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Spotlight Article

Azerbaijan, A Leader for Youth Policy

Azerbaijan America Alliance
November 03, 2014

Last week, beginning on October 28, Baku was host to First World Global Forum on Youth Policies. Azerbaijan’s own Ministry of Youth and Sport hosted the three-day event together with UNDP, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. In 2013, 50 percent of countries had a national youth policy. Now, only a year later, 62 percent of countries have established national youth policies. This forum was an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to these policies and underline the sincerity behind them.

The population of Azerbaijan is approximately 50 percent youth, making it a very appropriate host for the forum. President Aliyev addressed the event attendees on the first day of the event. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to host the historic event and added,  “We consider it as recognition of the efforts of our government in sports policy, youth policy, and policy related to active development of the country.” 


President of Azerbaijan Haydar Aliyev addressing the First Global Forum on Youth Policies


Azerbaijan has had a Ministry of Youth and Sport since 1994, and its leadership has developed a well-educated and empowered young population. Azerbaijan ranks 60 out of 170 countries with a score of .69 in the Commonwealth Youth Development Index. This index rates countries based on education, health and well-being, employment, civic participation and political participation of youth. Azerbaijan’s high score is due in part to its strong individual score in education, standing at an impressive .891. UNICEF reports that Azerbaijan has a literacy rate of almost 100 percent for youth between the ages of 15 and 24. Beyond basic measures like literacy, Azerbaijan has made a demonstrated commitment to post secondary education. The State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan finances more than two thousand students annually for study abroad.

Azerbaijan has taken concrete actions towards developing its youth, and unsurprisingly it was orientation to action that became a theme of the event.  Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Program Support at UNDP, stressed on the first day of the forum that the World Program of Action for youth has strived to, “steer away of rhetoric declarations.” Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, mirrored this desire for action and not simply words of support, “young people are not asking for support, they are asking for investment.” 

The sentiments expressed by Magdy Martinez-Soliman and Ahmad Alhendawi clearly expressed that the forum was intended to be more than symbolic. The leaders and experts gathered at the inaugural forum were demanding more from one another than a public declaration of support for youth. It is fortunate that Azerbaijan, as the event’s host, had already demonstrated a commitment to an action-based approach. As the development of youth is taken more seriously by more nations, Azerbaijan will be remembered as a leader of the movement. 

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