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Jordanian gives voice to Arab youth peacemakers at UN event

24-year-old Jordanian represents Arab region at global consultations

By Camille Dupire - Nov 19,2017 - Last updated at Nov 19,2017

AMMAN — Young people from across the globe on Saturday gathered at the UN headquarters in New York for a two-day validation consultation aimed at presenting key findings and recommendations from the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) conducted throughout 2017.

Organised as the final stage of a series of discussions that started in December 2016, the event seeks to reflect on the seven regional consultations held with selected youth in the Arab world, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, East and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa and Europe.

"This grassroots consultation is essential in challenging the current narrative of youth being the problem or the danger in the heated parts of the world," said Barik Mhadeen, the Jordanian representative of the Arab regional study group.

A prominent peacemaking activist, the 24-year-old took part in the Arab world regional consultation held in December 2016. "This is a historic move and it is especially relevant for us: the youth in the Arab world,” he told The Jordan Times ahead of the conference, adding: “Because our region has been through so much conflict and instability, youth involvement in peacemaking is really an area that should be on top of the national agendas. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet seen that happen as it should have."

With around 30 per cent — 105 million people — of the Arab population being between 15 and 29 years of age, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Arab Human Development Report 2016, the issue of youth contribution to peacemaking has become crucial.

Mhadeen, who was born in Karak in southern Jordan, voiced his pride to see Jordan take a leading role in the Progress Study, “in line with the vision of HRH Crown Prince Hussein”. 

“We have been deeply involved in this process, starting from the Amman Youth Declaration formulated at the Global Youth Forum held in Jordan in 2015,” he said, noting that the declaration “completely feeds into the UN Resolution on YPS”.

Adopted in December 2015, the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on YPS mandated the secretary general “to carry out a progress study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels”, according to the UN website.

The resolution seeks to tackle the issue of youth participation in policymaking at a time when the vast majority of young people are being excluded from — or on the margins of — policymaking, a phenomenon further heightened in areas of conflict, where young men are predominantly perceived as primary perpetrators of violence while young women are seen as passive victims, a statement by Youth4Peace said.

A multi-stakeholder partnership between the UNDP, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), Search for Common Ground (SfCG) and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY), Youth4Peace seeks to be the platform promoting and supporting the implementation of the UN Resolution 2250, according to its website.

“Because we are youth ourselves, who went through some of the same experiences and faced similar challenges, it is much easier for the young public to relate. They trust us because, for once, they feel like their voice is being heard,” the young Jordanian said, commending the grassroots horizontal approach adopted by the resolution.

Along with the seven regional consultations, over 120 focus group discussions have been conducted with “hard-to-reach youth” in 12 countries, in addition to a global survey and youth mapping.

The two-day UN Validation Consultation event is “an opportunity to improve and confirm the key messages and recommendations of the progress study from young people’s perspective,” the organisers’ statement said, noting that the open discussions combining diverse regional perspectives will help in better understanding the realities and priorities of young people.

A series of key messages and recommendations agreed upon by youth participants will be drafted as an outcome of the consultation, to help produce an operational and strategic report proposing a forward-looking agenda for the international community. 

“I can see a lot of change happening in the next 5 to 10 years, especially in the MENA region. It is clear that we are now at a shifting point, and I really have at heart to build a future on a positive dynamic alongside all those youth,” Mhadeen concluded.







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