It’s not a new idea, that providing opportunities for people to earn a living and to contribute to society is at the heart of peacebuiding, but it was good to hear Martti Ahtisaari highlighting that in his recent speech:
Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari said Saturday that finding jobs for more than 1 billion young people in the Middle East and Asia will be a major challenge to peacebuilding in the next decade.
“During the next 10 years about 1.2 billion young 15-to-30-year-olds will be entering the job market and with the means now at our disposal about 300 million will get a job,” Ahtisaari said in an interview with Finnish YLE TV.
“What will we offer these young, about a billion of them, or will we leave them to be recruited by criminal leagues and terrorists?” he asked.
I would just add that the need for meaningful, self-sustaining work is not limited to the Middle East and Asia, and that oppressed peoples only rarely turn to violence, but Ahtisaari’s challenge stands as one we must not ignore. Our global economic system increasingly robs people of the opportunity for self-sustaining work and for economic self-determination.
The economic injustice is closely related to lack of education, a problem addressed by the United Nations Literacy Decade 2003-2012 project, whose motto is “Literacy for all: voice for all, learning for all.” The Literacy Decade emphasizes adult literacy as well as one prerequisite for a more just society.
It’s tragic to see how great the gap is between our response to terrorism and global unrest and our appreciation of its underlying causes.