Our Perspective

      • A clash of generations: How high percentages of young people can fuel conflicts | Henrik Urdal

        20 Dec 2013

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        Refugees from Syria's conflict. (Photo: UNHCR)

        In a time of unprecedented demographic change — there will be an estimated 9.6 billion people mainly concentrated in cities around the globe by 2050 — population structures play a significant role in the overall peace and stability of a country. My research focuses on the correlation between populations with burgeoning numbers of young people, which social scientists call "youth bulges," instability, and conflicts. Around the world, 68 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Yemen, have demographic pyramids heavily skewed towards younger populations. Many of these countries, where more than 30 percent of the adult population is between the ages of 15 and 24, are currently experiencing violence or social or political unrest. While youth bulges are not the only cause of violence, when combined with low education, a failing job market unable to employ high numbers of young workers, and an inaccessible political system excluding youth from participation, the risk of conflict increases. The current conflict in Syria is a case in point. In 2000, Syria had the third-largest youth bulge in the world, as well as one of the lowest rates of secondary education in the Middle East and North Africa. As in many other countries in the region, Read More

      • Planning the recovery: Three observations from the Philippines | Kamal Kishore

        18 Dec 2013

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        In areas around Tacloban city, even well-engineered buildings suffered serious damage. (Photo: UNPD in the Philippines)

        Arriving in Manila only a few days after Typhoon Haiyan, I found myself wondering why we were there in the first place. As we often point out, the Philippines is one of the best prepared nations in the region, with impressive early warning and emergency systems. So why then did Haiyan have such a devastating impact, and how can we avert future emergencies? One of the first things I noticed upon arriving is how damage, destruction and deaths from the storm varied significantly across the country. Guiuan, for instance, suffered about one tenth of the casualties endured by other regions, although it faced winds of a similar magnitude. It cannot be a coincidence then that the lower number of deaths seems to be directly proportional to how quickly and efficiently the local government responded. The second observation is that the transition from relief to recovery seems to be moving quickly. A sense of urgency is indeed welcome; however, the key challenge is to not only rebuild quickly but also to do it better, with a long-term view and resilience-building mindset. It is important to remember that during the recovery we are not only rebuilding physical things but also lives, livelihoods and Read More

      • Violence against women is not acceptable and it is preventable | Suki Beavers & Benjamin Kumpf

        16 Dec 2013

        Antonio Banderas, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, appeals to end violence against women

        Globally, three out of ten women report that they have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner at some point during their lifetime. The toll of violence on  women's health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined, creates significant costs for societies and hinders development. Up to now, our efforts have largely focused on ending impunity for perpetrators and providing comprehensive services  for victims/survivors.  These are critical and must be accelerated. But they must also be accompanied by additional efforts to prevent gender-based violence before it happens. In order to frame effective prevention policies, programmes and advocacy, we need to better understand the factors associated with some men’s use of violence. As a contribution, we are investing in context specific research such as the multi-country study on the use of violence by men we commissioned with UN Women, UN Population Fund and UN Volunteers. The research found out that, out of the 10,000 men surveyed, nearly half reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner. For example eighty per cent of men who admitted to committing rape in two of the study countries cited a sense of sexual entitlement as their motivation. Overall, men who view Read More

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