Framework for Youth Participation in Public Affairs


“Development assistance should work for the benefit of youth (as target beneficiaries), with youth as partners, and be shaped by youth as leaders

DFID (2007)

The United Nations has long recognized that the imagination, ideals and energies of young people are vital for the continuing development of the societies in which they live.[1] Little wonder, the World Programme of Action for Youth to the year 2000 and beyond identifies “participation in decision-making processes” as one of the ways through which youth can fully participate in the life of society. Additionally, the Commonwealth Youth Programme[2] advocates for the effective participation of young women and men in the development process and for social transformation.

At the regional level, the African Youth Charter provides that “every young[3] person shall have the right to participate in all spheres of society.”

Nationally, Uganda’s Constitution has several provisions which establish and guarantee youth participation.[4] Articles 29; 38; 59(1); and 78(1)(c), give further room for youth participation, including representation in parliament.

youth part


The Local Government Act (1997), specifically sections 2(b) (c); 11(c); and 24(1)(c) establish youth participation in local governments and administrative units. Similarly, the National Youth Council Act provides for the establishment of a National Youth Council (from village to national level), its composition, objectives and functions. According to UYONET, the framers of this law envisaged that the National Youth Council structures will be the main vehicle for organized youth participation in governance and development. The National Youth Policy (2001) seeks to promote youth participation in democratic processes as well as in community and civic affairs and ensuring that youth programmes are youth centered.



[1] World Programme of Action for Youth

[2] The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (2007-2015)

[3] Young person includes both children and youth. This is based on varying age group definitions of youth

[4] See paragraphs II (i)(ii)(iii) of the “democratic principles” under the national objective and directive principles of state policy


The Law on the Right to Participation


The right to participation is enshrined in various international instruments such as conventions, treaties and declarations which Uganda is party to.

Under Article 21(1) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (1976) in Article 25 (a) recognizes every citizen’s right and the opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

These provisions are re-echoed by Article 13 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which provides that every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law.


An illustration (SOURCE: Internet)

At the national level, Objective II (i) of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution dictates that the State shall be based on democratic principles which empower and encourage the active participation of all citizens at all levels in their own governance. Similarly, Article 38 (1) guarantees the right of every Uganda citizens to participate in the affairs of government, individually or through his or her representatives in accordance with law.