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More than 20 young representatives from 11 Arab countries met in Marseille, on November 5-6, 2013 under the auspices of CMI, the League of Arab States and the World Bank to plan the establishment of a common platform. As part of the CMI supported Arab Youth Initiative, this platform will gather youth led NGOs across the MENA region with the objective of increasing youth voice in decision making. The gathering, which was opened by Mourad Ezzine, CMI manager and Ambassador Ahmed Noah, Director of Population Policy Department at LAS, included presentations by key partners such as Microsoft as well as knowledge sharing sessions by the Morocco Consultative Youth Council.
The Arab Youth Initiative has its origins in the Conference Young People in Arab Countries: Promoting Opportunities and Participation, sponsored by CMI with the League of Arab States’ General Secretariat for Social Affairs and AFD. Held at the Ecole de la Deuxieme Chance in Marseille on April 28-30, 2010, the conference gathered over 115 international and regional participants, including several Arab ministers, youth representatives and the private sector and concluded by a conference statement endorsed by all participants. A subsequent conference, Towards a New Era of Arab Youth Empowerment, held in Cairo on September 25-27, 2011, was co-organized with the League of Arab States. The conference statement, formally endorsed by all participants and organizers, called for the establishment of (i) independent youth structures representing youth in decision making at local, national and regional levels, and (ii) an on line youth led platform using e-learning for youth participation and engagement, including human rights principles and practices. The latter is almost entirely funded by Microsoft.
At the origin of this Arab Youth Initiative with the League of Arab States, is the desire to help bridge the gap between youth aspirations for voice, inclusion and participation and decision making institutions. Through this initiative, the CMI brings different stakeholders together for high-level dialogue on youth policy development and offers opportunities for coalition building to youth representatives at national and regional level. The goal is to empower change agents by offering direct capacity building and leveraging public-private-NGOs partnerships.