The Youth Affairs Division (YAD), known internationally as the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), operates through a strategic planning, coordinating and pan-Commonwealth international office at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London and four regional centres located in Africa (Zambia), Asia (India), the Caribbean (Guyana) and the South Pacific (Solomon Islands).
It assists member governments in the development of programmes for the empowerment of young women and men aged 15–29. The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment is the strategic policy framework for advancing youth development in the Commonwealth. It provides guidance on creating the enabling environment for young people to participate as equal partners in development and democracy.
CYP is governed by the Board of Governors and Executive Committee which provide general directions on governance and operations of the programme within guidelines based on mandates received from CHOGMs and Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ Meetings (CYMMs). The Executive Committee is composed of representatives from high commissioners, members of the Youth Caucus who are also members of the Regional Advisory Boards, the Commonwealth Secretary-General or his nominated representative. The last CYMM was held from 27–30 April 2008 in Sri Lanka.
The CYP is financed by a voluntary fund. Regional Advisory Boards provide advice on the operations of the programme within the four regions of the Commonwealth, while the CYMMs are responsible for the provision of the vision and strategic direction and resources of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
All CYP programmes aim to reduce poverty among young people through their active participation in achieving the MDGs and other mandates. CYP has an expanding network of partners with whom it collaborates in areas of common interest for the development of the young people of the Commonwealth. The CYP office in London focuses on advocacy, brokerage and catalytic work at the pan-Commonwealth level and provides strategic direction to all its programmes implemented in member countries.
All CYP programmes are underpinned by a rights-based approach to development which emphasises accountability, participation, transparency and empowering young people as development partners and not as passive recipients of their own development. The CYP is also working with its development partners in developing a Youth Development Index as a tool for measuring the progress that youth are making towards the attainment of Youth Empowerment. Work in this regard is under way to develop indicators that member countries and other agencies can measure themselves or against others in the youth development continuum.