DELEGATION OF AFGHANISTAN
By Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel
OSCE – 1170th Permanent Council
Agenda item 1:
Report by the Special Representatives of the Chairperson-in-Office on
Youth and Security
21 December 2017
Thank you, Chair!
Let me start by thanking the Special Representatives on Youth and Security for their comprehensive and excellent report. We congratulate Mr. Alajbegovic, Ms. Deininger, Mr. Pugliese, Mr. Safdary and Mr. Schernbeck upon their great efforts in 2017.
We commend the OSCE for providing a stage for young people at major events of our organization, making their voices heard at meetings of the Ministerial Council and the Permanent Council, the Asian Contact Group, in events of the OSCE campaign “United in Countering Violent Extremism” and at other meetings organized by OSCE institutions and structures.
Afghanistan shares OSCE’s dedication to boost the role of youth in society and fully integrate youth in our peace and development agenda, making full use of their potential to nurture Afghanistan’s young democracy. We are committed to protect our young people while facilitating the participation of our young generation, girls and boys, across all spheres of society.
Almost 65 percent of Afghans are under 25 years of age. Afghanistan’s Unity Government makes every effort to provide education and opportunities and to empower our young people to facilitate full participation and to contribute to stability and development in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s National Youth Policy was created in 2014, by the Office of the Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs within the Ministry of Information and Culture, in close co-operation with line ministries, civil society organizations including youth groups, and UN agencies. The document reflects the needs and abilities of young people in delivering peace, development and social and economic growth, and it makes clear recommendations towards youth participation at every level, in a free, independent and democratic Afghanistan.
In July last year, the 122-member Afghan Youth Parliament was established, with the assistance of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the first session was opened by the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Pernille Dahler Kardel, and addressed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. This has been a great exercise for our youth to familiarize themselves with the mechanics of a pluralistic democracy and to discuss a broad range of issues from health to education and jobs. In July this year, the Afghan Youth Parliament held another session, with the support of the Upper House of the Afghan Parliament and the United Nations Population Fund, and its recommendations will be shared with Government officials and will be discussed in the two houses of the Afghan Parliament.
Afghanistan, supported by our international partners, has made countless efforts over the past sixteen years to tackle youth-related problems, most and foremost the issue of education: Over the past ten years, the literacy rate has increased to 40%, with thousands of schools and 150 public and private universities providing education. We seek to invest as much as possible to accomplish Sustainable Development Goal 4, “Quality Education”. Other areas of youth-related activities are tackling child marriage, unemployment, gender inequality, violence, radicalization, drugs, and the dangerous travels of young people undertaken as migrants, to seek better opportunities abroad.
In this context, let me also mention again the excellent high-level discussion on migration organized by the OSCE and IOM on Monday this week. Afghanistan suffers when young educated people leave our country. Following decades of war and conflict, the ensuing brain drain only adds to the many other challenges and impedes our efforts towards reconstruction and development. Nonetheless, we will always protect the dignity and well-being of all Afghan citizens abroad, especially young people and other vulnerable groups.
Our young people are our most valuable asset and our future, our only future and we will not spare a single effort to enable them to contribute to peace, stability, development and democracy in Afghanistan. Much has been achieved but much also remains to be done. To accomplish our goals, we will need the continued assistance of our international partners and I call on our partners here around this table to provide additional scholarships and fellowships for Afghan students. The Government of Afghanistan will also work to provide better opportunities for our young people, through increased foreign investments, trade and commerce, in our region and beyond.