Youth’s role in building peace spotlighted in televised UN-backed debate
JALALABAD - The advocacy role of young Afghans in working with government to fight corruption, promote women’s equality and bring about sustainable peace was the focus of a UN-backed television programme in the eastern province of Nangarhar this week.
The programme, supported by the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was designed to encourage young Afghans to participate in public life and help better define their responsibilities in working with local-level government.
A five-member panel, consisting of a civil society member, an academic, a government official, a religious scholar and a youth advocate, discussed a broad range of issues for the 30 minute programme, which later aired on Jalalabad’s Sharq television and radio stations to an audience estimated at 500,000 people in and around the provincial capital.
Youth in Nangarhar face significant challenges of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and inequality. There is a growing recognition by government and other peace-brokers that any lasting peace process in Afghanistan must involve young people. This principle is reaffirmed by Security Council Resolution 2282 (2016), which recognizes the centrality of youth in deterring and resolving conflicts.
In the lively discussion, panellists called on communities across the province to empower Afghan youth so they can play a more vital role in peace-building as well as development. They also called on the government to support youth with vocational programmes that can enhance their opportunities for participating in the full spectrum of Afghan social and political life.
“If we look into the harsh ground reality, every day Afghan youth are paying huge price in the ongoing warfare,” said Matiullah Ahmadzai, head of Nangarhar’s sub-directorate of youth. “There is a need to ensure active participation of youth in peace-building processes at all levels.”
Ms Zarghuna Naeemi, a civil society activist, echoed these sentiments, saying that youth should be represented in every step taken toward peace. “So far, the energy and ability of youth and women regarding peace and development is not used properly,” she said, noting that if youth are supported by the government, everyone could become an initiator and ambassador of peace.
UNAMA has been partnering with local media in the eastern region and in other areas of the country to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogue and discuss pressing issues affecting their communities.
Nangarhar province has a strong agricultural base and is home to a significant trade route linking Afghanistan with Pakistan. There is ongoing insecurity in the province, with both Taliban and Islamic State militants maintaining an active presence.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.
UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.