30 October 2018, GENEVA - Anger among youth in the Arab region is coupled with a perceived sense of powerlessness which leads it to become detached from current affairs, says Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, at the European Centre for Peace Development 6th Global Youth Forum held in Belgrade.

Ambassador Jazairy told the audience that “each generation wants to chart two tracks one short track to improve the present and a longer one to reshape the architecture of its future in the pursuit of its own ideal.”

In relation to the present track, Ambassador Jazairy added that the younger generation in the Arab region aspires to enhance their participation in decision-making and in “promoting a culture of accountability in the field of human rights.”  

In the case of their forebears, - he observed - the quest for human dignity was dominated by “patriotic anti-colonialism” and the search for “sovereignty.” However, youth do not consider like their forebears that their quest for dignity is a short track leading to sovereignty as the latter is already a given.

Therefore, the search for human dignity which for “their elders targeted their anger outwards against the colonial powers is pursued by the younger generation while targeting their anger inwards towards the status quo,” he said.  “However, both generations are bound by a shared “opposition to foreign interference whether through punitive sanctions or through invasion which compounds their anger when they occur,” added Ambassador Jazairy

With regard to the longer track and long-term ideal, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Communist ideology deprived the younger generation from the “cementing effect of a nation centralised through statism and socialism.” The lack of a perceived long-term ideal for the future “had led the youth also to excavate an imagined ideal from the pre-colonial past i.e. the euphoric vision of an Islamic nation,“ he remarked.  

In this context, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director therefore upheld the view that the loss of “a social compass” amongst the youth has “degenerated into anger coupled with a perceived and probably excessive sense of powerlessness.” “It explains why the Arab commotion called ‘Arab Spring’ was hardly more than social spasms generated by anger but deprived of a credible ideal for the longer term,” added Ambassador Jazairy in his presentation to the audience.

To address the prevailing situation affecting the growing degree of powerlessness of youth in the Arab region, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre stated that attaining equal citizenship rights and the rights-based “leitmotif of E Pluribus Unum” is the best way to defuse tensions and create resilient and cohesive societies. This would in the long run – he observed – enable all citizens to enjoy indiscriminately the same rights, privileges and duties.

It will ultimately make irrelevant or obsolete the marginalizing and even oppressive connotations of concepts of ethnic, religious or gender minorities. It will cloak all individuals in a nation with the same right to dignity. Indeed the concept of minorities will seamlessly yield to that of social components of diversity in unity,” Ambassador Jazairy concluded in his presentation.

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