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Arab Spring: the sequel? UN report predicts another uprising Open in fullscreen

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Arab Spring: the sequel? UN report predicts another uprising

The Arab world's disenfranchised youth are catalysts for change, says the report [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 December, 2016

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Unemployment, poverty and exclusion are fuelling an urgent need for reform, a UN report on the development of Arabs has warned, predicting another bout of uprisings.
Disenchanted and frustrated Arab youths are on the verge of another uprising, a UN report has warned.

High unemployment, poverty, exclusion and violence since the 2011 Arab Spring are fuelling another urgent need for reform, as an increasing state crack down on dissent fails to pay attention to its causes.

"Youth are not the only population group to bear the brunt of failed policies; nor do they alone suffer the effects of war and conflict," said the Arab Human Development Report, released this week.

"However, unless current trends are shifted, youth in Arab countries stand to inherit stagnant, violent, or otherwise failed societies that few of their number had a hand in making, and they are the ones who will have to rebuild these societies."

Before the 2011 revolutions which toppled four despotic leaders, four countries were mired in armed conflict. Now that figure stands at 11.

By 2020, almost three out of four Arabs could be "living in countries vulnerable to conflict", the report predicts.

The Arab youth population (aged 15-29) has reached 105 million, with unemployment, poverty and marginalisation among them growing fast.

The youth unemployment rate, at 30 percent, stands at more than twice the world's average of 14 percent. Almost half of young Arab women looking for jobs are unsuccessful, compared to a global average of 16 percent.

However the younger generation are now more connected than ever with the rest of the world through social media and are likely to have different views and sense of identity to senior citizens.

Youth in Arab countries could be effective agents of positive change provided their capabilities are recognised, developed and called upon

The report lays responsibility for their disenfranchisement on regimes, in which the youth in particular have been denied influence over public policy affecting their lives.

"Social attitudes that treat young Arabs as passive dependants or merely as a generation-in-waiting will have to change," the report said.

"Youth in Arab countries could be effective agents of positive change provided their capabilities are recognised, developed and called upon."

Though less likely to vote than the global average, young Arabs are much more inclined to protest, the report noted.

Arab protest movements tend to come in five-year cycles. North Africa's unrest peaked in 2001, 2006 and 2011, each time more turbulent than the last.

"Disgruntled" young Arabs "may prefer more direct, more violent means", the report says, "especially if they are convinced that existing mechanisms for participation and accountability are useless".

It concludes: "Events since 2011 have proved also that employing a predominantly security-based approach to responding to demands for change without addressing the root causes of discontent may achieve temporary stability and ward off cycles of protest, but does not reduce the possibilities of their recurrence it may lead to the accumulation of these demands and their re-emergence more violently."

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