Monthly Archives: October 2015

U.S. Government Influence on Global Uprisings

British journalist and historian Frances Stonor Saunders charged in Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Lectures that the CIA funded the non-communist left since the late 1960 through pass-through organizations. She mentioned the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Institute of Peace, the Ford Foundation, The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, CANVAS (Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies in Serbia) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Professor Noam Chomsky described NED (in reference to Nicaragua) as “an attempt to impose what is called democracy, meaning rule by the rich and the powerful. Without interference by the mob but within the framework of formal electoral procedures.”[i]

A New York Times article echoed the list of democracy groups funded by the government: International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and individuals such as Entsar Qadhi, a Yemeni young woman activist.[ii] The State Department’s staffer Michael Posner stated in 2011 that the government spent $50 million in the previous two years on new technologies for activists; training sessions were held for 5,000 activists around the world, including Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.[iii] Poser added, “They went back [home], and there’s a ripple effect,” in the Arab Spring.

Some blame a global group of wealthy bankers for current inequality. President Franklin Roosevelt wrote in 1933, “A financial element in the larger [financial] centers has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson.” He told bankers, “You are a den of vipers. If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning.”[iv] President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the power of the military-industrial complex in 1961. The same year John F. Kennedy stated, “We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy, that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence.” [v] President George W. Bush led a covert democratization movement in MENA spelled out in a 2003 speech to NED. He said, “The United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.”[vi] Undersecretary of State James Glassman reported in 2008, “Mainly behind the scenes, we help build networks and movements–put tools in the hands of young people to make their own choices, rather than dictating those choices.”[vii] Secretary of State Hillary stated in a 2010 speech that, “I’m proud that the State Department is already working in more than 40 countries to help individuals silenced by oppressive governments,” with emphasis on MENA, Asia and the Pacific.[viii] A recent target is to oust the socialist government of Venezuela.

WikiLeaks diplomatic cables revealed that Middle Eastern leaders vehemently protested the work of these foreign groups to destabilize their governments, especially Mubarak and his son Gamel in Egypt. For example, a 2006 cable from an official in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested to American Embassy officials about the US government’s “arrogant tactics in promoting reform in Egypt.”[ix] The New York Times article quoted Stephen McInerney, director of the research group Project on Middle East Democracy, commenting on the Arab Spring: “We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking. That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.” Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, author of a free ebook 21st Century Revolution[x] traced CIA involvement in the Arab Spring, citing evidence in L’Arabesque Americaine by Canadian Ahmed Bensaada (2011).[xi]

Bensaada maintains that the CIA, US State Department and Pentagon backed many of the youth uprisings by funding democracy organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy, National Democratic institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House, the Albert Einstein Institution, CANVAS, USAID, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. These groups developed new technologies such as the Tor Project that gets around Internet censorship. They were involved in the color revolutions in Eastern Europe, attempts to destabilize Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Iran, and in the Arab Spring by supporting Google employee Gael Ghonim with paid leave, discussed in Chapter 10.

An Egyptian court, not known for their fairness, recently referred to the January 25 revolution as part of a regional “American-Hebrew plot” designed to destabilize the region in support of Israel.[xii] Washington Times reporter Charles Hanley maintained, “the USAID grants, from an $800 million budget for developing ‘political competition’ and ‘civil society’ in 67 nations, have proved vital to activists in a half-dozen Arab lands, from Morocco to Yemen.”[xiii] Young activists were trained to use social networking to promote democracy. Hanley reported that since 2005 an estimated 10,000 Egyptians participated in USAID programs sponsored by 30 Egyptian and international organizations.

The US State Department realized that the youth bulge in the Middle East and other regions required a cyberdissident (CDD) strategy to “combat the enemy” by empowering youth and “benefiting business,” to use State Department employee Jared Cohen’s terms.[xiv] He led the creation of the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) described in Linda Herrera’s Revolution in the Age of Social Media. It held its first international youth conference with representatives of 15 countries in 2008 at Columbia University Law School. Livestreamed on MTV, AYM aimed to “launch a global network that seeks to empower young people to mobilize against violence and oppression.” AYM speakers represented the US State Department in partnership with US corporations marketing youth lifestyles: the Hoover Institute, Freedom House, AT&T, Google, Facebook, Howcast, Pepsi Cola, etc. AYM pointed to the Serbian group Otpor as its model for activism, also funded by the US government, discussed in Chapter 7. Another summit took place in London in 2010.

