Our Perspective Articles

      • A clash of generations: How high percentages of young people can fuel conflicts | Henrik Urdal

        20 Dec 2013

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        Refugees from Syria's conflict. (Photo: UNHCR)

        In a time of unprecedented demographic change — there will be an estimated 9.6 billion people mainly concentrated in cities around the globe by 2050 — population structures play a significant role in the overall peace and stability of a country. My research focuses on the correlation between populations with burgeoning numbers of young people, which social scientists call "youth bulges," instability, and conflicts. Around the world, 68 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Yemen, have demographic pyramids heavily skewed towards younger populations. Many of these countries, where more than 30 percent of the adult population is between the ages of 15 and 24, are currently experiencing violence or social or political unrest. While youth bulges are not the only cause of violence, when combined with low education, a failing job market unable to employ high numbers of young workers, and an inaccessible political system excluding youth from participation, the risk of conflict increases. The current conflict in Syria is a case in point. In 2000, Syria had the third-largest youth bulge in the world, as well as one of the lowest rates of secondary education in the Middle East and North Africa. As in many other countries in the region,Read More

      • Human Rights Day | Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed

        10 Dec 2013

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        By Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN Resident Coordinator

        First of all, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the people of Yemen following the sad events of last Thursday. Our hearts are with families and friends of victims that were robbed the most basic human right of all – the right to life. I have the whole UN family in Yemen with me joining your grief of the lost lives and the wounded. Last week also witnessed a great leader and global role model reaching the end of a fruitful and inspiring life. As we celebrate Human Rights Day this year, we remember how this leader started a global struggle that we are now left to continue. Nelson Mandela once said that: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Our freedom and our rights depend on each other; we are called to protect not only our own rights, but those of our sisters and brothers, regardless of race, religion, tribe, nationality or gender. Respect for human rights principles stands at the heart of all the work we as the UN are doing. This is not merely because it isRead More

      • Water More Important Than Oil for the Future of the Arab World | Sima Bahous

        28 Nov 2013

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        UNDP Lebanon

        Across the Arab world a consensus is emerging that the Arab peoples are facing a new transformation in their relation with the natural world.  If the last seventy years can be considered the era of oil in the Arab world, the years to come will be shaped to a much greater extent by how we make use of an even more precious resource: water. Today the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is launching a new report on the future of water in the Arab region. Entitled the Arab Water Governance Report, the publication argues that the future will depend on whether the Arab countries can vastly improve the way water is managed. Oil and gas have allowed for significant modernization over recent decades including unprecedented improvement in human development, but continuing our progress requires us to treat our water with as much reverence as we have our energy resources – or even more. The report argues that the water challenges facing the Arab region are part-and-parcel of a much broader set of issues that are of paramount importance today.  From agricultural decline, to youth unemployment and indeed in many cases to civil unrest, mostRead More