Rethinking Youth Political Activism in the MENA Region - Regional Programme Political Dialogue and regional Integration in the Southern Mediterranean
The Regional Programme Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS PolDiMed) organized the third training of the MENA Leadership Academy (MENA LA) – Generation 4 in Rabat, Morocco, from 15th to 19th of March 2023. Since the South Mediterranean region displays significant differences in terms of political systems, institutions, and forms of civic engagement, KAS PoldiMed aims to strengthen young actors’ participation in civil society and politics in the region. This is all the more important given youth’s declining trust in both state institutions and political parties across the region. The training, therefore, specifically focused on increasing the participants’ knowledge of public policy and democratic principles, and at honing their skills in debate and policy formulation.
The first training, which took place in Tunis, Tunisia, in June 2022, focused on social and political participation and the foundations of democratic systems. The following training was hosted in Istanbul, Turkey, in November 2022, and concentrated on issues such as decentralization, local governance, federalism, accountability, and representation. Building on this previously acquired knowledge, the third training dove deeper into the essentials, process, tools, and analysis of public policy and how to write effective reports (policy memo & policy brief) – all revolving around the participation of youth, their prospects, engagement, and activism in the region. Moreover, the participants learnt how to be more persuasive using the techniques of argumentation, rebuttal, refutation, and research methodologies. Furthermore, the third training was also an opportunity to discuss the rise of authoritarian tendencies and populism in the region and how to ensure resiliency in the face of these challenges to democracy.
Our invited experts provided insights and data concerning these topics that resulted in lively discussions and workshops. Among the speakers, whose extensive experience and expertise enriched the training, were Ismail Ilsouk, Director of the association of SIMSIM Participation Citoyenne, Dr. Rokia Achmal, Professor of Public Law, Dr. Mohamed El Hachimi, Professor of Political Science, and Intissar Fakir, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on North Africa and the Sahel, Middle East Institute and co-author of KAS PolDiMed’s recently published study entitled ‘Politics Without Parties? New Forms of Participation in the Southern Mediterranean Region’.
The program agenda included several field visits to different institutions, such as the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA), the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS), and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO). These excursions provided opportunities for engaging discussions and interesting insights from experts involved in the field. On the last day, the event was completed by an intensive training on debate and policy writing, provided by Mohamed Adel Eraky, International Trainer on debate and public policy.
MENA LA is a two-year capacity-building program held under the motto of ‘Rethinking Youth Political Activism in the MENA Region’. The participants, who are students and young professionals, are actively engaged in their communities, for instance in political parties or Civil Society Organizations. Participants are between 20 and 30 years of age and were selected from Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, following an online call for applications.
KAS PolDiMed remains committed to strengthen the political dialogue and societal and economic integration in the Mediterranean region by developing the capacity of youth to participate more in Civil Society Organizations and political parties, an untapped potential in a region where youth represent 60% of the population.