Youth participation in decision-making processes key to democracy: UN

The participation of youths in Zimbabwe’s decision-making processes is key in the advancement of the country’s democracy, a top United Nations (UN) official has said.

Over 60 percent of the Zimbabwean population is composed of young people.

Speaking at the International Human Rights Day commemorations in the capital Tuesday, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Georges van Montfort, it was important for Zimbabwe to respect rights of the younger generation.

The 71st commemorations of the day ran under the theme: “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.”

The International Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the globe on 10 December, a day on which the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

Van Montfort said the UN recognised that young people were a major human resource for development and key agents for social change and innovation.

“As such, participation in decision-making is a key priority area of the UN agenda on youth and the organisation works in partnership with youth to ensure that they are meaningfully engaged and their human rights are respected, fulfilled and protected,” he said.

“When people’s freedom of expression and assembly are respected and harnessed, democracy and innovation thrive. Yet young people face specific risks including age-based discrimination which intersects with disproportionate social, economic and political barriers which prevent them from achieving their full potential.”

Zimbabwe has a poor human rights record, with citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly, peaceful demonstrations and others continuously violated.

“The United Nations supports human rights as an end and a means for peace and sustainable development,” said the UN representative.

“The United Nations consistent engagement with young people in Zimbabwe emanates from the strong belief that the youth as the majority of the population and dynamic force are key to unlocking the economic and democratic governance challenges of the country. Equally important, the United Nations in Zimbabwe integrates human rights together with reinforcing principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence when delivering humanitarian support to millions of vulnerable communities affected by drought, Cyclone Idai, and economic challenges in rural and urban centres.”

He added: “Given the unprecedented scale of the current humanitarian needs, it is ever more important to proactively promote the humanitarian principles at all levels.”

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