ARI 10th Anniversary Conference Report

Arab Reform Initiative - ARI 10th Anniversary Conference Report
The Young Ones: From Dreamers to Actors

As part of its 10-year anniversary event, ARI organized an international conference about new forms of youth engagement in Tunis on 01 November 2015. Titled “The Young Ones: From Dreamers to Actors,” this event, consisting of two panel discussions with academics and youth actors from across the Arab world, explored new analytical concepts of youth and provided the opportunity to collectively reflect upon the transformation of youth participation and its potential role in political reform with academics and youth actors themselves.

Among the key points addressed: 

  • “Youth” should be viewed less as a demographic category than as an analytical concept. Youth signifies social action of non-partisanship, purposeful citizenship, and engagement in societal change.
  • Youth political practice involves a broader scope of action aimed at transforming governance and civil-political relations, underpinned by values of non-violence, solidarity, and diffuse power, taking place in seemingly apolitical and non-institutionalised spheres.
  • Youth engagement and participation can be promoted through modes of action that are inclusive and detached from traditional contests for power, such as civil society and social entrepreneurship.
  • Youth as new actors are in an iterative learning and adaptation process. This includes organisational and political learning, which is reflected in new waves and modes of engagement.
  • Radical change takes time. Youth have already made an impact, and although the current political frameworks are difficult, they continue their efforts and are laying the foundations for future dialogue and mobilisation.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.