AYM promoted Gene Sharp’s manual From Dictatorship to Democracy along with instructional videos and the AYM handbook Grassroots Movements for Social Change.[xv] The manual gives examples of movements considered successful by AYM: Oscar Morales’ campaign against FARC in Columbia, the Turkish group The Young Civilians, a Facebook campaign called “Support the Monks’ Protest in Burma,” One Million People Against Crime in South Africa, Fight Back in India, Youth for Tolerance in Lebanon, Iluminemos in Mexico, No Mas Chavez in Venezuela, Raices de Esperanza in Cuba, and Saudi Women Petitioning the Government for Driving Rights. The manual refers to numerous Howcast action videos such as “How to Smart Mob” that features a Middle Eastern-appearing actor in a bright blue shirt.[xvi] AYM participants learned to use social media including Facebook (over a billion users) and Twitter (by 2015 it had about 284 million monthly users). Cohen left the State Department in 2010 and founded Movements.org as an extension of AYM.[xvii] In 2012, Movements.org became a division of Advancing Human Rights. The movements.org website explains its purpose is “opening closed societies.” Similar websites such as Cyberdissidents.org were funded by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

WikiLeaks showed that the Serbian group CANVAS worked for Stratfor, an intelligence gathering company in Texas, to destabilize Venezuela. Professor Julia Buxton reported that US interests that oppose socialism decided to use Venezuelan students as their tool, focusing on students in private universities as the leaders of “democracy promotion.”[xviii] She stated that a large percentage of the $45 million annual funding to opposition groups went to youth outreach programs such as Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (JAVU) mobilized after 2010. In Venezuela, three US officials were accused of organizing students to protest and were exiled from the country in 2014. The US budgeted $5 million in its 2014 budget to fund the opposition.[xix] The CIA was accused of backing an attempted coup against Venezuelan socialist President Francisco Madero in 2015.

Canadian professor Michel Chossudovsky and others charge that reactionary US government forces instigated the recent uprisings in Ukraine, creating causalities to mobilize media and public opinion.[xx] The US spent over $5 billion since Ukranian independence in 1991 to “help” pro-western parties, according to US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.[xxi] Similar charges are made in regards to the Libyan overthrow of Gaddafi.[xxii]

Gene Sharp’s advice about how to use non-violent tactics is widely used to train activists globally. His Albert Einstein Institute is housed in Sharp’s Boston home, with a small annual budget, and only one assistant–evidence given by those who dismiss changes that the institute works for the CIA in an ongoing debate about his funding sources.[xxiii] His board of directors has links to the US military or pass-through foundations and he has received funding from CIA-linked foundations such as NED, IRI and the US Institute of Peace, and the Defense Department, according to Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall.[xxiv] Others disagree and state the Institute’s consulting policy prohibits them from political action and efforts to discredit Sharp are dishonest.[xxv] The Albert Einstein Institute states on the website, “From Dictatorship to Democracy was first published in Burma in 1993. It has since been translated into at least 34 other languages and was used by the campaigns of Serbia’s Otpor, Georgia’s Kmara, Ukraine’s Pora, Kyrgyzstan’s KelKel and Belarus’ Zubr.” Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments also used his writings during the breakup of the USSR. Lithuanian Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius is quoted on the website; “I would rather have this book [Civilian Based Defense] than the nuclear bomb.”

This raises the question of how much recent youth contentious action is funded by the US government to shape governments, encourage business development, and to “win the war of ideas,” as Undersecretary of State James Glassman said in 2008. He reported, “Mainly behind the scenes, we help build networks and movements–put tools in the hands of young people to make their own choices, rather than dictating those choices.” US State Department officials seems proud of their undercover work to influence other countries, although they would probably be outraged if a foreign country aimed to manipulate US young people.

The US State Department “democracy assistance” initiative funded Egyptian opposition to Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and other Islamists, according to Emad Mekay, former reporter for the New York Times and founder of the America in Arabic News Agency.[xxvi] The US government spent hundreds of millions via the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the Middle East Partnership Initiative (it spent close to $900 million on democracy projects), USAID (spends about $1.4 billion a year in the Middle East, with nearly $390 million for democracy) and the National Endowment for Democracy. The latter was the main spender in Egypt, providing grants as for Esraa Abdel-Fatah’s NGO called the Egyptian Democratic Academy. Estimates are the government spent about $65 million in 2011 and $25 million in 2012 on democracy efforts.

