Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines
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Youth Department

What is it?

The Youth Department of the AzCBL refers to our team of young volunteers who devote their time towards advocacy work for the Mine Ban Treaty, raising public awareness on landmine issues, assisting with research and supporting mine victims.

In the past, our volunteers have been involved in research, translation, journalism, seminars and training sessions.  We hope to enlarge our youth department so that the youth movement to ban landmines will grow in momentum in Azerbaijan.

Why Youth?

Youth suffer because of landmines.  Up to 30% of mine victims around the world each year are youth under 15.  In Azerbaijan, more specifically, in the year 2005, alone, 65 people became mine victims and 28 of these were children or youth.

Youth can also do something about the problem – and they are.  Youth are playing an important part in Mine Ban movements around the world. (See the ICBL and Mines Action Canada websites for examples)

Youth have energy, skills, new ideas, and a passion to create change that have great power to fuel this movement and make it more effective.

Perhaps most importantly, youth are the future!  While this may seem to be simply a trite saying, it is true that the next generation inherits the problems that remain from past wars and conflicts.  And indeed, Azerbaijan’s youth are living in a country deeply scarred by war and still struggling with conflict.  Thus, this population needs to engage in finding solutions to these situations and preventing such occurrences from happening in the future.

The first steps to peace are made by each individual – each of us must commit to making a better world.  If the new generation cannot commit to peace, how can we expect wars to ever end?


Recent Highlights from the Youth Department


Disarm Film Screening
On January 21st, the Youth Department of the AzCBL held a film screening and seminar for local university students at the US-Azerbaijan Education Centre.  Disarm, the 2004 documentary film on the global landmine issue was shown to inform students about the effects of landmines around the world and the success of the global movement to address the problem.  Following the film, one of the AzCBL volunteers provided students with a presentation of the landmine problem specifically in Azerbaijan which was followed by an active question and discussion period.

'In Our Lifetime' International Youth Symposium 2005, Zagreb, Croatia


Youth journalist, Jeyran Bayramova, interviewing Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate, Jody Williams.

Mines Action Canada invited a delegate from Azerbaijan to participate in its International Youth Symposium in Zagreb, Croatia from November 27th to December 3rd.  Jeyran Bayramova, a young journalist and volunteer with the AzCBL took part in this symposium, which aims to engage and mobilize young people in the movement to ban landmines by providing them with the information and
advocacy skills needed to promote the campaign in their home countries.

Aside from taking part in workshop sessions, as a journalist, Bayramova was also active throughout the week, meeting with delegates taking part in the 6th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (occurring simultaneously in Zagreb).  Bayramova held interviews with a number of delegates, including Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate, Jody Williams, ICBL advocacy director, Sylvie Brigot, ICBL campaigners from the former Soviet Union region and Geneva Call’s Elizabeth Reusse-Decrey.  Greatly contributing to the AzCBL’s campaign efforts, three articles by Bayramova, based on these interviews and the 6th Meeting of States Parties were published in Zerkalo, a widely read and highly regarded Baku newspaper.


Youth Against Landmines Seminar - US-Azerbaijan Education Centre

On November 12th, the AzCBL Youth Department held a seminar at the U.S.-Azerbaijan Education Centre.  Alumni of the FSA/Flex US Study-Abroad program were invited to attend, as well as Baku university students in general.  Hafiz Safikhanov provided participants with background information about the landmine problem in Azerbaijan, the Ottawa Treaty, the work of the AzCBL and other efforts being made to solve the problem.  The importance of youth involvement in mine action was addressed by Kendrah Jespersen of Mines Action Canada.  In addition, Azeri youth volunteers, Shahla Mammedova and Farida Ahmedova spoke about their past experiences in mine action, and particularly, their participation earlier this year in the Regional Capacity Building Workshop for youth from the Former Soviet Union. 

Youth volunteer, Shahla Mammedova, speaking about her experience taking part in the Youth Regional Capacity Building Workshop.

While only a small group of youth attended the seminar, their interest in the topic was high and participants actively engaged in discussion and asked many questions.  The seminar closed with a brainstorming session about effective youth initiatives in mine action in Azerbaijan.  Two individuals expressed interest in future volunteer opportunities with the AzCBL.

Youth Against Landmines Seminar - Khazar University

On September 28th, 2005, the AzCBL held a seminar for students at Khazar University. 
 
Hafiz, Safikhanov, the director of the AzCBL began the seminar by informing students about the landmine problem in Azerbaijan and around the world, the work of the AzCBL, and the international Mine Ban Treaty and what it is accomplishing. 
 
Following this, Kendrah Jespersen, an intern working with the AzCBL from Mines Action Canada, provided a presentation on youth engagement in the movement to ban landmines.  Students were informed about youth campaigns around the world and given examples of what young people are doing to stop the use of landmines.  The importance of youth involvement and ideas for youth activities in the campaign were discussed.







Finally, the students were invited to join the movement themselves, whether through volunteering with the AzCBL, starting their own mine action initiatives, signing the Youth Against War Treaty, or simply telling others about what they learned.  Questions followed regarding the Azerbaijan joining the Mine Ban Treaty, similar youth activities in Armenia and about opportunities for students to take part in more detailed seminars and attend international workshops to gain training and skills. 

Approximately 30 students attended and the seminar was well received.  Following the seminar, fifteen students signed a statement expressing their concern about Azerbaijan’s landmine problem and their belief that Azerbaijan should join the Mine Ban Treaty and stop the terrible humanitarian destruction caused by landmines in this country.


Regional Youth Capacity-Building Workshop - Moscow, Russia

In February, 2005, three young people from the AzCBL’s youth department took part in the Regional Youth Capacity-Building Workshop in Moscow along with youth from eight other countries in the Former Soviet Union region. 
 
Youth took part in capacity-building and skill-development workshops and seminars on mine issues and mine action. 
 
Through the workshop, youth also had the opportunity to establish informal networks for regional youth cooperation and to develop project plans.