Abu Dhabi, 5 May 2014 - Sixteen participants from Afghanistan, belonging to the Ministries of Finance, Economy, Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President, began classes within the framework of the second session of the joint UNITAR-Graduate Institute Executive Master’s Degree programme in Development Policies and Practices 2014-2015 edition.

The launch of the programme took place on 2 May 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Abu Dhabi, beginning with an orientation class delivered by Dr. Alexandre Freire, Director of Executive Education at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Students, including 4 Afghan women candidates were also welcomed by Dr. Matteo Guidotti, the Academic Coordinator of the Development Policies and Practices Degree Programme at the Graduate Institute.

Mr. Musa Kamawi, the Director of Human Resources at the Ministry of Finance thanked UNITAR and the Graduate Institute for their support and encouraged participants to make the most of the opportunity to pursue post-graduate studies under the auspices of the United Nations and with the academic quality of the prestigious Graduate Institute. UNITAR Specialist, Ms. Ima Ebong conveyed a message from the UNITAR’s Executive Director, Sally Fegan-Wyles, warmly congratulating the group for their selection and expressing her admiration for the student’s willingness to combine academic study with their busy professional schedules.

Mr. Alex Mejia, Manager of the Decentralized Cooperation Programme at UNITAR, delivered a lecture and explained the United Nations System to the graduate students on 6 May 2014. He explained that this initiative was conceived on the request of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, in Tokyo during the Afghan Donors Conference that took place late 2012. He also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese Government for the financial support that made this Masters Programme possible.

Participants also made brief presentations of their proposed thesis topics, which covered a wide range of subject areas including gender, tax policy, agriculture, customs reform and aid coordination and effectiveness. The thesis required for graduation must be relevant for the post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan and should also be presented to the relevant Afghan institutions before graduation.