Accra, Ghana, 22 November 2023 – A Youth Forum focused on the role of young people in the upcoming 13th African Games, a continental multi-sport event held every four years, concluded in Accra today. The two-day event was organized by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), within the framework of the United Nations Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Sports Programme”), in collaboration with the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) and the 13th African Games Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
Twenty youth leaders from 19 countries across Africa, as well as officials and representatives from United Nations entities, the AUSC, the 13th African Games LOC, the African Union Youth Division, the Ghana National Peace Council, and the National Youth Authority came together to discuss the power of sports and major sporting events to prevent violent extremism (PVE).
In his opening remarks, Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide, Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority in Ghana, underlined that youth is Africa’s most valuable resource, and as such they must not only be factored in, but able to actively participate in policy decisions. Similarly, Mr. Charles Abani, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana, expressed the African Games represent a unique opportunity to foster greater youth participation, since they have been historically excluded from the policymaking realm, despite their great contribution to peace and sports.
During the two-day forum, the participants exchanged views on how specific aspects of the 13th African Games taking place next year can be leveraged to promote peace and counteract the appeal of violent extremism on the continent. They also discussed the added value of including young people in the organization and delivery of major sporting events and PVE-related activities, and how policymakers can actively seek out and incorporate the diverse experiences and insights of young individuals in their decision-making processes. Addressing the importance of youth-led campaigns to PVE through sport, using the #MoreThanAGame campaign as a reference, the participants explored key takeaways for future campaigns.
The event served as a platform to amplify the voices of young people, acknowledging that the current youth generation is considered the largest in history, and that their diverse perspectives can significantly contribute to promoting peace and addressing the root causes of violent extremism conducive to terrorism. The 20 youth participants at the Forum were selected through a public application process launched in September 2023, which received over 400 submissions. The finalists were chosen based on their experience and involvement in major sporting events, decision-making, and/or sport for PVE initiatives, as well as the potential future impact of their participation in their communities.
The Youth Forum was organized by the United Nations Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Sports Programme”), led by UNOCT and its partners, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS). It was the fifth youth-focused event, following the 2021 Online Youth Consultation on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport; the MENA Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) through Sport (2022) in Rabat, Morocco; the Global Youth Forum on PVE through Sport in Fez, Morocco (2022); and the ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport in Bangkok, Thailand (2022). As a result of these initiatives, the UN Global Sports Programme developed a compilation of Policy Recommendations from a Youth Perspective which are currently being consulted with the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact through its dedicated Working Group on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
For more information:
Ms. Laurence Gerard (firstname.lastname@example.org), Public Information Officer, UNOCT
UNOCT Sports Programme, (email@example.com), UNOCT
Ms. Julie Ladanan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Communications Specialist, UNAOC