Venue: Arts 56, Avenue des Arts 56, 1000 Brussels
This event will explore youth-driven analysis of shared challenges and opportunities faced by people in the Euro-Mediterranean region, and discuss action-oriented proposals to develop more positive policy narratives.
Across the European and MENA regions, there is a growing trust gap between young people and their governments, multilateral organisations and even international civil society. Reactionary political and media discourse on global terrorism in recent years, all-too-often characterising youth as “at risk” of violent extremism, has led to alienation of youth from multilateral discussions rather than empowering them as essential partners for dialogue and peace-building.
This has consequences for the business and social environment in both regions, and is a challenge that must be embraced, according to the first-ever United Nations report on the topic: “The Missing Peace: Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security.”
Key questions on how to change the narrative include:
- How to prioritise regional partnerships and collaborative action where youth are viewed as equal and essential partners for dialogue and peace?
- Are there emerging alternative ways of meaningful inclusion, or new players and opportunities that are being overlooked?
- How can converging values and interests among a millennial generation, south and north of the Mediterranean, provide new models of regional governance?
- How do governance processes benefit from the innovation, leadership and transnational connectivity of young people in the Euro-Mediterranean region?
- Will women be the game-changers?
What youth really want
The session will explore youth-driven analysis of shared challenges and opportunities faced by young people in the Euro-Mediterranean region, identifying cross border commonalities and differences, discussing action-oriented proposals to develop more positive policy narratives. This is an opportunity to listen to the voices and experiences of Euro-Mediterranean youth in order to critically evaluate the role Europe plays in shaping and influencing their lives, and suggest ways in which Europe can learn to play a more constructive role in its southern neighbourhood.
- What are the hopes and dreams of Euro-Mediterranean youth?
- What are they looking for from their societies and what do they expect from their governments?
- How do they see the relationship between the MENA and European regions?
- What do they want to achieve in their own lives and what prevents them from moving forward and reaching their goals?
President of the Anna Lindh Foundation and former French Minister
Jaafar Abdul Karim
Presenter of Shabab Talk at the Deutsche Welle TV and winner of the Mediterranean Journalist Awards
Founder of Khalifa-Ihler Institute and Kofi Annan Extremely Together Young Leader
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) and delegate to the Africa-EU Summit
Campaign Director at Avaaz and 2017 MENA Young Leader
Managing Director at New Horizons Project
Walking the talk on youth engagement
The session will explore youth-driven analysis of shared challenges and opportunities faced by young people in the Euro-Mediterranean region, identifying cross border commonalities and differences, discussing action-oriented proposals to develop more positive policy narratives. This is an opportunity to listen to the voices and experiences of youth in order to critically evaluate the role Europe plays in shaping and influencing their lives, and suggest ways in which Europe can learn to play a more constructive role in its southern neighbourhood.
- National governments and international organisations have started extolling the virtues of youth engagement but are they also walking the talk through policies and actions?
- What are the real benefits of bringing young people into the policy and decision -making machinery at the national and multilateral level?
- In which areas would such youth involvement be especially beneficial and why?
- Given the growing disengagement of young people from national and international institutions, which governance models at all level could help bridging the gap?
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV)
Abdelbasset Ben Hassen
President, Arab Institute for Human Rights
Director of Neighbourhood, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission
Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development programme at Brookings
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV)
Managing Director at New Horizons Project
Presenter of Shabab Talk on Deutsche Welle Television and winner of the 2017 Med Journalist Awards. As the name implies, “Shabab Talk” brings together young people from Germany and the Arabic countries discuss current, socio-political topics. Before hosting Shabab Talk, Jaafar Abdul Karim worked as an editor and video journalist for the talk show “Jugend ohne Grenzen” (Youth without borders); he therefore commuted between Cairo and Berlin to shoot and produce his reportages for the show. Born in Liberia and raised in Switzerland and Lebanon, Jafaar Abdul Karim feels at home in both worlds. He studied Media Computer Science at the TU (Technische Universität) Dresden and at the INSA (Institut National des Sciences Appliquées) Lyon; additionally he completed a directing workshop at the London Film Academy. Now Jaafar lives in multiple cultures. This had a decisive influence on him and his life.
Haia has been an active volunteer with the “Madrasati Initiative”, which focuses on schools in Jordan. She finds joy in giving to others. Haia has always been an active member in civic and social associations and, as a believer in feminism and female empowerment, came up with an initiative during her sophomore year with a group of youth that aims to raise awareness of early marriage issues among under age girls. Haia also participated in Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, which was held in Vienna in March 2018. Furthermore, she is involved in international initiatives such as Young Arab Voices and Young Mediterranean Voices Plus. The former is an international debate competition and over the years, she has attained the title of Master Trainer and, together with her team, won several international competitions. The latter is the initiative of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU Federica Mogherini regarding MENA and Europe which aims to redefine EU South politics through youth participation.
