Launch of the Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP) - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
Launch of the Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP)
Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony
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The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) has been supporting young leaders from seven political party youth leagues in developing an Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP). Through a consultative process the participating youth leagues have been able to agree on the terms of engagement presented in a Memorandum of Understanding.
From 18th – 21st May 2011 young political party leaders from major parties participated in a training programme facilitated by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. They discussed crucial features concerning political party youth wings and the general involvement of young people in the democratic development of Uganda. They noted that while the youth may belong to different political parties and ideologies, they in many aspects hold related interests and face similar challenges. On this premise, it was considered necessary to establish a platform where young members of political parties can network, discuss and develop shared approaches in their contribution to strengthening democracy and promoting the sustainable development of Uganda. This inspired the idea of an Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP).
Since attaining independence in 1962, Uganda has had a checkered history with regard to political and economic development. The multiparty democratic system established at the onset of independence
was severely manipulated and could not be sustained. The failure to build a sustainable and resilient democratic system led to cyclic regime failures, military coups and wars that adversely affected the
economic and political development.
Over the last two decades, however, Uganda has realised some significant landmarks in building sustained economic recovery and strengthening democratic governance. On the political side, the
promulgation of the constitution in 1995 and the opening of political space 10 years later to adopt the multi-party system of governance represent some of these landmarks. Economically, the sustained
economic growth rates, achieved with improvements in infrastructure and an overall growth in GDP, are remarkable indicators of progress.
There are yet several challenges that remain. Gaps exist with regard to building accountable independent governance institutions as well as conducting democratic processes that are free and fair.
The multiparty system too remains generally fragile and is dominated by weak political parties faced with unrelenting rivalry among them. Persistent corruption has affected not just governance and service
delivery, it also continues to take a negative toll on the country’s economic situation.
The Situation of the Youth
The Ugandan youth constitute an important and significant part of the national population. Statistics show that over 70% of Ugandans are below the age of 35 and this tendency can be expected to
accelerate in the future according to recent population surveys. Politically, an overwhelming majority of Uganda’s voting population are youth. In spite of such realities youth participation in, and influence on the governance and economic processes remain weak. While there have been modest gains over the years, young people still face several barriers to their full and equal participation in political structures. Beyond electioneering, the Ugandan youth have not been able to effectively engage and influence the national political agenda – be it in government structures or in political parties. This state of affairs contradicts an obvious fact: the prevailing youth bulge as well as the several challenges faced by young people in Uganda (including unemployment, poverty, poor quality education and the continuous risk of political violence etc. demands their active involvement in policy matters at all levels and in all
Similarly, the youth are affected disproportionately by a number of critical challenges, including climate change, the consequences of the world financial and economic crisis, energy deficits, international debt imbalances, sovereign debt and resource scarcity. Young political leaders are key players for tackling these challenges successfully and taking advantage of current opportunities. In this regard, the youth
need improved opportunities for networking, exposure and dialogue about these issues on both the local and international scenes.
The Interparty Youth Platform
With Uganda’s current multiparty system political parties are fundamental blocks of the national policy and development framework. By this, young people’s effective participation in party affairs becomes crucially important not just for the purpose of enhancing meaningful political participation of the youth but also for ensuring that policies and positions adopted by political parties address the demands and aspirations of the young generation. In light of the challenges faced by the youth within and outside the political parties framework, the Interparty Youth Platform is foreseen to be a an essential forum within which young people can bring forward issues of their concern, develop ideas for their solution and initiate a discourse on a broader level. In this way they can advocate for issues currently affecting the youth so that they are being called to the attention of the relevant stakeholders. Summarily, young political party members will be able to build a shared understanding of political subjects, agree on common approaches and positions, share experiences etc. – that could also be transferrable to
individual parties. Participants in this forum will be made familiar with approaches of setting agendas both within the party specifically and in the broader political discourse in general. This includes the
development of political programmes as well as awareness rising and the steering of campaigns to tackle individual topics.
The dialogue will also serve as a platform for joint leadership development initiatives. This will include training and exposure on not just the traditional concepts of leadership but also on the critical challenges affecting young people and the world as mentioned above. It is also foreseen that the Interparty Youth Platform will engage in international (including south-north) exchanges on these