Shqipe Neziri, Manager with UNDP’s anticorruption program in Kosovo, contributes the following guest post on behalf of UNDP-Kosovo. [Note: For purposes of this post, in reflection of the fact that Kosovo is not a member of the UN, references to “Kosovo” should be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)):
Young people are often forgotten victims of corruption, left without an opportunity to voice their concerns, to help make positive changes, or to enhance their skills and become active citizens for a better future. Yet young people can play an important role in the fight against corruption. They tend to be more open to wide-scale socio-political transformation and have less vested interested in maintaining the status quo. Moreover, the values and attitudes of young people today will shape the values of the society tomorrow. The question is how to harness then energy and innovation of young people, and to provide the right kinds of support.
UNDP’s recent efforts in Kosovo may provide an example of how to foster a youth-based anticorruption movement. Corruption in Kosovo is a serious problem, viewed by Kosovars as the third-most serious problem, after poverty and unemployment. Kosovo’s population skews young –half of its 2 million citizens are under the age of 30 – and Kosovo’s young people are frustrated by corruption and lack of economic opportunity. (The overall unemployment rate is 35%, while unemployment rate of youth aged 15-24 years is 60%.) For several years, UNDP Kosovo has been placing youth at the core of its development support. Through our anticorruption efforts we have been helping to strengthen the voice of the youth and to foster their participation in decision making through the use of traditional and social media, and working to make institutions more responsive to youth.
What are some of our most successful youth-focused anticorruption initiatives? Here are some examples, which might serve as useful models for others:
- Integrity Youth Camps. Integrity camps aim to inform and educate youth on the benefits of integrity and transparency to shape good governance. Heads of rule of law institutions, well-known journalists, civil society representatives, and civil servants have joined integrity camps to share their experience and encourage youth to become agents of change. The idea is to offer youth from various backgrounds (Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians) tools and incentives to become strong supporters of open and responsible governance, and to mobilize their peers.
- Education against corruption. Anticorruption education in schools can help develop the moral attitudes and capabilities of students. To further this sort of education, we have piloted a series of lectures in high schools and universities (both public and private), delivered by the representatives of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Prosecution, Judiciary, Police, and civil society. These lectures introduce students to the roles and responsibilities of various institutions, and also inform students about their rights to access information and justice.
- Hackathons. We have launched “hackathons” for the first time in Kosovo whereby young computer programmers and software developers develop solutions for local government business problems. The first such hackathon, DigiPrishtina, gathered 15 teams of young innovators who put their heads together to come up with digital solutions to make the city more transparent. Throughout the process they received support from on-site mentors and were provided with a working space to facilitate the free flow of ideas. Tools that were developed include e-recruitment (to prevent corruption in the recruitment process in the municipality) and e-spending (to allow citizens to know exactly where their money goes).
- Social innovation camps. These camps are another new initiative to encourage young activists to identify and fight practices in their communities that contribute to corruption. UNDP awards winning teams that utilize innovative methods to generate and design pragmatic solutions for these problems. For example, in one such competition – UpShift: Transparency event with UNICEF Innovations Lab – the winning projects included a project using an original crowdsourcing platform to raise girls’ engagement in the fight against corruption.
- Training. We have supported programs to train youth in a variety of skills that can help them in their efforts to expose and opposed corruption, including skills like blogging, visualizing findings and open data, using traditional and social media, photography, and journalistic writing.
These efforts, though limited in some ways, both raise awareness among young people and help cultivate in those young people the skills they need to join – and one day lead – the fight for a corruption-free society.