Friday, 7 February 2014

Commonwealth Youth Council Launches Campaign to end election violence

The Commonwealth Youth Council launched an international campaign to reduce incidents of violence perpetrated by young people at elections.

The Youth Campaign Against Election Violence began with an inaugural conference in Abuja, Nigeria between 30 and 31 January. The campaign involves encouraging youth volunteers across the country to develop awareness-raising activities, including street rallies, social and cultural events, workshops and media appearances, to persuade young people to shun violence at election time.

The launch came as preparations gear up for the next Nigerian general elections in 2015. During the last general elections in 2011, more than 800 people died as a result of violence sparked by political, ethnic and religious divisions.

Ahmed Adamu, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC), hosting the event, said: “Too many young lives have been lost before, during and after general elections in Nigeria – yet this is not a problem unique to this country. This CYC youth-led campaign aims to sensitise young people on the need to be tolerant and embrace peace during elections.”

Youth representatives attending the Abuja conference will serve as election peace marshals and organise local campaigns and workshops in their home states. Following the pilot in Nigeria, the initiative is expected to be rolled out by the Commonwealth Youth Council to other Commonwealth member countries.

The conference drew attendance by youth leaders from Nigeria’s 36 states, with speakers representing Nigeria’s Minister of Youth Development and the Independent National Electoral Commission, as well as civil society and youth development organisations and political parties.

There was also representation from the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which was instrumental in setting up the Commonwealth Youth Council, and which continues to provide support it.

James Odit, Africa Regional Director for the Commonwealth Youth Programme, said: “At election time, everyone deserves to have their voice heard and to exercise their democratic right to vote. But without peace, this is virtually impossible. Engaging young people as agents for peace is a very powerful approach to addressing the scourge of election violence.”

The Youth Campaign Against Election Violence is the first project to be organised by the Commonwealth Youth Council, an autonomous body representing the 1.2 billion young people from across the 53-nation Commonwealth community. The Council’s inaugural executive committee was elected in November 2013.

The Commonwealth Youth Council is a vehicle for young people to share their views and take action on global development issues. It advocates for governments around the Commonwealth to engage meaningfully with this generation.

More information can be found about the Commonwealth Youth Council on its website:

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