Afghanistan

Young Afghans in the country’s northeast discuss their role in building peace

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KUNDUZ - The active participation of youth in peacebuilding, locally and nationally, is crucial for creating a more stable and inclusive Afghanistan, said participants in a series of UN-backed events in the country’s northeast.

In the first two events arranged by UNAMA’s Kunduz regional office, dozens of young Afghans from Kunduz and Takhar came together to discuss their role in building peace in their communities and participating fully in Afghanistan’s social and political life.

Khairuddin Khairkhah, Takhar University’s chancellor, opened one of the panel discussions by talking about the importance of acceptance and respect. “If we want to put end to the ongoing unrest, let’s accept each other,” said Khairkhah. “It’s time to embrace peace; it is an urgent need for all Afghans, and the young generation has a very important role to play.”

In the panel-discussion format, audience members interacted with speakers. They expressed concern about young Afghans not being fully involved in the country’s democratic processes. Many called on youth to play a strong role in political decision-making.

Other participants – audience members and panellists alike – discussed the importance of young Afghans helping to deter and resolve local conflict by taking initiative in their communities and speaking out about the importance of peacefully resolving disputes.

While young Afghans in the northeast of the country face significant challenges, including illiteracy and unemployment, there is a growing recognition that any peace efforts in Afghanistan must be inclusive and must therefore involve young people. That concept is reaffirmed by Security Council Resolution 2282 (2016), which recognizes the importance of youth in deterring and resolving conflict.

Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the country’s population is below the age of 30, making young people a vital demographic. Young Afghans are also among the most affected by the protracted conflict, grappling with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.

The events in Kunduz and Takhar, the first two in a series of similar events in the northeast, were recorded by media partners for later broadcast in the provinces, reaching audiences estimated at 600,000 residents in and around the provincial capitals. Similar UN-backed events are scheduled to take place in Badakhshan and Baghlan in September.

The events and broadcasts in Afghanistan’s northeast were among many other similar programmes, events and initiatives resulting from UNAMA reaching out to a range of groups across the country to create spaces, both physical and on social media, for them to come together and discuss issues that are of critical importance to them, and to strategize on the best way forward.

At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.