Nairobi, Kenya: Corruption is a global problem that stems from an abuse of power for private gain. A threat to the foundation of democratic institutions, corruption erodes economic development and undermines social stability, especially in countries that are undergoing rapid changes as it also exacerbates existing inequality and social inclusion, especially among the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Good governance, accountability, and rule of law are therefore essential to combat and prevent corruption.
In Kenya, young parliamentarians are stepping up to address corruption and related activities in their country. Senator Mercy Chebeni, the youngest female Member of Parliament in the Republic of Kenya, was nominated to represent and serve the interest of the Kenyan youth and marginalized communities. She is currently one of the founding members and Vice President of the African Young Parliamentarian Network (AYPN), member of the Kenyan Women Senators Association and a member of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians’ Association.
Launched in June 2021, AYPN is an initiative with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that assists young parliamentarians in Africa in upholding good governance practices, inclusion and diversity to build robust governance structures. It brings together young parliamentarians from across the continent to advocate for the voice of the youth in key continental decision-making processes. AYPN further offers support to individual countries through young parliamentarians' caucuses to ensure that the young legislators are effectively engaging with Parliament, the Executive, the Civil Society, and other stakeholders to facilitate youth empowerment in those countries setting the agenda of the countries towards more youth-friendly policies.
UNODC’s efforts with AYPN focus on capacity building for young parliamentarians and women leaders through training on good governance and integrity to countering corruption, and to increase their capacity in political participation with the view of giving them a platform to effectively ensure adherence to the rule of law, good governance and accountability.
“It has been an incredibly impactful year working with UNODC’s Regional Office in Eastern Africa,” says Sen. Chebeni. She further reflects that “…the engagements, events and conferences have opened up global conversations and certainly we have realized that some of the challenges we face as a Country and Africa at large are not only unique to us, hence they require a multi-faceted approach through such platforms as offered by UNODC.”
As a guardian of the UN norms and standards in crime prevention and criminal justice, UNODC is mandated to support UN Member States in upholding the rule of law, promoting crime prevention and effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems. The partnership with the Africa YPN contributes to several goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by addressing corruption and promoting the rule of law. The Africa YPN initiative evidently supports the achievement of SDG 16 in promoting peace, justice and strong institutions, including Target 16.3 which aims to promote the rule of law to ensure equal access to justice for all and Target 16.5 which aims to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms, for instance.
Partnerships among national, regional and international stakeholders also play a key role in the initiative which contributes to SDG 17: Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development. Furthermore, this initiative contributes to the fulfilment of SDG 10.b by encouraging official development assistance and financial flows, to States where the need is greatest including African countries among others, in accordance with their national plans and programmes.