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Yemen's Independent Youth and Their Role in the National Dialogue Conference

Triggering a Change in Political Culture

SWP Comment 2013/C 23, 13.08.2013, 8 Pages Research Areas

In March 2013, a six-month National Dialogue Conference (NDC) began. It has brought together 565 diverse participants, among them representatives of Yemen's independent youth, who were essential in starting the 2011 uprising. The Conference is tasked with putting forward decisions on major topics related to Yemen's future. In July, a majority of participants adopted the decisions and recommendations of six of the nine working groups. Youth and other independent participants were crucial in pushing for recommendations promoting equal citizenship for men and women in the decisions adopted. Yet, their impact on decision making remains limited. In addition, amidst continued insecurity and economic crisis, the working groups on the structure of the state and long-lasting conflicts in the north and south have not reached agreement. While failure of the NDC is thus not unlikely, the participation of independent youth has already triggered positive changes in the country's political culture. Europeans should support this trend and provide technical assistance and skills-building to independent youth groups.