[i] Tony Cartalucci, “NED & Freedom House are Run by Warmongering Imperialists,” Land Destroyer Report, May 15, 2013.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/11/ned-freedom-house-are-run-by.html

[ii] Ron Nixon, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” New York Times, April 14, 2011.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[iii] Tony Cartalucci, “US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007,” Land Destroyer Report, September 4, 2013.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2013/09/us-planned-syrian-civilian-catastrophe.html

[iv] Professor Mujahid Kamran, “Who Really Controls the World?”, Sikh Philosophy, April 26, 2015.

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/threads/who-really-controls-the-world.37881/

[v] http://www.thepowerhour.com/news3/jfk_speech_transcript.htm

[vi] “President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East,” November 6, 2003.

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/11/20031106-2.html

[vii] James Glassman speech, “Winning the War of Ideas,” Islamic Research Foundation International, July 8, 2008.

http://irfi.org/articles2/articles_3601_3650/winning%20the%20war%20of%20ideashtml.htm

[viii] “Clinton’s Speech on Internet Freedom,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 21, 2010.

http://www.cfr.org/internet-policy/clintons-speech-internet-freedom-january-2010/p21253

[ix] Ron Nixon, “U.S. Groups Helped nurture Arab Uprisings,” New York Times, April 14, 2011.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[x] Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “Why the CIA Funds Nonviolence Training,” Dissent Voice, March 13, 2012.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/03/why-the-cia-funds-nonviolence-training/

http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/21st-century-revolution-free-ebook/

[xi] Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “The CIA Role in the Arab Spring,” blog, January 18, 2014.

http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/2014/01/18/the-cia-role-in-the-arab-spring/

[xii] Hamza Hendawi, “Egypt’s Top Prosecutor to Appeal Mubarak Verdict,” Associated Press, December 2, 2014.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/egypts-top-prosecutor-appeal-mubarak-verdict-27301043

[xiii] Charles Hanley, “US Training Quietly Nurtured Young Arab Democrats,” The Washington Post, March 13, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/12/AR2011031202234.html

[xiv] Marilyn Vogt-Downey, “Egypt: Revoltuion versus the Counterrevoluiton in the Age of Social Media,” CounterPunch, December 3, 2014.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/03/egypt-revolution-versus-the-counterrevolution-in-the-age-of-social-media/

[xv] Grassroots Movements for Change: A Field Manual, Alliance of Youth Movements Summit, 2008.

http://www.rogersparkywat.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/aoym-fieldmanual_12.11.08.pdf

[xvi] http://metro.co.uk/2010/02/08/oscar-morales-how-i-used-facebook-to-protest-against-farc-85760/

http://www.howcast.com/videos/88587-how-to-smart-mob/

www.gencsiviller.net

www.burma-network.com

www.facebook.comgroup.php?gid=6340297802

www.fight-back.netIluminemosmexico.org.mx

[xvii] https://www.movements.org/en/movements/about-movements/success-stories/

[xviii] Julia Buxton, “Venezuela: The Real Significance of the Student Protests,” Latin American Bureau, February 20, 2014.

ab.org.uk/venezuela-–-student-protests

[xix] Mark Weisbrot, “US Support for Regime Change in Venezuela is a Mistake,” The Guardian, February 18, 2014.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/venezuela-protests-us-support-regime-change-mistake

[xx] Michel Choussudovsky, “Syria, The War Started Four Years Ago in March 2011,” Global Research, March 15, 2015.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-who-is-behind-the-protest-movement-fabricating-a-pretext-for-a-us-nato-humanitarian-intervention/24591

[xxi] Video on “Regime Change in Kiev,” February 9, 2014. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm

[xxii] Margaret Kimberley, “Media Silence on Libya,” TruthOut, March 14, 2015.

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29588-media-silence-on-libya

[xxiii] Stephen Zunes, “Attacks on Gene Sharp and Albert Einstein Institute Unwarranted,” Huff Post Politics, February 21, 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/attacks-on-gene-sharp-and_b_109526.html

[xxiv] Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “Why the CIA Funds Nonviolence Training,” Dissent Voice, March 13, 2012.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/03/why-the-cia-funds-nonviolence-training/

http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/21st-century-revolution-free-ebook/

[xxv] Stephen Zunes, “Leading Nonviolent Strategist, Gene Sharp and the CIA,” Popular Resistance, 2008 article re-posted on March 1, 2014.

https://www.popularresistance.org/leading-nonviolent-strategist-gene-sharp-the-cia/

[xxvi] Emad Mekay, “US Bankrolled Anti-Morsi Activists,” Al Jazeera, July 10, 2013.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/07/2013710113522489801.html

