The youth in the MENA, the way forward: report of a side-event of the Human Rights Council

News - On the 21st June, a side-event on the perspective of young generations was organized at the 32nd Session of Human Rights Council by Jssor Youth Organization. The panelists' main focus was on what young people and  thecivil society do for the future.



Sana Rafii – Lawyer and Human rights activist – Arab organization – Lebannon

Sana Rafi started her speech by saying that the young people are more numerous than ever before, but a lot of them are suffering from unemployment, war, bad economic situations and social constraints. Therefore, many among them end up being refugees and are subjected to poverty, exploitation, distance and forced displacements.
She considers that young people are the category the most motivated amongst all populations to support human rights. This has been proven by the Arab spring. The essential role of youth needs to be highlighted in these revolutions: from leadership to the setting up of new structures after the revolution, they played a big part in it and have indeed a decisive role in the field of human rights.

The new information and communication technologies (NICT) are part of the tools used by the young generation to create links, to improve life and society, to support human rights. She highlighted that youth is responsible for change and human rights, because young people are the ones who try to preserve these rights when they are confronted to the diverse violations they have to endure.
However the older generation, mainly male, is still the one in charge. She took Lebanon as an example, in which the minister average age is 63: meanwhile, only one woman occupies the function of minister. The same pattern is repeated in the MENA. Sana Rafii has therefore set some targets: she would like young people, and especially women, to be better represented in knowledge and culture spheres, as well as in terms of participation. She asked for youth participation in decision-making, and youth representatives at all scales from local to international.

Malaak Daneshyar – Law student – Iraq

Malak Daneshyar emphasized that youth and children don’t know their potential, and governments take advantage of that to commit abuses. He reckons poverty, unemployment and inequality are the main issues for youth.
He added that the fight against Daesh is also social and concerns media because they use media a lot to recruit young people. But, from his viewpoint, social media also enable to raise awareness. That is an important point to consider since education is rarely free and most of the structures are private. He called for the creation of educative institutions, because he thinks education is the most important issue for youth empowerment, even if unemployment concerns also graduated people.
He pursued by taking the example of the UK where there is a youth parliament and judged that we need to follow these kind of examples of youth institutions and participation.

Majoba Chokri – Teacher – Member of MATE – Morocco

Majoba Chokri enumerated the fundamental challenges for youth: education, employment, respect, and equality. From her point of view, youth is a source of productivity, opportunity, and growth. Young people possess a huge potential but they can become frustrated when there is no outlet in which to express it.
50% of the population in Morocco is composed of young people, so she thinks that it is the moment for them to act with the Moroccan state. The country makes efforts to include youth in politics: their rate of participation in political affairs is encouraging. She highlighted the importance of engaging young people and favor their initiatives. Efforts exist in Morocco to fill this gap, but there is still a long way to go to make their voices heard in final political decisions.
She also argued that firms and NGOs have a role to play in the unemployment issue, which is a real obstacle for youth. In firms, managers have to support youth. NGOs can lead education to prevent prostitution, drugs, crimes, etc. She also urged associations to hire young Moroccan for specific remunerated missions.

Ahmed Dahim – Civil and human rights lawyer – Algeria

Ahmed Dahim focused his speech on his country, Algeria. Youth represents 60% of population in this country. Young people have been influenced by globalization and then by events surrounding them, like the way the Arab Spring left a strong imprint on the society in Algeria. A lot of them did not follow the Arab Spring because they thought it was useless.
Today, Algeria tries to demand more rights and freedom. Ahmed Dahim took the example of the progress about woman representations in decision-making. The international community needs to be strengthened to enable equality about freedom of movements, education and health care.

Mohammed Sultan – Youth empowerment – Bahrain Centre for human rights – Bahrain

Mohammed Sultan argued that the young community has to be stronger, and needs to be involved in development and decision making. Young people have a role to play in the energy, health or science spheres. Communication through media and social networks, especially about human rights, has good potential.


Personal opinion:
It was an interesting event but all the panelist were reading their texts. They were not analyzing the situation but told only their personal opinions, and gave few tangible facts for a better understanding of the situation of young people in their countries. There was no time for questions and debate.


Chloé Guille, Research Assistant at CIPADH