Participants of Peace Debate at Balkh University stand for the national anthum of Afghanistan. Photo: UNDP / 2021

On May 26, 2021, Balkh University conducted a successful Peace Debate involving 155 participants. This event included 72 female students from Jawzjan, Sari-Pul, Faryab, and Samangan, along with faculty members, representatives from civil society organizations, Ulama Council, local officials, media, youth representatives, and local women rights activists.

Debate sessions focused on six core aspects of the current peace process: local intiatives in the peace process, the role of social cohesion in promoting a culture of peace, public engagment during the political settlement process, reinforcement of the peace narrative, the role of debate in national dialogues for peace, and public expectations from the peace process.

The Balkh University Peace Debate followed two previous Peace Debates at Nangarhar and Herat Universities, which had been organized respectively in March and April of 2021.

“We appreciate and support conducting such programmes that engage young people, especially university students who are mainly affected by war. They are the group with stronger knowledge and innovative ways of ending war, and bringing peace and prosperity to the country,” said Gulam Farooq Khpalwak, Deputy Governor of Balkh province.

Peace Debates are being organized by the State Ministry for Peace at universities in the each of Afghanistan’s regions, as a means to support Afghanistan’s Peace Process and Reconciliation, with support from UNDP Afghanistan. Through participation in Peace Debates, youth enrich their advocacy skills while exchanging views on how Afghanistan’s Peace Process can lead to a more sustainable peace.

“Our main goal as the educated young generation is to strive towards fulfilling our peoples’ need for cultural, social and political peace. We are committed to engage in activities that help achieve sustainable peace for our country,” said Ali Asghar Amini, a Balk University student and Peace Debate participant.

At the conclusion of each Peace Debate, two out of each group of ten students (1 male and 1 female) are selected to participate in the National Debate Event held in Kabul in late spring, 2021. These groups will represent their respective different communities, women’ groups, religious and ethnic groups at the national level, ensuring that voices from across the country are heard and included in the peace process.

Young people are powerful actors of change in their communities. Peace Debates strengthen the culture of discourse and dialogue among Afghan youth, ensuring a more sustainable peace process.

These Peace Debates are part of an initiative by the State Ministry for Peace to foster public awareness of the ongoing Peace Process alongside strategic communications and outreach.

These initiatives are generously supported by the Governments of the United Stated of America and the United Kingdom. The project aims at strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan’s state institutions to engage in peace negotiations while drawing on relevant experience from other countries. UNDP Afghanistan’s focus in this project involves the development of domestic peace talks within Afghanistan, and development of programmes in support of a nationally led peace process and possible post-peace agreement phase.

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