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The New Generation of Diplomats

By Aisha Khurram

We have always been fascinated by dreams, dreams of having a better world, without evil and hatred, where everyone has a place, where there are plenty of opportunities for development and growth, a world where there’s food to eat, air to breath and place to sleep for everyone. Yet we are caught up in a world where getting an education can sometimes seem like a luxury for an entire generation of children and youth that are just trying to survive and endless war, a world where few who had the privilege to get the right education are striving to build a future in which solidarity and justice triumphs nationalism, and greed.

The current era of globalization is slowly being dismantled by the rise of populist, nationalist and raciest governments in all around the world.

2020 will probably be filled with some major changes that the world tried to avoid for 75 years now, international relations and global cooperation seems to be getting uncertain and unstable. The lack of high level cooperation between super powers are causing more damage to the future of United Nations and our shared global community. 2020 seems like a year of political disappointment, but what actually lies ahead for our generation and the global community?

Since I’ve been selected as the Afghan Youth representative to the united nations, I’ve got the opportunity to speak to countless numbers of youth from all across the country, what I found was that our young people are not so optimistic about their future or the future of our shared global community. In fact I recently had an opportunity to speak at the United Nations Security Council and meet UN diplomats, while we were discussing about Afghan youth’s situation and challenges, I found out that the future and effectiveness of the UN and global cooperation is now facing more challenges than ever before. National interests supersede human rights, populism supersede honesty and isolated nations supersede United Nations.

One thing we all have to bear in mind is that, we can’t obtain a just, humane and peaceful future in a world of borders and walls, extrication and disengagement will only weaken us in front of global challenges that affect us all equally.

Instead 2020 should be the year for us to tear down barriers and borders that separate humankind from each other, and failure to act immediately would require much more costly actions down the road.

The possibility of facing another worldwide humanitarian crisis should not be accepted passively, but need to be met by united action and this require diplomatic approach to ensure the persistence of global order and existence of the United Nations.

A better world demand better citizens and most importantly better diplomats who will eventually connect different nations, cultures and people.

As per my observation an effective diplomacy will prevent many global crises from happening. For decades Afghanistan’s efforts for joining the caravan of the international community has been coupled with confusion, waste and deficiency. Now the future of Afghanistan’s performance and presence at international platforms largely depends on the performance of our future diplomats.

As a diplomacy student who had been able to visit and speak at one of the most prestigious diplomatic platforms, I can say that diplomacy is more profound and practical than it is actually perceived by many diplomacy students in Afghanistan.

Knowledge of history, area studies and staying up to date with the ongoing international affairs alone, aren’t sufficient for a diplomacy student in a rapid changing world.

Right now academies are training more towards traditional curriculum while neglecting the innovative aspects of diplomacy, like the use of social media, online representation, networking, simulation of crisis scenarios and practical lessons while we also need to focus on traditional diplomatic skills such as, verbal and written communication skills, leadership, critical thinking, negotiating, policy making and cross culture communication skills.

Despite many challenges that Afghan students are facing right now, we still have few opportunities around us that we have to utilize.

One of the techniques that increased my interest and knowledge about international relations and politics has been model united nations conferences. I’ve been attending and organizing model united nations conferences for the past few years which I could see its impact on my representation and performance at the UN itself.

We have such kind of opportunities available in the capital city Kabul and some provinces around the country which I believe are the best opportunities for diplomacy students to simulate crisis scenarios, develop a profound understanding of international relations, learn new skills and make a network of like-minded young people. Young diplomats need more of these opportunities both in national and international levels not only to learn leadership, teamwork and public speaking skills but to learn cross-culture communication and discover the profound meaning of global citizenship.

It is important more than ever, to bridge the growing gap between people, we need platforms to build people to people connection much stronger than before.

Beside scenario building simulation exercises our young diplomats need to learn diplomatic reporting skill, which I found of extreme importance during my visit to UN. Diplomatic reporting need to be distinguished from journalistic reporting, diplomatic reports need to get under the skin of an issue, giving policy makers the depth of understanding, it need to be timely, thoughtful and analytical knowledge of an event or situation.

For many of my fellow university students it might be very difficult to move forward with global advancements while facing allot of difficulties and challenges both in their personal and professional life, and it’s absolutely normal to feel small and insignificant in front of numerous challenges, but we are mindful of our responsibilities, new expectations are rising, we are expected to be a force for good, we are expected to be global citizens while being honest patriots. We have to stop being scared of the future, we have to stop being scared of each other. We need to show the world that the present generation in the honor of its ancestors, in the honor of every victim of this ruthless conflict and in the honor of the future generation that are yet to be born, strive to create a world that is protected by peace, that is bridged by people, that is connected by culture and shared by humanity. We all need to realize our part to shape our common future by our shared values. We simply need to begin with imagination, we need to imagine what our country and world could look like, if we use this time of crisis as the humanity’s most unifying moment.

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