by Abdallah Sobeih
Published on: Jan 22, 2005
Type: Opinions

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the declaration consists of 30 articles, I would like to state for you two articles from those 30, article number 18 which says "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, work-ship and observance."

Article number 19 states "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

We are living in an era of dramatic change and transition, in a world that is being transformed by complex financial systems and revolutionary information technologies into the vast global marketplace. Globalization is creating new patterns of interaction among people and states, promising unprecedented opportunities for material progress in a larger freedom, but also threatening to compound many existing challenges before the international community while deepening the economic marginalization of those most vulnerable. In this complex scenario, human rights, which were embedded formally at the UN as a great international priority 56 years ago – by the means of the December 1948 universal declaration of Human Rights – have gained prominence as a universally recognized set of norms and standards that increasingly inform all aspects of our relations as individuals and as collective members of groups, within communities and among nations.

There is now universal recognition for respect of human rights – the rights of political choice and association of opinion and expression, and of culture; the freedom from fear and from all forms of discrimination and prejudice; freedom from want and the right to employment and well-being and collectively, to development – which is essential to the sustainable achievements of three agreed global priorities of peace, development and democracy.

This was a brief about what is supposed to be for all the people in this world, but when we look to what is going on in the real world especially the young people. We observe common challenges for the young people. Young people are not really empowered, what I mean by empowerment here is offering the space and freedom for them to participate and to express themselves.

Today among the unemployed people around the world, 47% are youth and about 20% of those are living under a US dollar a day.

Unemployment leads to hopelessness, despair and lower self-esteem.

It's reported that by having the current youth unemployment, 2.2 trillion US dollars could be added to the GDP.

The link between youth unemployment and social exclusion has been clearly established; an inability to find a job creates a sense of vulnerability, uselessness and idleness among young people and can heighten the attraction of engaging in illegal activities.

For many young people today, being without work means being without a chance to work themselves out of poverty.

Open unemployment is only part of the challenge; even where young people are working, conditions of work may be poor. In both industrialized and developing economies, young people are more likely to have intermittent (temporary, part-time, casual) work and increase arrangements, oftentimes in the informal economy with limited labor protection. This often leads to the disempowerment of the youth involved in such situation making them more vulnerable.

Juan Somavia, Director/General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) – 2004 – said "We are wasting an important part of the energy and talent of the most educated youth generation the world has ever had."

It's helpful to think about the idea of "power" and the various forms it takes. Often "power" is negatively associated with control over others, winners and losers, and coming out on top. Yet "power" can also come from within a person in the form of self-confidence, faith, and courage. It can also derive from working with others to achieve more collectively than could be done separately.

Empowerment is not something that is given by those who have it to those who do not have it.

This empowerment is what I would like to talk about today and how we ensure that an intergenerational dialogue and partnership is established to create an open, free and non-threatening environment for youth to share their fears, issues, experiences, and prospects.

One day I was talking with one of my co-workers Dr. Puneetha Palakurti at the EDC, I told her, "Young people feel disappointed and are losing hope." She replied to me by saying, "Don't ever lose hope, believe in yourself and the YES networks, because you guys are examples of youth leadership, intergenerational partnership and multi stakeholders involvement. Through these networks the youth in developing countries are transforming the challenges into opportunities and problems into prospects and are driving the campaign to achieve its goals, work hard, dream. You guys are the hope of your communities."

In a few simple words, this means that the youth equals hope.


• Empower youth to dream and have visions of positive changes in their communities where every individual has equal access to the resources to achieve the best of their full potential.
• Empower youth to take charge and address the problems that are being faced by their communities by taking up innovative and collaborative action.
• Empower youth to think and act collaboratively to build societies based on the trust, partnerships and accountability.
• Empower youth to get involved in policy making and decision making that affects their present and future.

Although the majority of the residents of the Earth are young people they look as though they are minorities.

We observed that young people today have difficulties in cooperating with the state institutions;

Their voice is not heard;

They can't find themselves in the decision-making process;

They can't find organizations or institutions to give them space for freedom of expression, the freedom as human. Most of the youth only hear about Human Rights and Freedom of Expression but they don't know what it is exactly.

All of these are making young people suffer in their self-esteem, their sense of belonging, and in their self-confidence, resulting often in feeling alienated and assimilated.

Youth are looking forward to find active youth organizations, active policy institutions, and innovative youth work.

We are here, today, representing young people to tell you; we are not part of the problem, we are the solution, we are not useless, we are used less, we are not careless, we cared less.

All in all, what youth need is enough space to participate and for freedom of expression.

Thank you.

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