Never before has the region had such a large share of youth, with young people between the ages of 15–29 making up around 30 percent of the population - or some 105 million people - in a region in which 60 percent of the population has not yet reached the age of 30.
According to the 2016 Arab Human Development Report: Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality, recently launched by UNDP, the global financial and economic crisis in 2008–2009, coupled with political instability since 2011, have had a negative impact on human development in the region. Between 2000–2003 and 2010–2015, the number of armed conflicts and violent crises in the region have risen from 4 to 11, and many of them are becoming protracted in nature.
Mending and protecting the social fabric within a given country will require a multi-faceted and integrated approach, with linkages between political and economic development, humanitarian assistance, strengthening of civil society and peacebuilding. Focusing on the peacebuilding dimension, it is critical to engage youth at the community, national and regional levels as effective agents of peace supporting conflict resolution and mitigating tension where it may arise. Many young peacebuilders across the region have taken on this difficult task, and continuing to support their efforts will help consolidate a path of non-violence.
In this context, the Regional United Nations Development Group Interagency Technical Task Team on Young People (r/UNDG IATTTYP) developed a Regional Framework of Joint Strategic Actions for Young People in the Arab States and MENA (2016-2017). The framework includes a set of four thematic priorities (Employment, Civic Engagement, Participation and Inclusion, Health and Education) together with strategic actions responding to the needs of young people both at the regional and country levels for a greater impact.
Creating sustainable peace cannot be achieved through engaging young peacebuilders alone.
For more information and to get involved with the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in the Arab States, please join our dedicated space.
More information on the consultation and dialogue is available here.