“We children – we are really the future. The future lies in our hands. Do not lose hope in your child — even though the child has done wrong, advise the child, [send] the child to school. Do not deceive your girls for money…Do not sell your child to a man for wealth or anything. Let them value us,” one female participant shared with Yambio FM, emphasizing she was one of many school-aged girls preparing to take their national exams in March 2021.
South Sudanese youth suffer from inadequate protection and access to justice, but youth in South Sudan are not only victims of crime. Youth who are unable to realize their rights, and those facing high unemployment and limited educational, professional, or societal opportunities are more likely to be drawn into criminality and violence. Youth who have experienced trauma are vulnerable to exploitation and perpetuating cycles of violence.
In Western Equatoria State, UNDP’s approach to youth rule of law outreach hinges on dual overarching aims – the first being to mitigate the factors leading to the victimization of youth by expanding awareness and application of protections and services that safeguard, enhance, and prioritize access to justice, security, and human rights protections for youth.
The second is to address the underlying and contributing factors that draw youth into criminality and violence, to ensure that youth in conflict with the law can access justice and exercise their basic human rights, and to provide pathways for (re)integration into lawful society.
Through regular rule of law outreach in communities throughout Western Equatoria and South Sudan, UNDP’s Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Strengthening Programme supports the development of a culture of lawfulness and tolerance that serves to break cycles of vulnerability and violence and enhance community-level understanding and respect for standards of justice, security, and human rights.
Engaging directly with youth specifically is essential for identifying early warning signs, in turn helping to prevent patterns of youth criminality and to circumvent more costly long-term interventions through the criminal justice system.
“There are people who don’t have a role model…you don’t know what you are aiming for. Today, I have really put into consideration that I must follow my role model, according to the workshop that we have gone through,” said another student interviewed by Yambio FM at the Center for the Arts at Abingite College.
Rule of law outreaches, like that organized for the 235 students at Abingite School of Science and Technology in Yambio, provide platforms for UNDP to directly support and empower the South Sudanese youth, who will benefit from and grow to assume responsibility for building and safeguarding rule of law, justice, human rights, peace and security in their neighborhoods and communities.
Learn more about UNDP's work improving access to justice and promoting rule of law in South Sudan.