The Queen is never late, everybody else is simply early.

Apologies for the extremely late post, but I was busy saving the world with UN so cut me some slack guys. jk.

  1. Here’s the second assignment on the conference.

Investing in the Future We Want: Global Conference

This was the first conference for Team YSEALI who were given the opportunity by UNO to attend the 38th Annual Global Studies Conference. The theme of this forum was ‘Rethinking Global Security: Emerging Threats and Challenges’. This was on par with our YSEALI subject matter; civic engagement. I was stoked to sit through all the talks labeled on the progamme handout, however time allowed only five talks and now to reflect on one.

Before dwelling into my reflection, I would like to give credit where it’s due. In this case, my admiration goes out to Mr. Gregory Feifer, who has extensive credentials on his writings and publications covering Russia’s resurgence under Vladimir Putin and many more along the same line. The former, actually came out in the open criticizing one of the most powerful leader in the world, calling the president a pariah and still wanting the world to know the Anti-Putin movement he has endorsed. I found his speech not only sound but extremely informative as most Russian-based info(s) are often gate-kept by the media due to its sensitivity. But as a Journalism student, I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Mr. Feifer over lunch when we touched on a heated subject; the downing of MH17 hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine killing 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. Mind you, this is an ongoing debate between the Malaysian government and Russian government, as the latter refuse to take accountability for the mentioned massacre.

I had to!
I had to!

As a United Nations enthusiast and a loyal employee, I would like to express my views on Fahima Amini’s presentation entitled ‘How the Financial Insecurity of the Youth in Afghan Impacts International Insecurity’. Having read various UN materials, the active terror functioning in Afghan is an ongoing issue which was also taken into the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The 2015 MDG touched on several issues such as;

  • Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Global partnership and development

Out of the 8 goals, seems to me like 5 of it simultaneously fits into Amini’s concerns of the Afghan youth. She touched on the issues pertaining to poverty and unemployment. This is due to the adaptation of an extremism lifestyle. Kids in Afghan are constantly being trafficked (if I may) into the Digital Outreach Programme by ISIS, and we are looking at figures touching to 20,000 from 100 countries with the help of other terrorism groups such as Mujahideen and Al-Qaeda. It is disheartening to know kids our age who have rights to all the highlighted agendas as above are being insinuated with terrorism, guns, war, and bloodshed thoughts in order to constantly stay provoked. As if this repercussions aren’t enough, a UN Report made regarding the Opium production in Afghan as quoted by the panelist, suggested that the Global Drug Trade is equivalent to USD$ 321.6 billion. All of which does not go to the aid of the needy instead is used to further increase drug and warlord activities.

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The proposed solution to achieve a drug-free state most importantly, was by having the community partake into this problems. I had to agree with Amini that religious leaders, civil society and NGOs play a crucial role as we are the grassroots of every nation. By building a hub to help the youth, we could possibly combat youth unemployment, trafficking and prevent the youth affiliation on the insurgency. Secondly, the speaker suggested to increase military expertise. However, I do not agree on this as it only further affirms that we endorse violence instead of civil reasoning. These fragmentation of youth in Afghan can be further mitigated by providing education. I believe in Nelson Mandela’s quote, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon’ and in this case no pun intended. Scholarships, vocational training and good governance will do much difference.

As for economic benefits, Afghan should explore their agricultural, livestock and work on their infrastructures to equip all the mentioned above. Mineral exploitation is probably the best; that way we could trade opium for saffron production which does more good than harm any day.

In this photograph taken on November 18, 2014, Afghan workers pick saffron flowers in the Ghoriyan District of Herat. Saffron cultivation needs lots of land and a lot of labour, but the world's most expensive spice might be an economic lifeline for Afghanistan with international financial support set to fall in the coming years. In Herat, about 6,000 people -- 4,000 of them women -- are employed in saffron farming on 800 acres (325 hectares) of land, with the product exported to India, Europe, the United States and China. AFP PHOTO / Aref KARIMI
AFP PHOTO / Aref KARIMI

Finally, the speaker ended her panel by pointing out that the root cause of these evils are bad governing. That I adhere to, as I believe the most powerful association should always lead wisely. In this case, it’s evident that corruption is affecting the youth in Afghan as they are the most vulnerable. Funny enough, right after Amini’s presentation, I went for Elizabeth Dvorak Little’s panel, as she was the Advisor to the Afghan Government, who works on policing and accountability issues. She summed up my thoughts pretty well, concluding that ‘carrot and stick’ diplomacy should be endorsed when dealing with the Afghan government, that’s the only way to stay engage yet achieve our political game.

To sound a little like my Professor, where does this bring us then? Food for thought?

2. Here’s the third assignment on Role Play: Funding

When life gives you millions, you give back the millions! (Only because I am bad with Maths)

Role plays are meant to be imaginative, however with the group of 7 I was placed with, it seemed like all of us empathized more on the goals and mission of our (visionary) Better World Foundation as I guess we are all molded as peacekeepers of ASEAN. Given the fact that we could have chosen any form of principles to mitigate or help on was definitely a point which got us all to ponder. Coming from various humble backgrounds, and having seen many downs of the civilization it was indeed difficult to choose particularly one facet for the betterment of everyone.

Besides, having given a precise timing to deliberate on was arduous as it shows how delicate it is to make decisions as a leader. This further brought the group to another predicament which was tied financially to our foundation. A total of $50 million was given to us, which was then broken down to a $2.5million yearly budget. The decision on the amount to be spent let us to various other repercussions such as percentage and analytical skills of our funding. This would definitely be my weakness, as I swear upon language and not Maths per say.

However, if you were to ask me what was the most fun part of this visionary ‘Let’s Save The World’ escapade, I would definitely say how the whole group made instantaneous decision on the 5W1H category and came up with a solid base for our project. We managed to not only break down the financial expenditures of our NGO but also connect important civic issues in each of our countries. I bet it got all of thinking on out action plan hereafter.

As someone who have always run from anything close to numbers, this exercise got me thinking about the whole funding process of my future projects. Safe to say, it definitely gave me an insight on the pros and cons of an NGO. It is true, even if I do work for an NGO or a government-linked company or a multi-national company, I would still need to know the basics of funding which is the core to developing a foundation as it keeps not only the employees but everyone involved to get going.

 Jayne, Malaysia.

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