The Millennium Development Goals in the Arab Region 2007: A Youth Lens

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The year 2007 marks the midpoint between the adoption in 2000 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), under the United Nations Millennium Declaration, and the target date of 2015 for their attainment. Since adopting the eight Goals, the Arab region has achieved progress in many relevant areas, including significant strides in health and education. However, despite the efforts Arab countries have invested in meeting the Goals, there have been setbacks and constraints attributable to a number of factors, including the relatively poor economic performance in the 1990s and at the turn of the new century, inadequate financing of social policies, lack of administrative and managerial competencies, and increasing political tensions and conflicts. The Arab region continues to be characterized by sharp disparities between the different subregions, particularly between the high-income countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab least developed countries (LDCs). Those disparities are not only large in terms of level of development, but also in terms of progress made towards the attainment of the MDGs. Indeed, while the GCC countries seem to be on track in achieving most MDG targets, Arab LDCs and conflict-ridden Iraq and Palestine lag significantly behind, making it unlikely that they will be able to meet the majority of the targets by 2015. Though national specificities do, for the most part, account for the observed disparities, common issues can be clearly discerned across all Arab countries and within sub-groups of countries. This Report gives special emphasis to the complexities and magnitude of issues facing young men and women aged between 15 and 24 in the Arab world. That age group exhibited the largest population increase of all demographic categories since the 1950s, accounting now for more than 20 per cent of the total population. With such an unprecedented number of young people, Arab Governments should pay particular policy attention to the specific needs and priorities of that demographic group.

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