By Sports Reporter/ Rabat, Morroco
Recognising the role of youth in mobilising action to prevent violent extremism (PVE) through sport-based activities, the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) convened young civil society leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) in an intergenerational dialogue with key stakeholders.
The event was organised within the framework of the Global Programme on the Security of Major Sporting Events and the Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Programme”), which is led by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), in partnership with UNAOC, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).
Sports have historically played a significant role in the promotion of peace and development by fostering positive values across societies. Additionally, young people continue to affirm their leadership as key drivers of sustainable peace in identifying and addressing the triggers of violent extremism through their innovation and diversity in their actions and rationale.
In fact, the United Nations acknowledges the impact of young people through UNSCR 2535 (2020), among other noteworthy resolutions, by calling upon Member States to improve the capacity-building and inclusion of youth in key peace processes.
In this context, UNAOC provided a platform for young leaders from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Qatar to lend their voices to conversations on PVE policymaking, grassroots S4D as well as the role of athletes and sporting events in promoting inclusive and diverse societies. The intergenerational dialogue underscored the power of sport to promote increased youth participation in national and regional PVE strategies and reaffirmed the role of youth in fostering sustainable peace and development in the Mena region. As a culminating activity, the participants engaged in interactive discussions with regional decision-makers and policy specialists during a high-level event.
Over 35 people from Rabat-based civil society organisations, UN entities, and government officials attended the event. Regional experts who engaged with the young participants include Ramata Almamy Mbaye, Director of Social and Human Sciences Sector of ICESCO; Fatima-Ezzahrae El Kbiri, Partnership Specialist of the Union for the Mediterranean; Hamza El Hajoui, Vice-President of the Moroccan Royal Football Federation and the President of FUS; Alioune Ndiaye, Head of Peace and Citizenship Division of ICESCO; Diogo Guia, Director, Sports Public Policy and Chief Operating Officer of ICSS; Yassine Bellarab, Chargé de Mission of the General Secretariat of Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas; and Dr Karim Hendili, Director of the Unesco cluster office for Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia, among others.
Representatives from Global Programme partners, including UNOCT, UNAOC, UNICRI, and ICSS were present as well.
Youth leaders who participated in the discussion include: Abdulla Almuqahwi (Bahrain), Ayoub Ait Atman (Morocco), Christian Saleh Hajj (Lebanon), Ikbel Rhimi (Tunisia), Khola Abdalla (Libya), Mohamed Ahmed Taha Radwan (Egypt), Mohamed al-Qassabi (Qatar), Mohamed Sadiq (Iraq), Mohamed Tarek Morsy (Egypt), Oussama Rachidi (Morocco), Saeed Khowaja Taha Hajani (Iraq), Salma Elmettichi (Morocco), Soufiane Zarraa (Tunisia), and Vera al-Mawla (Lebanon).
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