- As part of its 20th anniversary, the UNITAR Hiroshima Office held a book launch of The UNITAR Hiroshima Fellowship for Afghanistan: An Anthology and a roundtable event on 28 June 2023.
- The book features the history, challenges and milestones of the Afghanistan Fellowship Programme.
- The event highlighted the significance of the programme in promoting knowledge and understanding over 15 years.
21 July 2023, Hiroshima, Japan – On 28 June 2023, UNITAR Hiroshima Office celebrated the publication of The UNITAR Hiroshima Fellowship for Afghanistan: An Anthology with a book launch and roundtable event. The event was part of the Hiroshima Office’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.
The book is a collection of writings on the history, challenges and achievements of the Afghanistan Fellowship Programme. The anthology was co-edited by Ms Nassrine Azimi, founding director of the UNITAR Hiroshima Office, and Ms Humaira Khan Kamal, the original team leader for the Fellowship.
With the unstinting support of Hiroshima Prefecture and other partners, the UNITAR Hiroshima Fellowship for Afghanistan trained more than 500 professionals from Afghanistan over 15 years. The programme started in 2003 – the same year the UNITAR Hiroshima Office was established. It ran in cycles of 9-12 months each, and every round of participants visited Hiroshima to experience first-hand the city’s history of reconstruction while developing their skills for social and organizational reform.
The roundtable welcomed participants from around the world, many of whom were directly involved with the Fellowship. They freely discussed the book, their personal experiences, and what they learned in the Programme.
UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNITAR Executive Director Mr Nikhil Seth opened the event via a video message.
The lessons UNITAR learned from the Fellowship, and applied in its other post-conflict work, are another testimony to the ongoing nature of our bonds with one another and with Afghanistan. This book and your gathering here today prove that Fellowship seeds planted are not lost and may yet surprise us in wonderful and unimagined ways. —Mr. Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNITAR Executive Director
Words from our alumni, faculty, staff and supporters
UNITAR welcomed the warm words from the roundtable participants:
Ms Khan-Kamal (co-editor of the book): “No mere capacity-building programme such as ours can prevent tragedy or misfortune, but the stories in this book demonstrate that mutual respect, empathy and community ownership of outcomes survive the great global games and continue to resonate in the individual lives of the community.”
Mr Michael Fors (core faculty member for the programme): “The Afghan Fellowship has left a lasting impression on all of us to this day.”
Mr Lorne Jaques (core faculty member): “The spirit of the Fellowship is the spirit of compañeros, which means ‘companions’ in Spanish.”
Ms Mariam Ghaznavi (trainee and later volunteer coach for the Fellowship) reminded all of the urgency of doing what can be done for today’s Afghanistan.
Dr Fawad Akbari (2009 Fellow): “The Afghan Fellowship did well by leveraging the capacity, the passion and the enthusiasm of coaches, mentors and resource persons.”
Ms Mihoko Kumamoto (Director, UNITAR Division for Prosperity and the Hiroshima Office): “The Fellowship offered a great model to enhance the capacity of people and organizations in a country.”
Ms Sharapiya Kakimova (UNITAR core team member) reminded everyone of the spirit of the Fellowship with the oft-quoted “The Pull of the Future is stronger than the push of the Past.”
Prof. Monte Cassim (member of the AFLP/BGNet* international advisory panel) quoted Churchill: “Failure is not fatal. Success is not final. It’s the courage to carry on that count.” He encouraged future activities of the AFLP/BGNet.
Mr Sabahuddin Sokout, a pillar of the Fellowship and UNITAR focal point in Afghanistan, explained Afghanistan’s current situation and the potential of botanical gardens and work with nature.
The roundtable ended with remarks by Ms Azimi, co-editor of the book.
We have now expanded the roots of the Fellowship, and we will continue, in some way, the work we started in this city more than 20 years ago.
- Session I: Book highlights/reflections: capturing the essence of the Fellowship
- Session II: Fellowship lessons learned … and applied
- Session III: Fellowship beyond Afghanistan – what lessons for UNITAR’s other post-conflict efforts? International development assistance, humanitarian aid or just military intervention?
- Session IV: The Other Legacy Project – Quo Vadis Botanical Gardens Network (BGNet)
About the Afghan Fellowship Legacy Projects (AFLP)
The Afghan Fellowship Legacy Projects (AFLP) is the brainchild of two friends and veterans of the UNITAR Hiroshima Fellowship for Afghanistan, Nassrine Azimi and Humaira Khan-Kamal. When, after its exceptional 15-year run, the Hiroshima Fellowship wrapped up, they felt that the alumni had many experiences to share, important stories to tell, and a unique network upon which to build future projects. The AFLP was thus established as a pro bono initiative within UNITAR’s Hiroshima Office. It currently consists of two legacy projects – a Botanical Gardens Network (BG-Net) campaign and a collective book and blog by the Afghanistan Fellowship community.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2021, UNITAR trained 370,139 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have offices in Hiroshima, New York and Bonn and networks around the world.
The Division for Prosperity is based in the Hiroshima Office and Geneva. We seek to shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world through world-class learning and knowledge-sharing services on entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and trade, digital technologies, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. We empower individuals from least-developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, and small-island developing states – especially women and young people – to bring about positive change.