Protecting human rights in Afghanistan spotlighted at Kunduz University symposium

19 Dec 2019

Protecting human rights in Afghanistan spotlighted at Kunduz University symposium

KUNDUZ - Participants at a UN-backed seminar at Kunduz University underscored the crucial importance of human rights for peace and stability, and highlighted the special role of young people as constructive agents of change in promoting and protecting rights.

The university event was the final in a series of seminars facilitated by UNAMA’s Kunduz regional office to enable faculty and students to discuss international and national principles related to human rights provisions, with a specific focus on Afghanistan.

In the wide-ranging panel discussion in the final seminar, with more than 100 students from six faculties in attendance, participants noted that the seminars have contributed not only to enhancing student interest in human rights but also to generating support for a new Human Rights and Peace Centre as a step to institutionalizing the first-ever Master’s Degree in Human Rights in Afghanistan.

During the discussion, panellists stressed the important relationship between human rights, peace and stability, and encouraged university students to advocate for the protection of human rights in the country.

The discussion focused on the theme of this year’s Human Rights Day – ‘Youth Stand Up for Human Rights’ – to highlight the role of young people as constructive agents of change, to amplify their voices and to engage a broad range of audiences in the promotion and protection of human rights.

The UN’s ‘Youth Stand Up for Human Rights’ campaign this year is designed to encourage and galvanise youth, and to showcase how young people all over the world are standing up for human rights, including against racism, hate speech, injustice, discrimination and war.

Afghanistan has a young population, with almost two-thirds estimated to be under the age of 25. Notwithstanding significant progress made especially in relation to access to health services and education for girls and boys, including the enactment of the Child Act in March 2019, millions of children in Afghanistan are deprived of their basic rights – including their right to life, to health, to learn, to play, to participate and to develop to reach their full potential.

The United Nations continues to work with Afghanistan’s institutions, including the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, in supporting the implementation of the country’s international human rights obligations, its constitutional framework as well as relevant domestic laws.

As part of the discussion at Kunduz University, participants provided an overview of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and discussed how this instrument has helped formulate many national and international instruments worldwide, including in Afghanistan where the Declaration has helped formulate national laws including the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law, the revised Penal Code and the Anti-Torture Law.

The symposium, the final in the series of UN-backed events at the university, was recorded by local media outlets Uranoos TV and Radio Kunduz and broadcast to an audience estimated at 300,000 people in and around Kunduz city.

UNAMA continues to work with advocacy groups and institutions – including provincial councils, religious leaders, youth groups, women’s groups and local media outlets – to create platforms, using radio, social media and television, to enable Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.

At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussions and debates 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 and human rights.

In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. 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.