Studies of Global Youth Activism are Rare

Many large global studies of youth are conducted for marketing research (i.e., Don Tapscott surveyed youth from 12 countries but most of his references to the Digital Generation are North Americans, mainly his children), Habbo and InSites Consulting virtual world surveys, Martin Lindstrom’s BRANDchild, and Elissa Moses). The lead researcher of a global marketing survey of kids aged six to 12 replied to my question, “The survey was an online study, which means that respondents in all of the countries have sufficient income to have a computer/mobile device and internet service. Also, our research vendor screened out the lowest incomes, because the consumer group we are interested in marketing to is not at poverty level.” In contrast, this book includes slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, rural youth in China, India and Tanzania, etc.

Surveys are also conducted by non-government agencies like UNICEF or Fondation Pour L’Innovation Politique whose findings are not available in books. Many of these global youth surveys are about tobacco use or other health issues.

The Journal of International Women’s Studies (free online articles) and the Women’s Studies International Forum publish articles, without much coverage of youth. Youth Studies are published in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence since in 1972, followed by Youth Studies in 1998, the Journal of Youth Studies in 2000, Youth Voice Journal about international issues since 2010, and others.[i] Youth Studies Australia ceased publication in 2013 but back issues are available. Universities like the University of Minnesota offer a major in Youth Studies, but “youth-centered definitions of their lives remain largely absent. Young people have not been enfranchised by the research conducted on their lives.”[ii] Youth studies have analyzed developmental stages in the transition to adulthood, with the more recent concept of “emerging adulthood,” as young people delay marriage and careers.

An online journal called Interface: A Journal For and About Social Movements aims for movement relevant knowledge. An online magazine ROAR provides current information but not specifically about youth. The online journal Interface: A Journal For and About Social Movements is one of the few scholarly journals to discuss the recent uprisings. The three British editors began publishing the journal in 2009; two are academics. An exception is Social Movement Studies published an issue on Occupy in 2012.[iii] Looking at all the issues from 2011 on, only one included youth in the title, but it focused on organization rather than young people—“’Young People Took to the Streets and All of the Political Parties Got Old’: the 15 M Movement in Spain” (2011). Other social movement publications are Mobilization since 1996 and its blog Mobilizing Ideas.[iv] Current Sociology published an issue on “From Indignation to Occupation” in 2013 reporting on the 2011 uprisings but without focus on youth.[v]

A scan of the Journal of Youth Studies from 2011 found only 26 titles on youth activism or political attitudes out of 224 articles and 10 of the titles were about youth attitudes towards traditional politics.[vi] Surprisingly, not one article was about the uprisings of 2011 to 2014 discussed in this book. A similar search of the Journal of Adolescence found only one issue on political engagement but not rebellions (June 2012), with no other such articles in other issues.[vii]

Much of the generational research is done in the US and the UK. Psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett points out that the study of adolescence began in the US early in the 20th century and the study of US adolescents still dominates the field.[viii] He reports that most of the scholarly journals devoted to the age group 10 to 25 are mostly from the US with an occasional European researcher. The Journal of Youth Studies includes studies from Canada, Australia, Germany and Sweden, as well as the US and the UK.

Other books describe the characteristics of American youth—many of the books about Generation Y are how to manage them in the US workforce, so this book focuses on other countries where most young people live. However, Most of the academic books on global youth are anthologies of specialized ethnographies about small groups of young people in various regions without much connection between chapters. For example one such book includes chapters on Thai makeup saleswomen, former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Latino use of political graphic art, a Sri Lankan refugee, etc.

Searching through 15 pages of Amazon.com books listed under “global youth,” I found anthologies, youth ministry, how to market to youth, deviant behavior, by country (such as youth in China), or unemployment, but no overviews of global youth activism. The only books specifically about youth and the Arab Spring are Maytha Alhassen and Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, editors, Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions, 2012; Alcinda Honwana, Youth and Revolution in Tunisia, 2013; Juan Cole, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (2014), and Ahmed Tohamy Abdelhay, Youth Activism in Egypt: Islamism, Political Protest and Revolution, 2015 ($104).

An anonymous academic who reviewed this book attempted to list books about global youth activism, but all were written before the recent uprisings or don’t include them (I added the dates), nor do any of them feature the role of young people.

