THE OIC YOUTH STRATEGY
To promote the rights of youth within the OIC, two approaches have been adopted: the first is policies and decisions that support and guarantee the rights of youth, second the institutions that work to implement these decisions and policies through concrete programs and projects.
International references on Youth Policy, the existent international documents in the field of youth set the framework to be valorized for the OIC Youth Policy development. At the United Nations’ level, the General Assembly was asked, through the Resolution No. 3140 issued on 14th of December 1973 by the Economic and Social Council to study the possibility of the development and established of international policies focused on youth rights, at the national and international level. The Prague Declaration of 1998 was stating the essential role of youth in human development and then in 2001, the World Youth Strategy was also re-affirming the role of youth in the World advancement.
In terms of youth rights, six main fields had been defined through the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (1996):
- first, the right to a decent life: should the young people live a decent life in his own community and his country;
- second, the right to express an opinion: young people should be provided with an opportunity to express their aspirations, ideas, hopes and their concerns;
- third, the right to a good education: the young people should have the right to enjoy quality education in his homeland, which fits the requirements of the labor market, it should also provide appropriate scholarships, especially in university level;
- fourth, the right to a good health: future generations should be provided with the enjoyment of good health centers to take care of young people's health;
- fifth, the right to an appropriate profession: governments must assume their responsibilities towards the young graduates in various disciplines. Providing jobs for these graduates in either the public sector or the private sector; or granting affordable loans to young entrepreneurs to establish small or medium enterprises;
- sixth, the right to development: It should be provided for young people an opportunity to contribute to the community development in their own communities and their country, according to various specialties, both at the political level to engage in political parties and access to leadership positions in these parties and therefore should recommend young people to participate in decision-making.
The Arab Declaration on Youth to enable Youth also dedicated important articles on women empowerment as well as in investing in the development of youth participatory schemes.
The Rabat Declaration on Population and Development, 5th December 2003 actively promoted a better allocation of resources for equitable social policies including Youth.
The OIC Youth Strategy is a common guiding framework, which enables the OIC Member States to engage with peer support mechanisms, utilizing tools and instruments to respond to national youth needs. For this purpose, stakeholders with competencies and responsibilities in the field of youth are to work together to develop clear objectives related to education emploment, human rights, etc, define sets of actions, and identify timelines and implementation procedures.
These objectives of the OIC Youth Strategy cuts across Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and constitute the necessary steps towards achieving the SDGs, especially in regards to Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 4 (Quality Education), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), Goal 8 (Good Jobs and Economic Growth), Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities), Goal 16 (Peace and Justice).
Created institutional framework for the implementation of the youth policy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission is engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights in the Muslim world and beyond.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) launched numerous youth-oriented development initiatives throughout the OIC Member States. These include the Youth Employment Support (YES) Program, the Islamic Financial Services Department’s (IFSD) Microfinance Development Program (MDP), as well as the provision of scholarships on the bachelors, masters and PhD levels. All these programs support one of the most important right of youth, namely education.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) its programs seek to build a culture of rights awareness among young people.
The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), which highlights the state of youth from their political, economic and social perspective to enable the OIC member states and institutions to adopt effective policies regarding political participation, economic opportunities and human rights.
The International Union of Muslim Scouts (IUMS), which trains Youth on civic action and increase their engagement in communities and societies.
The role of the Islamic Cooperation Youth Conference in promoting youth rights is also huge.
At the same time, there are specific challenges and barriers faced by youth. Average youth literacy rates in OIC Member States are still lower than those of non-OIC developing countries and the world average. On average, 85.3% of youth are literate, which is well below the world average (91.0%) and average of non-OIC developing countries (93.0%).
The “No Children out of School by 2030” project is an initiative of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD). ICYF cooperates in the execution of this project as part of its commitment to 4th goal of education of the agenda of sustainable development goals in the OIC member states. The aim of the project is to return children out of school to their schools again by way of signing the declaration of “Leaving no Children out of School till 2030” project, passing on relevant resolutions, and collaborating with the concerned parties to build and restore the ruined or damaged school.
Unemployment of youth in OIC Member state is more than 16% and also well above the averages of non-OIC developing and developed countries. Youth who cannot find decent jobs and as a result cannot get married- end up excluded from the economy and society alike. This causes tremendous frustration to youth and without the availability of conduits to channel this frustration, a portion of those youth end up being driven down the path of radicalism and violent extremism believing that it is the only solution to implement change.
The Establishment of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum, the affiliated OIC Youth institution was positive development towards advancing the effectiveness of the OIC activities in the youth field. As an important platform for the development of the OIC youth, ICYF enables to match voice of youth with voice of governments, to strengthen the solidarity among the Muslim youth, to provide intellectual and creative development of Muslim youth, to guarantee equal stand of Muslim youth vis-à-vis their Western same-ages on international scene. ICYF rise the awareness on youth rights and build their capabilities.
Civic participation right defines as working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community, youth civic engagement enriches the lives of youths and enables them to unleash their potential and contribute to the development of their societies. It involves developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference.
This program brings together experts and representatives of youth organizations, academia, representatives of Member States, and other partners to discuss the ways in which youth civic engagement in the OIC can be an enabler for political, social and economic participation, as well as to examine current opportunities and challenges affecting such potential. The program consists of numerous activities ranging from round-table discussions and organizing and public-awareness campaigns to contribution to the community building and environmentalism.
* Rasul OMAROV - Director General of the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum