The UN does not support Arab youth, forum hears

March 13, 2011

Attendees at a youth forum in Qatar blame the United Nations and governments for the lack of an agency to support youth issues and are calling for tangible action to address the concerns of young men and women in the Arab region.

“No exclusive UN agency is supporting youth issues and there are only fragmented efforts that are not well-supported by a UN scheme,” said Ahmad Al Hindawi, a youth policy advisor at the Arab League.

“This is a year to take tough decisions, not to celebrate. The question is how you make the momentum,” he told a session at the forum named “Framework of the International Year of the Youth and best ways to achieve it”.

The session was part of the Expert Group Meeting on “dialogue and mutual understanding across generations” held in observance of the International Year of the Youth 2010-2011 and as part of preparations for 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2014, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported Wednesday.

Nicola Shepherd, UN Focal Point on Youth and one of the panellists at the session, put the blame on the lack of funds, and a lack of commitment by governments, for  youth programmes.

“There is no decision so far by the UN general assembly to set up a UN agency for the youth. Even the UN Programme for the Youth has been suffering from a shortage of staff and resources,” Shepherd said.

“We cannot do anything without support from the governments. If you want concrete action, you should force the governments to take decisions,” she said, as quoted by the daily.

The issue was raised by participants at the UN-sponsored event in the context of the mass uprising taking place in several Arab countries in which young people are playing a key  role.

However, Professor Rami Khouri, a writer, argued against compartmentalising youth issues, saying that most problems faced by the youth in the Arab world were shared by other members of society.

He said that the mass uprising in the region had brought this issue into focus.

For another participant, the poor representation of youth at the meeting meant that “we are still paying lip service to the youth”.

However, Al Hindawi was quoted in The Peninsula as saying that the Arab League would soon launch an online survey among youth in the region to understand their problems and sentiments.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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