Abdelbasset Ben Hassen is the President of the Arab Institute for Human Rights. Abdelbasset is also the chairman of the Tunisian national committee for the support of refugees and served as a member of the high committee for the realization of the objectives of the revolution, political reform and democratic transition. Previously, he taught Human Rights in Tunis and Strasbourg, and has written extensively on human rights, human rights education and culture. He was a member of the drafting committee of the United Nations World Program on Human Rights Education.
Esmat is passionate about structured cross-cultural dialogue and debates. She is a founder of the Young Arab Voices Project in Egypt, which started in 2011 with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the British Council. She is also a debate trainer and adjudicator. Esmat has co-founded 2 national initiatives in Egypt: “Debate for Life” and “Engaging-Empowerment Egyptian Youth (EYouth)”, which worked on training Egyptian youth in debating, dialogue and entrepreneurial skills. Esmat is one of the 36 Youth Fellows of the AU-EU Youth Plug initiative who designed and wrote the Youth Agenda presented to heads of states at the Abidjan Summit in November 2017. Esmat worked on the Governance and Political inclusion section, which created three initiatives to enhance AU–EU cooperation in the areas of decentralization of governance, illicit financial flows and utilizing e-governence tools to enhance transparency and accountability across AU and EU member states
Hella’s experience with Young Arab Voices started in 2014 and inspired her to immerse herself in civil society, grassroots activism and women’s empowerment. With the École Normale Supérieure debate team, she won the Tunisian national debate competition and was the fourth best debater. Hella is also a Co-Founder of Aspire to Inspire, an initiative aiming to promote English Spoken Word poetry in Tunis and is currently very active with the socio-cultural grassroots initiative called “Blech 7ess” (Without Noise), focused on pairing the promotion of art with social dimensions. Being a writer herself, she recently published a few works and is also writing lyrics for local bands. She has worked for the German embassy in Tunis since 2017.
Elisabeth Guigou is president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, a network of civil society organisations dedicated to promoting intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean region. Before this appointment, Guigou served as French Minister of European Affairs, member of the European Parliament, and member of the French National Assembly, among numerous other posts. In addition to this, Guigou was the first female to be appointed Minister of Justice in France, where she distinguished herself for her fight for a more independent justice system.
Bjørn Ihler is an international counter extremism expert and activist working as a filmmaker, editor and writer to develop spaces for dialogue and peace-building between different people and communities. In 2016, he co-founded the Khalifa Ihler Institute that works for peace through knowledge, technology and design. Since 2016 Bjørn has also been part of the Kofi Annan Foundation initiative Extremely Together, and he explores means of countering violent extremism as one of ten young leaders in the field from across the world. Bjørn is building his work on a foundation in communication, technology, data and computational sociology as well as his academic background in peace and conflict studies.
Michael Köhler has been Director of Neighbourhood Policy since 2015, in this capacity he is responsible for cooperation with Mediterranean Arab countries and Israel. Since joining the European Commission he has held many positions including Director for the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood in the Directorate General for Development and International Cooperation; Head of Cabinet to the Commissioner for Energy; and Head of Cabinet to the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. He previously worked as a representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Morocco and Tunisia, and in the Policy Planning Department of the Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development in Germany. He has authored numerous books and articles on international Islamic studies and foreign policy. He is also a Professor of Europe and the Mediterranean at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.
Fadi Quran is a leading figure in Palestine, committed to achieving freedom, justice and dignity for the Palestinian people. As Campaign Director at Avaaz, a global online civic movement, he is responsible for the organisation’s campaigning and investigative efforts on issues including human rights, democracy, poverty and conflict. His leadership has helped push for legislation on Big Tech and he has featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and BBC, among other news outlets. Fadi is a community organiser for Popular Struggle, a policy member of the Al-Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network and a former United Nations advocacy officer. In addition to his work in advocacy and international law, Fadi is also a renewable energy entrepreneur in MENA, with a focus on shifting the region away from fossil fuels. He has founded two companies, bringing wind and solar energy power to Palestine and other countries in the region.
Tarik Yousef is a Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development programme and the Director of the Brookings Doha Center. He has worked extensively in the academic world, as well as in the public policy arena, with experience from the IMF, the World Bank and the UN, and more recently from the NGO Silatech. He is a development expert on the economies of the Middle East and North Africa. Tarik has also served on the advisory boards of development organisations and boards of directors of financial institutions.
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