African Border Day focuses on youth
7 June marked African Border Day. This celebration promotes the African Union Border Program (AUBP), created in January 2007 by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. It aims to prevent structural conflicts by promoting regional and continental integration. In his statement, Smaïl Chergui, AU Peace and Security Commissioner, reiterated that the AUBP contributes to implementing the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which aims for “a continent of seamless borders and management of cross-border resources through dialogue.” He also noted the important role that increased border co-operation could play in coping with and managing the harmful effects of climate change, forced displacement, food crises and humanitarian disasters. In line with this year’s theme dedicated to “the role of the youth in conflict prevention and cross-border co-operation,” the commissioner urged member states to invest in stable border areas that could be used to develop income-generating and skill-building opportunities for youth, thus leading to people-centred development. He called upon member states to ratify the Niamey Convention on Cross-border Co-operation, which offers a legal framework for member states to develop and implement cross-border co-operation initiatives. Based on joint activities between neighbouring countries, the convention also aims to ensure peaceful resolutions of border disputes. It is an important instrument that contributes to transforming border areas into catalysts for growth and to increasing socio-economic and political integration across Africa. West Africa is the most advanced region in terms of regional integration. To date, eight West African countries have signed the Niamey Convention and Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali have also already ratified the text.