The Arab Human Development Report: Worth a Second Read

10 Feb 2011


The Arab Human Development Report is an independent report sponsored by UNDP and authored by leading scholars, policymakers and opinion leaders in the Arab countries.

UNDP is working closely with stakeholders in the Arab countries to address many of the challenges raised by the report.

In the area of governance, UNDP is helping to create the first-ever women lawyers’ association in Sudan; to develop an independent anti-corruption authority in Iraq; to support free and fair elections in Lebanon; to strengthen decentralized governance in Yemen; to increase the effectiveness of parliament in Bahrain, Lebanon and Algeria; to improve gender-responsive delivery of social services; to advance legal empowerment of the poor; and to bring to the forefront issues of local governance in conflict contexts.

With eyes fixed on the rapidly-changing Arab world, the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has convened scholars, policymakers and opinion leaders in the region since 2002 to analyze and assess the extent of development challenges facing their countries.

Their findings, captured in five volumes of the Arab Human Development Report, foster a broad, informed discussion on the key questions facing stakeholders in the pursuit of human development to its full potential.

In many ways, these reports are a breakthrough: Not only do they highlight the root causes and the deep drivers of development challenges in the region, but they also outline a vision for the fulfillment of human development through increased access to education and knowledge, full enjoyment of freedom as the cornerstone of good governance, and empowerment of women.

Most important is the wide range of challenges facing Arab youth as they transition into adulthood. According to the 2009 edition, Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries, about 30 percent of the youth in the Arab States region is unemployed. Considering that more than 50 percent of the population in Arab countries is under the age of 24, 51 million new jobs are needed by 2020 in order to avoid an increase in the unemployment rate.

Equally critical is the importance of good governance to the achievement of development results, a central message in all of the Arab Human Development Reports, which focus on a number of development challenges facing the people of the Arab countries, including poverty, unemployment, water scarcity, food security, climate change, the empowerment of women as well as vulnerable groups, and conflict prevention and recovery.

According to the reports’ authors, development gains are likely to be more sustainable where all citizens are empowered and government at all levels is responsive, transparent and accountable. They are firm and unequivocal in their call for governance systems and political leaders in the Arab countries to make progress, along with citizens, on rule of law, checks and balances and participation.

“Bold thinking holds the key to realizing grand visions for the future,” reads the 2002 report. “Great goals require great acts.”

Arab Human Development Report 2009
Challenges for Human Security in the Arab Region

Arab Human Development Reports (AHDRs) engage institutions and citizens in the Arab countries in global concerns so as to build understanding and consensus around regional and national development priorities.

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