our social media to know more.

My call for my fellow young peacebuilders.

There is no better time than now to mobilize for peace. This comes timely following the adoption on 23rd June 2020 of a milestone by the Peace and Security Council ​of the African Union​ ​-​ the continental framework on Youth, Peace and Security​.

I call on all young Africans to join us. Join us to rally our peers and mobilize, to change the narrative - from youth as a problem and perpetrators of violence to youth as a solution and peacebuilders.

Tell us, how are you silencing the guns. Let us make young African peacebuilders the news and the headlines, not the violent extremists.

Join us to recruit more youth into peace building and show our peers the value of peace building. That you don’t need martyrdom to be recognized, to be a hero - You can be a hero and recognized as an agent of peace.

The African Youth Ambassadors of Peace, are an example of that recognition.

It should be our generation's mission to ​Silence The Guns, because African youth deserve peace and we have many superpowers; We have the demographic power, the innovation power, the voting power, the mobilization power, the digital power, the youth-led accountability power and the power to delegitmize violence and legitimize peace. We have all of that power to make peace possible.

So let us unite and rise above national, racial, ethnic, tribal, religious, and other differences, and be first human and African, let us unite for one Pan-African vision, an integrated peaceful and borderless Africa.

We don't need permission to serve our continent, in fact we have the duty and responsibility to serve.

Let us build this momentum. This campaign is a contribution to the youth peacebuilding movement and you have, my fellow young peacebuilders, the African Union Commission full support to amplify your voices.

Let us all be -- the Youth Silencing The Guns.