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A Brief Report on the Kingdom’s Experience in Supporting and Developing the Youth

13 October 2016

The Kingdom of Bahrain witnessed a qualitative leap in the political life in the Kingdom since launching the reform project of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, by means of a referendum on the National Action Charter on February 14, 2001. The Charter has become an important preface toward promoting democracy and the role of youth in society, by engaging the building the building process of State according to modern frameworks that are commensurate with youth aspirations, and by virtue of reiterating all societal segments engagement in the sciences of building.

An opportunity was availed for the youth to participate in developing an important political document by voting on the popular National Action Charter which received the endorsement of 98.4%. As such, the Charter has become an integral important part of the democratic process observed by the Kingdom of Bahrain, whereby the youth would play a significant part in fulfilling the future of aspirations, in light of the ongoing and continual reforms process observed by the Kingdom. The government, moreover, was keen to create new opportunities for the youth toward additional positive participation in society, by launching the National Youth Strategy (2011-2015) through developing a national youth strategy in 2003.

At the directives of the wise leadership, the Council of Representatives in the Kingdom of Bahrain engaged the youth in the National Reconciliation Dialogue 2011, being convinced of the importance of addressing youth needs and listening to their viewpoints to instill their role in society, and to promote the future of Bahrain.

First – Role of the Legislative Authority in the Kingdom of Bahrain to Support the Youth:

The legislative authority in the Kingdom of Bahrain gave special attention and focused on the youth, by enacting laws and legislations that are specific to this important segment of society, due to their effective and active role in advancing the requirements of society. Enacting the aforementioned, the Youth and Sports Committee at the Council of Representatives discussed a number of proposals submitted by its members; include (4) law proposals, namely: Issuing the Societies, Social and Cultural Clubs Law; Establishing the youth parliament; Endorsing the National Youth Strategy; and Establishing the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport.

With regard to proposals that amounted to (49); they were discussed by the Council, and focused mainly on allocating additional annual funds to youth clubs and centers, developing sports at schools, develop the skills of physical education teachers, establish sport centers for youth, care for young talents, establish sport space channels dedicated solely to the youth. The Shura Council also recommended approving establishment of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee recommendation to establish a Standing Select Committee entitled the Youth Affairs Committee, in March 12, 2012 of the Second Ordinary Session of the Third Legislative Term.

Second: Key legislations and laws issued in the Kingdom of Bahrain to support the youth:

  1. Amending certain provisions of the Decree Law No (14) for 2002 on Assuming Political rights that is amended by Decree Law No. (35) for 2002 on reducing the qualifying age for election from 21 years old by a full year to 20 years of age on the date of balloting or voting.
  2. A draft law to ratify the International Anti-Doping Agreement that was approved by the General Conference of the UNESCO held in Paris on October 19, 2005 in its 33rd Session, being attached to Royal Decree No. (83) for 2007, and the letter of HRH the Prime Minister No. DRM/33/1378 dated 29/8/2007.
  3. Law No. (42) for 2009 to amend certain provisions of the Social and Cultural Societies, Clubs and Private Bodies in the field of Youth and Sports and Private Institutions promulgated by Decree Law No. (21) for 1989.
  4. Decree Law No. (33) for 2010 to amend certain provisions of Decree Law No. (5) for 1983, to amend the Amiri Decree No. (2) for 1975 to incept the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport.

Third – Governmental Efforts to Support the Youth

The Kingdom of Bahrain commenced developing a national youth strategy for te in December 2003, by virtue of an initiative of the General Council for Youth and Sports in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UNDP by launching the National Youth Strategy 2011-2015.

This strategy focuses on capacity building of all national institutions and the support of fundamental youth issues such as education, health, labor, culture, information technology, sports, promotion, participation and human rights. Some of the key objectives of the National Youth Strategy are:

  • Raise the awareness, respect and effective commitment of Bahraini youth to values and principles called for by Islam, and the recitals contained in the documents of positivism such as the national action charter and constitution, provided such an issue stems from a deep feeling of national belonging and identity.
  • Create a deeper understanding on part of the Bahraini society of the youth requirements, interest, issues, viewpoints, ideas, capabilities, ambitions; and to determine the basic aspects of youth policies and action plan.
  • Focus on youth contributions, and bring out the points of strengths enjoyed by youth.
  • Promote and instigate activities and undertakings that assist in developing the participation and active leadership of youth in public life.
  • Establish a comprehensive and coordinated procedural framework to address the availed opportunities to youth, and the challenges they encounter in Bahrain.
  • Promote new ideas, visions and innovative options to tackle issues encountered by the youth in Bahrain, through new and effective mechanisms that pave the way to create cooperation and coordination amongst all competent stakeholders; including governmental institutions, civil society organizations, the private sector and the youth.

Fourth – Recommendations

The Kingdom of Bahrain pins great attention on the youth, based on the fact that they are a primary tributary to the reform project spearheaded by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, since he assumed constitutional powers in 1999. Youth are an important societal segment that is driven by enthusiasm, vitality and a rejuvenated ability to produce; an issue that is irreplaceable in every stage of the development process being observed in the Kingdom. The following are some of the main recommendations to promote this important segment at the different legislative, social, economic, educational, sports and media levels:

At the parliamentary level:

  • Call on all parliaments to encourage the participation of youth in the political process;
  • Draft laws that empower youth groupings politically and culturally;
  • Focus on the importance of educating youth with their rights and commitments to societies;
  • Draft laws aimed to care and habilitate persons with special needs that correspond to the health requirements of youth (both sexes) who suffer from physical and mental disabilities, to ensure their inclusion in society to promote their self-dependence.
  • Draft legislations pertinent to organizing conferences, meetings, seminars and workshops that simplify and ease the understanding of ruling regimes in the world, methods of drafting legislations, and the importance of law abiding in society.

At the governmental level

  • Develop advanced school and university syllabuses that entail teaching the youth the principles and values of democracy, and human rights;
  • Promote the concept of good citizenship in school syllabuses that are in line with the definitions and values of compassion and peace in all religions, which in turn shall protect the youth from falling victim to the cycles of violence and terrorism;
  • Create job opportunities for the youth, and limit unemployment by virtue of private and public programs; and through social development programs and training; and thus underline that youth engagement in voluntary work and social responsibility schemes, will protect them from deviations, and stresses their role in building an advanced society;
  • Highlight youth efforts and creativity in all fields, and observe their achievements with appreciation, in addition to granting incentives and sponsoring to their endeavors;
  • Work toward drafting a media policy to encourage the youth to achieve their aspirations within a societal framework that promotes the culture of patriotism and belonging, by means of discussing their constructive ideas in this context;
  • Intensify themed media specialized programs to address the youth and promote youth sectors; in addition to raise youth awareness with the importance of contributing their services to the homeland politically, economically, socially, culturally, intellectually and in sports.

At the level of Youth Organizations of Civil Society

  • Call to hold interactive youth conferences that are patronized by specialists at youth centers, to underline the significance of dialogue and accepting others, and the opinion of others; and underline the importance of the same in creating youth leaderships capable of fulfilling the concepts of coexisting and serving societal interests.
  • Promote the principle of partnership amongst all stakeholders, by increasing coordination and partnership amongst the competent authorities in both the public and private sector.
  • Establish model youth centers that consist of the required and necessary facilities for the youth.
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