More than 200 young Afghans from around the country got a taste of international diplomacy during a two-day conference in Afghanistan’s capital.
Among the speakers were Spoghmai Wardak, Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs, Pernille Kardel, UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, and George Cunningham, Deputy Head of the EU in Afghanistan.
Known as the Kabul Model United Nations, the event was set up to provide an “authentic simulation” of the international diplomatic world found at the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
Ms. Wardak asked boys and girls to work together to bring about positive changes in the country: “We expect youth to suggest good recommendations and policies, and work together to lead the country toward peace and prosperity.”
Ms. Kardel, who is the deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), encouraged participants at the model UN to think like the state they represent as well as trying to understand the thinking of other states.
“The more we are able to understand the actions and the behaviour of our neighbours, the more we can find common ground and the more we can avoid crises,” she said. “Often, we learn that the compromise we reached through consensus was even better than our initial position.”
Ms. Kardel said that the UN plays an important role as “an advocate for essential norms, such as respect for equal rights, justice and self-determination.”
Mohammad Yahya Qanie, President of the Kabul Model United Nations, said that youth can bring about change if the opportunity is provided to them. “Youth have talent, education, energy, commitment and hope for a bright future,” he said. “The only thing they need is support.”
Abdullah Javed, a law student and participant at the event, said he plans to be a diplomat in the future and attending the conference will help familiarize him with diplomatic terminology. “I want to learn and represent my country in the future,” he said.
The Kabul Model United Nations was founded in 2014 by young Afghan leaders in Kabul. It was set up to mobilize youth by facilitating a platform of academic discourse to practice democracy and peacebuilding, and to promote human rights and gender equality.