Introduction

Afghan Youth Representative to the UN (AYR-UN) is a year-long program, which was launched by Afghans for Progressive Thinking (APT) in 2018. The program, in light of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), will provide leadership opportunities to one young Afghan every year by enabling him/her to act as an ambassador of peace who can influence policies on the national and global levels. As the representative of the young generation, the youth representative will advocate for youth’s rights and raise their voices and challenges on national and international platforms and open up opportunities that will pave the way for the future development of Afghanistan’s youth. The UNAMA in Afghanistan and the Ministry of Foreign affairs have supported this program since 2018.

Why is the program important?

Young people need to speak for themselves. They need to decide their own future. Afghan society is hierarchical where the younger is always expected to listen and follow what the older says without questioning. This culture discourages initiation, problem-solving, and confidence in the largest segment of Afghan society. The Afghan youth Representative to the UN (AYR-UN) challenges the notion that youth cannot lead and introduces great potential in Afghan youth to both Afghans and the global community. It is a unique opportunity for Afghan youth to advocate for the change they wish to see in Afghanistan and claim their leadership rights in Afghanistan. Youth are normally seen as “victims” or “perpetrators” of the war in Afghanistan who need to be saved. This program challenges this common misunderstanding and instead posits that Afghan youth are active participants in war and peace and their potential can be directed by themselves toward a prosperous country. This program proves in action that youth are key players who will positively contribute to peace and security – a role that has been recognized by the United Nations Security Council with the adoption of Resolution 2250 (Youth, Peace, Security) in 2015 and Resolution 2429 in 2016. Furthermore, the AYR Program Is not only an important initiative at this pivotal juncture of the country, but a milestone to influence the policies and the current peace process that would benefit not only the young generation but lead this country toward Peace, Security and Economic development. The delegate will take the message of Afghan youth to The UN Security Council/General Assembly that Afghans want an end to the war now, and they want freedom, human rights and youth’s inclusion in deciding the future of their country from now on. The Representative will also paint a different picture of Afghanistan in front of the global community, showing it that Afghans, including young men and women, strive for peace, and that women in the country have many achievements when it comes to education, business, sports, and the arts. In other words, this new generation is a partner to the international community and strives for achieving peace.

Who were the previous Afghan Youth Representatives to the United Nations?

In 2018, through a rigorous competition and selection process among dozens of youth applicants who competed in public speaking events, Ramiz Bakhtiar was select as the First-Ever Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations (AYR-UN). On September 17, 2018. Ramiz Bakhtiar addressed the United Nations Security Council, whose words were covered by international media.

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2018 Selection Round Video

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2018 UNSC Speech Video

In 2019, through a rigorous competition and selection process, among dozens of applicants, Ms. Aisha Khurram, a student of Kabul University won the nomination and became the 2019 Afghan Youth Representative to the UN (AYR-UN). On December 16, 2020, Ms. Khurram delivered a remarkable speech at the UN Security Council that reflected the will, capabilities, and desires of her generation.

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2019 Selection Round Video

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2019 UNSC Speech Video

In 2020, through a rigorous competition and selection process among dozens of applicants, Ms. Shkula Zadran won the final round and became the 2020 Afghan Youth Representative to the UN (AYR-UN). Ms. Zadran briefed the security council on December 17th after engaging and meeting with hundreds of youth from across Afghanistan. In her speech, Shkula represented a generation who have been the main victim of this war and spoke of how Afghan youth’s dreams are being buried every day. She called for an end to the brutal war in Afghanistan.

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2020 Selection Round Video

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2020 UNSC Speech Video

“Young people in my country need more of these opportunities as providing such platforms and opportunities can build a community of young visionaries and responsible leaders. I strongly believe that the only way to elevate the efficiency of our political system is to train the younger generation of Afghanistan with practical experiences, encourage them to voice their opinions, embrace diversity and work for humanity. This wouldn't be possible without APT and the German embassy that strives to provide exceptional and priceless experiences for a lifetime. Today, dead hopes are revived, dreams are realized and hidden talents are showcased to the world. Indeed, these are the first steps towards a generational change!”
Aisha Khurram
“Through this program, I realized that there are many talented youths who have a very deep understanding of the issues but they might not have similar opportunities and privileges that I enjoy. I have traveled to many provinces which was a great experience. Through this program, I was humbled. I have felt the pain and problems that people are going through. I feel extremely proud to be the voice of my people and I will carry this honor for the rest of my life. I am grateful to APT and the German Embassy in Kabul for providing me with this opportunity. Indeed, it has helped me to thrive professionally, improve my knowledge and confidence, strengthen my networking and communication, and most importantly it enabled and honored me to be the voice of young generation in such a sensitive era of time."
Shkla Zadran

How will be the 2021 Afghan Youth Representative selected?

APT will open a call for applications, which will run for over a month. Active youth between the ages of 18-29 from across the country can apply. The selection committee will review the applications and will shortlist the best applicants based on the criteria. The shortlisted candidates will go through in-person interviews and will take written tests. After the round of interviews, the finalists will be selected to attend the final round of selection. The finalists will have to attend a public speaking competition and present his/her speech. Finally, a panel of experts will select 2021 Afghan youth Representative (AYR).