There are several other books out right now that address the issue of youth and contemporary activism. Marina Sitirin’s Everyday Revolutions [2012, about Argentina only, while her 2014 book with Dario Azzellini, They Can’t Represent Us expands to look at the development of democracy in various countries, with a focus on process but not youth, similar to Maeckelberg] is one, as is Marianne Maeckelberg’s The Will of the Man [2009, about the alterglobailzation movement. She explains, In contrast to previous social movements, the alterglobalisation movement’s forms of organization is its ideology.] Both also address the rise of horizontalist politics. Jeffrey Juris has written about youth activism, technology, horizontalism, in the context of the alter-globalization movement and Occupy. [Juris co-edited Insurgent Encounters, 2013, an ethnography anthology about the global justice movement and World Social Forum. Youth are mentioned in less than 10 pages.] David Graeber’s Direct Action [2009], about the global justice movement] also involves some fairly sustained consideration of the links between direct democracy, new radical politics, history, and youth culture [outdated].

 

 

Five books published from 2012 to 2014 cover the global uprisings but not with analysis of the role of young people: Paul Mason, Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions; an anthology by Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen, From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices From the Global Spring including activists in their 20s and 30s; and an Internet ebook by Werner Puschra and Sara Burke, eds., The Future We the People Need: Voices from New Social Movements, also about various ages of activists. They wrote another pertinent book available online, World Protests 2006-2013. The 2014 books are They Can’t Represent us! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy by Marina Sitrin; Dario Azzellini and Cristina Flesher Fominaya’s Social Movements and Globalization: How Protests, Occupations and Uprisings are Changing the World; and Occupy! A Global Movement (2014), a $150 anthology edited by Jenny Pickerill, et al. In Youth Rising? (2015) Mayssoun Sukarieh and Stuart Tannock do focus on the portrayal of youth in global uprisings, but acknowledge that they too do not include their actual voices. Their thesis is that although youth played a vital part as activists, their role is exaggerated in order to benefit the interests of neoliberal elites who don’t want consideration of the structural problems in the existing capitalist system.

Two books interviewed urban youth activists in the Americas before the global uprisings: Jessica Taft, Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas, 2010, and Maria De Los Angeles Torres, Irrene Rizzini, and Norma Del Rio, Citizens in the Present: Youth Civic Engagement in the Americas, 2013. Taft reported in Rebel Girls that, “Despite their activism, girls are rarely considered and written about as significant political actors. They appear but do not speak.” They’re left out of academic research on girls’ studies and on youth movements. Taft says that the focus is on college students rather than teenagers. To be more accurate, researchers must change the common practice of ignoring youth or presuming to speak for them without including their voices.

[i] Geraldine Pratt and Victoria Rosner, eds. The Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time. Columbia University Press, 2012, p. 3.

[ii] Ibid, p. 21. http://www.youthpolicy.org/research/journals/

A list of journals about youth is available online, compiled by the Canadian Association for Research in Cultures of Young People and Youth Policy

http://arcyp.ca/archives/2421

http://www.youthpolicy.org/research/journals/

[iii] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14742837.2012.708923#.Uy-lSq1dV8k

[iv] http://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/category/essay-dialogues/

[v] DOI:10.1177/0011392113479748

http://csi.sagepub.com/content/61/4/491.short

[vi] http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjys20?open=16&repitition=0#vol_16

Following are the topics and date posted online: Greek youth’s protests in 2008 (January 2011), theories of youth resistance (June 2012), Canadian youth activism for people with disabilities (June 2012), a student occupation of their university in 2010 (November 2012), University of Ottawa students’ political engagement (June 2012), youth involvement in politics in Scotland (June 2012), how to involve young Canadian women in provincial public police development (August 2012), Peruvian youth activism for sexual health (November 2012), Spanish youths’ attitudes towards politics—based on interviews (November 2012), British youth’s political participation (September 2013), Australian girls’ attitudes towards women leaders (January 2013), youth protests in Africa (march 2013), Australian teens political interests (May 2013), young men’s political participation in an English town (September 2013), influences on British youth’s political participation (September 2013), theories of youth agency (September 2013).

Alcina Honwana. Youth and Revolution in Tunisa. Zed Books, 2013.

Ahmed Tohamy Abdelhay. Youth Activism in Egypt: Islamism, Political Protest and Revolution. Library of Modern Middle East Studies, 2014. ($104)

Linda Herrera, editor. Wired Citizenship: Youth Learning and Activism in the Middle East. Routledge, 2014

Jessica Taft. Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas. New York University Press, 2011.

Maria de los Angeles Torres, Irene Rizzini and Norma Del Rio. Citizens in the Present: Youth Civic Engagement in the Americas. University of Illinois, 2013.

