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Guinean Advocate Stands Up for Rights
February 20, 2015

Oscar Ouendeno with a local family of seven.
Oscar Ouendeno, lower right, spreads awareness of human rights with neighbors in Labé, Guinea.

Democracy advocate Oscar Ouendeno stresses that “all Africans must know what everyone is legally able to do so that they can limit others’ abuses.”

Since 2009, the 28-year-old YALI Network member from Labé, Guinea, has been telling his neighbors about the “respect for human rights and democratic principles” spelled out in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

In 2007, members of the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted the charter that envisions “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” The charter, which the United States supports, sets out international standards of good governance and democracy in such areas as rule of law, free and fair elections, and condemnation of unconstitutional changes of government. The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm, lists the countries that have ratified the charter as of June 2014.

A believer in the power of groups, Ouendeno says he and his volunteers have reached more than 2,000 people in his home city with this pro-rights message. Additional colleagues have reached even more people in other cities in Guinea. Members of the group pay for most of their own outreach expenses with help from friends and family contributions. Ouendeno, a graduate of Guinea’s University Center of Labé (Centre Universitaire de Labé), says the limited funding has been a major barrier to their efforts.

Alt: Oscar Ouendeno (Courtesy of Oscar Ouendeno)
Ouendeno teaches university students about the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The determined human rights advocate started a small nonprofit group to raise young people’s awareness of democracy and the importance of an involved civil society. He also introduces young people to concepts and principles of entrepreneurship.

“I’m motivated by knowing that there are thousands of other young Africans whose dream it is to change Africa,” he says. “YALI helps connect them so that their efforts are linked for success.”

“YALI members have to always be reminded that only united [can we] stand,” he said adding, “that change comes always after a struggle.”

Ouendeno is a member of the Global Partnership on Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda (#GPY2015), an online crowdsourcing forum convened by the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth to help develop input for negotiations on the U.N.’s post-2015 agenda.

The year 2015 was the target year set in 2000 for achieving a host of development goals ranging from cutting poverty and hunger to increasing girls’ education and boosting maternal health in the world’s less-privileged countries. #GPY2015 aims to consolidate the outcomes of national, regional, global and online discussions into proposals for the post-2015 development framework.

“Youth must stand and face their responsibility to manage their destiny and the destiny of Africa,” Ouendeno says.