Joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission on “Partnerships for job creation for young people in countries emerging from conflict”
Report by Devindree Pillay
Friday, June 8, 2012
A joint event was held at the UN Headquarters by the Peacebuilding Commission and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), on the topic Partnerships for Job Creation for Young People in Countries Emerging from Conflict. United Nations officials stressed the need for partnerships across governments, the private sector and civil society to urgently tackle the challenge of job creation in post-conflict countries, especially for young people, who make up the bulk of these populations.
The Chairman of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Abulkalam Abdul Momen, indicated that “Job creation, especially for young people, in all post-conflict countries is an essential part of peacebuilding and more importantly, conflict prevention or relapsing into conflicts,” Mr. Momen said that post-conflict countries face enormous challenges in providing economic and social stability to their youth, which constitute a very significant part of their population.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro pointed out that the role of the private sector is crucial and noted that policies should encourage apprenticeships and entrepreneurship mentoring programmes. Private employers can also help ensure that training policies match market needs and facilitate youth access to markets, capital and networks. Young entrepreneurs, in particular, would benefit from less cumbersome administrative procedures to start new businesses and engage with the formal sector.
President of ECOSOC, Miloš Koterec, alerted the audience that while the majority of young people may not get involved in violence, unemployment and underemployment can cause conflict or lead to youth involvement in criminal activities – such as the drugs trade, armed groups and other illegal trade – that offer livelihood opportunities. Mr. Koterec added that experience has shown that successful and innovative youth employment schemes typically share several common features: they are well-crafted to the needs and challenges of the local community; they promote practices rooted in firm, empirical evidence; and they are “scalable” – easily copied elsewhere.
It was encouraging to note that key stakeholders were demonstrating such concern for the welfare of young people, and it’s related positive impact on society at large. However, I was pondering on how young people themselves could also be sustainable, active participants in the “partnership” and not just beneficiaries. This thought was supported by a statement made by the distinguished delegate of Germany during the interactive dialogue that followed the key presentations. It was suggested that in addition to technical and vocational skills training, micro-lending schemes and creation of job opportunities – young people need “personal and social development skills that will improve strength of mind”.
I certainly agree with this statement. I am of the opinion that just as food, water and shelter are considered to be necessities for the basic survival of the human body, the recognition and experience of our intrinsic state of dignity is equally important for the survival of the human spirit. Personal dignity is a state of being. It cannot be fully taken away from an individual so long as she or he continues to maintain it internally. Dignity is a value that includes self-respect and respect for others. The values of courage, determination, self-confidence and self-efficacy emerge from this state of dignity. In building personal capacity amongst young people, we can directly impact how youth see themselves, perceive others and relate with those around them. It is possible for youth to shift out of the mode of being passive recipients or dependents and this in turn would affect how they participate in eradicating social ills such as poverty. If young men and women recognize their own self-worth and dignity, they would feel empowered to actively claim their rights to the dignity of receiving an income. Regardless of the limitations imposed by the current economic climate and job market, there is a strong possibility that we can utilize the transformative power of our innate dignity to generate an honest income. Although it may be a challenge, the scope for honest income generation can be explored with a variety of “out of the box” and creative pursuits. This will promote economic and social growth that is sustainable and will have a great impact on bringing real change in people’s lives.