“Youth in Arab countries could be effective agents of positive change provided their capabilities are recognized, developed and called upon. Since 2011, uprisings and social unrest have affected several Arab countries, and a number have fallen into protracted conflict. The year 2011 was a tipping point: since then, the momentum for change has been unstoppable, and a new epoch began unfolding in the region,” observes the United Nations Arab Human Development Report 2016.
The central focus of the report is young people in the Arab region. It sheds light on them and argues that they’re not a problem or a burden on development, rather a key resource for resolving the problems afflicting the region. “Arab states can achieve a huge developmental leap and ensure durable stability if they put the empowerment of their youth at the top of their urgent priorities and harness their energy to advance development processes,” the report said.
The report further states that if the youth’s capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them, they can become an overwhelming power of destruction. “Today’s generation of young people is more educated, active and connected to the outside world, and hence have a greater awareness of their realities and higher aspirations for a better future. However, young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living. As a result, instead of being a massive potential for building the future, youth can become an overwhelming power for destruction.”
The Arab region, which is witnessing serious upheavals right from the scourge of the Islamic State to escalation of conflicts in the region, in certain instances is undergoing reverse progress and dogged by instability. To this effect, the report notes, “In our Arab region, which is experiencing an unprecedented escalation of conflicts that undermine gains of development, and in some instances reverse progress, the pursuit of empowerment must be rooted in serious and rapid efforts to establish security, peace and social stability, ensuring the full and active participation of young people in such efforts.”