Third Session: „Good Practices and Lessons Learned to Empower Young People to Counter Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism (VERLT)“
Wednesday, July 1, 9-11am
I would like to thank the Chairmanship and the Secretariat for organizing this timely conference and I also wish to thank all panelists for their presentations.
My delegation wishes to express its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of recent terrorist attacks and we offer our sympathy and solidarity with our friends in France, Kuwait and Tunisia. Afghanistan has been a victim of terrorism for a very long time and we strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The youth is Afghanistan’s future, like in all other countries. What sets us apart is our society’s specific age structure with almost two thirds of the population being younger than 25 years. Those between 15 and 24 years of age comprise 17 percent of the population. We are a young society and we are in the process of shaping and fostering our young democracy. We are making every effort to empower our young people in all areas including in countering VERLT.
As we are discussing these important matters here today, terrorist groups are attempting to recruit our innocent young people and try to engage them in criminal, terrorist activities. We are committed to protect our youth from becoming soft targets for the terrorist organizations, but we require international assistance toward capacity-building to protect our young people from becoming vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment and to engage them as agents of positive change, toward democratic values, norms and principles. We are focusing on education, a key factor also in this area, and on communicating modern and positive role models.
In August 2014, The Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan has presented the Afghanistan National Youth Policy (ANYP), the first of its kind in the country. It was designed and developed in line with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), the National Priority Programmes (NPPs) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It is intended to serve—inter alia—the following purposes: (a) Acknowledge youth as a critical group for Afghanistan’s development and poverty reduction; (b) Identify fundamental needs of youth and provide the legal framework and strategic guidelines for sustainable youth development; (c) Identify gaps and shortfalls in existing policies and programmes of both public and private sectors for youth and provide a joint framework for addressing these gaps; (d) Acknowledge the distinctive and complementary role of government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and youth organizations in youth development and to provide a joint framework for common goals; (e) Provide opportunities for political, economic, social and cultural participation of youth and invigorate youth at the national and sub-national levels; (f) Provide and support appropriate and decent employment to youth for their economic and social development. More specifically, the ANYP aims at promoting civic education for youth at risk of radicalization and building public awareness regarding the harms and prevention of violence, including gender-based violence.
The issue of VERLT has become a growing challenge for my country and we are addressing this menace also on the regional and international level, while mobilizing our youth to contribute to the fight against this problem. It is our task and a main priority to provide education, jobs and opportunities and to raise public awareness by also engaging mosques, imams and community leaders in the villages.
The National Unity Government of Afghanistan realizes that additional and customized initiatives, policies and strategies will be required to better protect Afghanistan’s young people, who are facing numerous hardships. It is our goal to actively involve our young women and men in activities to counter VERLT, since we hold the view that this will be the most effective way of protecting them against extremism and radicalization. In doing so, we will require the assistance from the international community including the OSCE, specifically in the design, implementation and assessment of measures to counter VERLT.
We believe that empowering women’s roles in countering VERLT is of particular importance. We anticipate much stronger future roles for our women in addressing VERLT and in our society as such.
Afghanistan now has a free, independent and flourishing media landscape and rapid proliferation of social media provides additional ground for self-expression, in particular for our youth. We will work to provide the foundations for all of our young people, also in more rural communities, to find their voices and to speak out against VERLT. In this context, let me also mention that Afghanistan’s Third Annual Social Media Summit will be held in September this year.
We thank the OSCE and the many of its contributing participating and Partner States for providing assistance and support for Afghanistan over the past years. I am seizing this opportunity to encourage all of you to continue your support for the young people of Afghanistan.