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Jawad Saleh

Afghan student Jawad: ‘I believe that international law can lead a country towards development’

Published on 16-01-2023 14:02
The dark clouds of despair and distress took over Afghanistan in August 2021. The government of Afghanistan collapsed, along with the dreams and aspirations of the majority of Afghan students, of whom Ahmad Jawad Saleh was one. However, Jawad had the good fortune to leave the country for a Master’s in Amsterdam just before the occupation.
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‘I believe that international law can lead a country towards development’

Jawad always hoped for greater things for his homeland. To achieve stability, harmony, progress, and growth in Afghanistan, it was necessary for him to be equipped with a well-reputed higher education. Jawad believes in resolving conflicts in a diplomatic way through negotiations and peace talks. His focus directed him towards a Master’s programme in Public International Law at the UvA. ‘I have the privilege to study abroad and dream and plan a better future for my people; that is what keeps me going.’

As a citizen of Afghanistan, Jawad experienced how disconnected his country is from other countries. He thinks that international law will help Afghanistan achieve the rule of law. Jawad says: ‘I believe that international law leads a country towards development. It enables the country to connect, communicate, and solve disputes in a peaceful manner.’

‘An advantage of this Master’s programme is that you get a good social network’

Jawad wished to stay in his country and work but faced a scarcity of suitable programmes. In search of quality education and a public international law curriculum, he came across the LLM at the UvA. ‘The Amsterdam Law School has a great reputation and the best structured course programme’, according to Jawad. It’s a privilege for him as an Afghan citizen to get accepted to the Amsterdam Law School.

As an Afghan student, one of the advantages Jawad experiences is easy access to legal books, case laws, and materials. ‘It's inspiring, and it motivates me.’ Another advantage of this study is that you develop a good social network. ‘My classmates will end up with jobs in different international organizations. It will be great to have such a social network in the future.’

‘A bit of distraction’

One month after the arrival of Jawad in the Netherlands, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan. As a result, not just Jawad but the whole country fell into an economic crisis. Due to several external events affecting his life, Jawad was unable to pursue his education.

He looked for help within the UvA and found this with student counsellor Ans Rekers, Rosanne (coordinator of his Master’s programme, ed.) and other people at the Amsterdam Law School. He received financial and mental support to continue his education. Despite going through many problems in his life, he says: ‘It was a bit of distraction’ and added ‘I am not giving up’.

Jawad is extremely grateful to the Amsterdam Law School for its generous support and for allowing him to continue his education.

‘A huge cap in international law’

Jawad wants to write his thesis on environmental damage caused by war. He sees this as important to development and ‘a huge cap in international law’. His inspiration for this came from growing up in Afghanistan. Several decades of war not only destroyed cities, but also had an effect on the environment. Jawad saw nature coming back to life, but very slowly. This made him wonder who should be held responsible for the damage to the environment and nature. Even if the use of force is considered legal, there is still a wrong committed against the environment. Jawad: ‘What about the environmental damage that is caused when one country invades another? Even if the use of force was legal, how can a country be held responsible for such a wrongful act?’

Plan B: ‘Work for my country through academic research’

Jawad’s plan was to help his country by spreading awareness about international law and promoting the rule of law via the Ministry of Justice or Attorney General's Office, starting from his own province. Unfortunately, he cannot return to Afghanistan after completing his Master’s, but he is still willing to help and play his part. ‘For now, I know I have to work for my country from the outside, for example by doing academic research.’

In the far future, Jawad sees himself back in his country, sharing his legal knowledge and working shoulder to shoulder helping his fellow countrymen in the development of Afghanistan.