[vii] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01401971/35/3

[viii] Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, ed. Adolescent Psychology Around the World. Psychology Press, 2012, p. IX.

United Nations Youth Leadership Programs

United Nations Includes Youth

While academics neglected youth as positive changemakers, the United Nations is more proactive, although youth activists I’ve interviewed don’t seem to appreciate UN youth programs. Although the UN facilitates youth activism and representation in its deliberations, Yara (17) reported about young Egyptian activists attitudes towards the UN; “Most are not even commenting about it, because they either see it as too late or completely useless, to be honest.” From Brazil, activist Khaled emailed about the UN,

 

In Brazil we don’t usually make positive statements about the UN. Although it is an international organization, I believe that their powers are very limited, because when their decisions go against the interests of the rich countries, these countries ignore these decisions, as the USA has done lately in relation to decisions of the Security Council for example. Anyway, the UN is a closed and hostile space to popular participation as are all the governments.

 

In some countries youth learn about UN policies and global issues in school. Roohi, a 16-year-old girl, reports,

 

Here in Singapore, nearly every geography student studies the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Kyoto Protocol and the like. The grading system is such that you cannot score well if you don’t discuss the failures. This means that each student is made aware of the shortcomings of such international agreements, and this makes quite a few lose faith and hope that we can do something where others have failed. This readily available information makes it easier for us to form opinions and take stands about what we feel is right vs. wrong.

 

The UN was a central promoter of making social movements’ issues like human rights global issues, as in the UN Decade of Women. The first conference was in Mexico City in 1975, completed by the Beijing conference 20 years later. The UN focuses attention on youth, providing studies about their needs, training youth leaders and including youth in policy making. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first international legally binding policy to insure that children have the full range of human rights, including participation in decisions that affect them. It mandates that children under 18 be included in UN programming. It was ratified by 194 nations. The US is the only UN member state not to ratify it, partly because it is the only country to sentence children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is prohibited by the Convention.     The first World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth was held in 1998, and the UN continued to organize World Youth Forums. It also publishes the World Youth Report including youth activism. In 2002, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed the children of the world in his opening statement to the General Assembly: “We, the grown-ups, have failed you deplorably… One in three of you has suffered from malnutrition before you turned five years old. One in four of you has not been immunized against any disease. Almost one in five of you is not attending school…. We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures.” An International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations was organized in 2004 to better advocate with the UN and other global organizations.

UNICEF, the “world’s leading agency on children,” points out that adolescents play a central role in halting the spread of HIV/AIDs, protecting against violence and abuse, contributing to survival programs for young children, and developing policy.[i] UNESCO points out that because the world has over one billion people between the ages of 15 and 25, these youth should be involved in formulating global policies that concern them. Examples of how to include youth are available.[ii] Its Voices of Youth was founded in 1995 so that global youth can communicate online. UNESCO includes a Youth Forum before its general conference discussing employment, democracy, sustainable development, student activism, etc.

The goal of the UN’s Child-Friendly Cities Initiative is to put children at the forefront of urban planning. UNHabitat studies youth issues and facilitates meetings and advocates for youth: “The challenge of putting youth at the centre of development strategies can be compared to the challenge, two decades ago, of putting women and gender issues on the development agenda.”[iii] Youth are victimized by urban poverty, child trafficking, sexual exploitation, high unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and living on urban streets. UNDP (UN Development Programme) works with a network of youth organizations with 30,000 young participants to improve adolescent sexual and reproduction health. It also works with an NGO called Restless Development to facilitate youth leadership in development. UNFPA (UN Population Fund) supports an Internet site called Global Voices to report on youth issues.

The UN interagency Network on Youth Development was established in 2010 and the first Envoy on Youth took office in 2013. Many other UN agencies work on improving the status of global children and youth.[iv] Probably more than any other international organization, it has been proactive in training African youth.[v] Beginning in 1981, the UN General Assembly asked governments to include youth delegates and some Scandinavian countries did so. More countries included youth representatives after the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) in 1995. WPAY coordinates UN youth programs and identifies priority actions for youth as education, employment, hunger and poverty, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls’ rights, and youth participation.[vi] It aims to include youth in political decision-making, similar to the European Youth Forum and the Nigerian National Youth Parliament.

