Reinventing the Rules

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Event: ABA ROLI Hosts Panel on The Role of Youth in Rule of Law

Last month, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a timely panel on “Youth and the Rule of Law” in Washington, DC. You can read some of the excerpts below and listen to audio clips from the panel.

Maryanne YerkesSenior Civil Society Advisor and Acting USAID Youth Advisor, Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Center, U.S. Agency for International Development

As Acting USAID Youth Advisor, Maryanne shared her views on the importance of increasing youth programs and the objectives behind USAID’s new Youth Policy. Read a few excerpts from her presentation below:

Identifying Rule of Law Programs for Youth

Credit: ABA ROLI

Credit: ABA ROLI

Currently there aren’t any solid youth indicators that donors are using across the board and USAID doesn’t require age disaggregated data so it’s difficult to track where USAID’s programs are. However in preparation for this meeting, USAID looked at youth and DRG (Democracy, Human Rights and Governance) programming and mapped out what is available.

Challenges to Mapping Youth Programs

To map the programs, USAID compiled information from missions who volunteered information when asked if they wanted to report what they’re doing with youth. Since these are primarily mission programs, it does not capture global programs.

Rule of Law Programs That Were Reported Include

  • Juvenile Justice: Honduras and South Sudan
  • Legal Clinics/Law Education: Belarus and Ukraine
  • Crime Prevention: Central American Region
  • Civic Education: Organizations are doing it, but there’s a question of how to capture this information

Examples of Countries Working On Laws for Youth

  • Serbia: Campaign to change the law on youth organizing
  • Bosnia: Campaign around the adoption of a federal law on youth

Charles-Guy Makongo, Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo, ABA Rule of Law Initiative

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guy explained that over 60% of the population is under 20 and emphasized that it was essential for programs in the DRC to address the role of youth. Guy elaborated on current programs ABA ROLI is implementing which include projects for: young lawyers and paralegals, young people to engage in media campaigns, street law activities for students starting in primary school all the way up to university, legal scholarships, theater, and internship programs.

At the end, Guy summed up the importance of youth based on his experience and stressed “by investing in child[ren], [we] can prepare for [a] better situation tomorrow.”

Mattias K. A. Lundberg, Senior Economist and Youth Focal Point, Human Development Network, World Bank

Mattias provided a number of statistics on the youth population, talked about how youth attitudes towards law and violence are formed, and argued that the youth bulge may be a good thing. Read a few excerpts below:

Growth of the Global Youth Population

The Census Bureau indicates that by 2025, there will be more young people (15-24) in Sub-Saharan Africa than any other region. Between now and then, that population will increase by 45% in that region. Major growth in the number of young people is happening in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Currently much of our money and attention is on MENA and while the youth population will increase there, the number of young people will not be nearly as large as other regions in the world.

Attitudes Towards Violence

The World Value Survey taken from 80 countries looked at how young people view violence. It found that being married, employed or religious made one less likely to commit violence. However those with a higher level of education were less likely to trust public institutions. The survey also indicated that as populations age, they are less likely to agree that violence is acceptable.

Favorite Rule of Law Program for Youth

Credit: Supreme Court of the Philippines

Credit: Supreme Court of the Philippines

A project in Philippines called Justice on Wheels. The program is a mobile court that increases access to justice for young people.

Youth Bulge

There aren’t many studies on people who commit violent acts since most of the reports are on victims. Youth bulges may be a risk for a number of reasons including the lack of opportunities for young people, unresponsive institutions,  lack of access, property rights, etc.  But…it’s hard to find a case where there’s been growth and innovation in a sustainable way without there being a youth bulge. Youth bulges are necessary and good.

Question & Answer Session

The Question and Answer session at the end of the event also addressed issues such as:

  • The difficulty in balancing youth programs, which take longer to implement, with the emphasis on getting deliverables in a short time
  • The use of teaching tools on non-violence for middle and high school students who are genocide survivors
  • How to incorporate gender mainstreaming into youth programs

To hear more on what panelists had to say about youth and rule of law programs, click here.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2013 by in Event Recap and tagged , , , .

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