The UN set aside 2010 as the International Year of the Youth to “advance the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society.”[vii] The official slogan for the International Year of Youth (IYY) was: “Our Year. Our Voice.” The Global Youth Movement for the Alliance of Civilizations initiative proposed at the UN General Assembly in 2005 “aims to highlight concrete actions of youth to advance cross-cultural understanding.”[viii] A World Youth Conference was held in Mexico City in 2010, sponsored by the government of Mexico and the UN.[ix] The conference focused on themes that pertain to young people: poverty, education, information and communication technologies, health, gender equality, human security, human rights, sustainable development, international migration, citizens’ participation and advocacy, and global partnership and cooperation.[x]

At the UN’s Global Youth Forum in Bali in 2012, the representatives advocated that national governments should appoint a young Youth Minister and elect youth parliaments to advise national parliaments. They should include young people with a focus on young women and “youth belonging to vulnerable groups.” A Facebook page called “Global Youth Voices” was formed to encourage youth input, as does my Global Youth SpeakOut page on Facebook.

To prepare for a 2012 report for the United Nations on youth programs, 21 governments and 49 youth organizations responded to a survey.[xi] Nineteen of the countries had or were developing a youth policy with a statement of rights and 13 had a national youth council, as in Argentina and Germany. About half of the world’s countries have national youth policies (99 countries in 2013), while 43 countries lack them.[xii] UNESCO created a guideline for setting them up, with an emphasis on youth participation.[xiii] Some countries have youth ministers to implement national youth strategies (NYP), as in Germany and Senegal. European countries and Oceania are more likely to have them. The NYP of Belize was designed by youths and it has a Minister of State with Responsibility for Youth and Sports. He explained their youth council will make sure the government implements policy. Some countries developed national databases on youth. To be successful the NYPs need funding, youth participation, and implementation. Various books discuss youth participation in government policies.[xiv]

The UN Secretary General appointed a youth envoy in 2013, part of his priority for working for youth and women to address the needs of the largest generation of youth the world has ever known.[xv] Ahmad Alhendawi, 29, is from Jordan and worked in Cairo. His announced his priority is to find the 425 million jobs that young adults will need in the next 15 years and higher wages for the 2 million youth who earn less than $2 a day. “We can’t lose this generation,” he said in a UN webcast. Alhindawi aims to facilitate youth participation by helping to shape the post-Millennial Development Goals agenda, especially to include marginalized youth such as girls. His third goal is to coordinate an infrastructure of youth programs in different agencies in the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development. The Secretary General also set up Youth Advisory Councils to UN offices in countries around the world and ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Youth Forums. Alhindawi encouraged governments to set up youth-led advisory groups and the World Bank has also set up youth advisory groups around the world.

Alhindawi believes that the System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (SWAP) developed under the leadership of Ban Ki-moon is the most important UN document since the World Programme of Action for Youth in 1995. SWAP’s priorities are employment and entrepreneurship, health and education, and youth participation and rights. The UN Commission on Human Rights initiated a “Free and Equal” educational campaign to promote equality for GLBT people in 2013, explaining that at least 76 countries still criminalized consensual same sex relationships. UN agencies including UNICEF, the Global Education First Initiative and its Youth Advocacy Group, and UNESCO produced an Advocacy Toolkit for youth in 2014.[xvi]

Starting in Rio+20 meeting in 2012, the UN solicited youth input into the new Millennium Development Goals that expired in 2015.[xvii] Over seven million people, mostly young people under 30, responded to the My World survey to formulate the new goals. The respondents suggested new issues to be included including honest government, protection from crime and violence, better job opportunities, equality between men and women and protection of the environment.[xviii] Save the Children NGO released a report in 2012 to update the UN Millennium Development Goals titled, “Ending Poverty in Our Generation.”[xix] The report advocated that inequality be addressed in the new goals since the income of the poorest 77% equals that of the top 1.75% of the world’s population. It pointed to Brazil and China as countries that have made progress towards equality and to the need for financial and trading systems to benefit poor countries. Another blind spot in the original MDGs was the impact of violence on children.

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) titled “Transforming Our World” were passed by UN members in September 2015, consisting of a set of 17 goals with 169 targets to end poverty by 2030. It will cost $3 trillion to reach the goals that sound noble, but professor Glen David Kuecker at DePauw University calls them lipstick on a pig.[xx] The same power broker corporations, NGOs and consultants are in line for the development funds. Kuecker predicts that, “The SDGs will provide just enough growth so that just enough food, medicine, and education are available for the multitudes to ensure the system remains seamless in its reproduction and capitalism remains non-negotiable,” controlling the system from behind the scenes similar to the Matrix films.

[i] “Adolescents and Youth,” 2009. http://www.unicef.org/adolescence/index_bigpicatuare.html

[ii] http://www.youthpolicy.org/library/documents/adolescent-participation-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean/

The report draws from best practices in 18 programs and additional research.

See also http://www.youthpolicy.org/library/documents/a-potpourri-of-participation-models/

[iii] http://www.unhabitat.org/list.asp?typeid=3&catid=531

[iv] http://www.un.org/youthenvoy/about/

[v] http://www.wfuna.org/youth-impact-africa

http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/may-2013/africa%E2%80%99s-greatest-assets-are-its-young-people

http://www.uncrd.or.jp/africa/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/dakar/about-this-office/single-view/news/two_new_videos_showcase_examples_of_youth_training_that_works/#.UwAxlkJdV8k

[vi] http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/global.htm

[vii] http://social.un.org/youthyear/

[viii] http://unaocyouth.org/gym

[ix] www.youth2010.org/site/

http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/index.html

http://social.un.org/youthyear/

[x] http://www.youth2010.org/site/

[xi] “Implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth,” Report of the UN Secretary General, November 29, 2012.

http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/618/80/PDF/N1261880.pdf?OpenElement

[xii] http://www.youthpolicy.org/nationalyouthpolicies/

[xiii] “Empowering Youth through National Policies,” UNESCO, 2004. www.unesco.org/youth Shows a map of countries with policies and reviews them.

http://www.planwithyouth.org/resources/youth-policies/

[xiv] Barry Percy-Smith and Nigel Thomas, editors. A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation. Routledge, 2009.

Roger Hart. Theory and Practice of Involving Young Citizens in Community Development and Environmental Care. Routledge, 1997.

David Driskell. Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth: A Manual for Participation. Routledge, 2001.

Kelly Curtis. Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. Search Institute, 2008.

[xv] Biography: http://j.mp/13J6yoq
UN Programme on Youth: http://j.mp/iR3FSe

[xvi] http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/4240.htm

[xvii] http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/362419

[xviii] http://millionvoices-data.worldwewant2015.org/

[xix] http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/ENDING_POVERTY_IN_OUR_GENERATION_AFRICA_LOW_RES_US_VERSION.PDF

[xx] Glen David Kuecker, “UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Matrix Reloaded,” TeleSur, October 2, 2015.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/UN-Sustainable-Development-Goals-The-Matrix-Reloaded-20151002-0012.html

Shadow US Foreign Policy by NED

How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Regime Change Around the World

To most people the National Endowment for Democracy, probably looks like a pretty innocuous organization. But when you examine the records of those who control it and its affiliates, it starts to look like they’re running a shadow foreign policy, sometimes acting in ways that are contrary to the wishes of the powers that be in Washington.

Published: October 30, 2015 | Authors: Derek Royden | NationofChange | News http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/10/30/how-the-national-endowment-for-democracy-manufactures-regime-change-around-the-world/

“A lot of what we do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA.”

Kids teach kids

In India, Babar Ali started teaching young students in his backyard in West Bengal when he was only nine. He played pretend school with neighbors; when the children starting learning and enjoying it, the school was formed in 2002.[i] Many families can’t afford to pay for school uniforms and books although no tuition is charged. Now 16, after going to school he returns home to teach 800 children: Home is a small thatched house where he lives with his three siblings and parents. Other volunteer teachers his age help him. Ali says the rod is spared in his school, he treats students like friends. Photos are available showing the students sitting on the ground.[ii]

[i] http://www.india.youth-leader.org/2011/09/babar-ali-%E2%80%93-world%E2%80%99s-youngest-headmaster-making-remarkable-changes-in-india/

[ii] Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma, “Babar Ali,” Youth Leader Indian Subcontinent,

http://www.india.youth-leader.org/2011/09/babar-ali-%E2%80%93-world%E2%80%99s-youngest-headmaster-making-remarkable-changes-in-india/

Global Youth Resources: Add your Input

WHO warns about meat carcinogenic

Processed meats have been placed in the same health risk category as smoking and asbestos by the cancer research body of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

Products that have been salted, cured, or otherwise processed to enhance flavor are “carcinogenic to humans,” the Paris-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found in its report, published in the Lancet Oncology. That puts processed meat in the Group 1 carcinogenic category alongside substances like tobacco, alcohol, and plutonium. And non-processed fresh meats like beef, pork, and lamb, among others, are “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the agency said.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/10/26/processed-meats-pose-severe-cancer-risk-says-who