Strategies for Peace and Good Governance in Afghanistan, January 10th 2024
Afghan Peace Dialogue and Universal Peace Federation
43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA and Online
Afghan Peace Dialogue and Universal Peace Federation (UPF) were partners in an event discussing 'Strategies for Peace and Good Governance in Afghanistan' on January 10th, 2024, in the London UPF – UK HQ. The purpose was to examine the situation in Afghanistan following the overthrow of the government and the emergence of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. Following the agenda of the Afghan Peace Dialogue, the aim is to study the future of the country, establish international relations for the future government, to establish a legitimate and inclusive state in Afghanistan, and develop the necessary collaborations at the international level.
The Afghan Peace Dialogue (APD) and the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) have been forging a meaningful collaboration aimed at fostering dialogue and finding other strategies for peace and development among the diaspora groups constituting the key communities of Afghanistan. This collaborative effort recently unfolded at the UPF's UK headquarters in Lancaster Gate during a conference on January 10th. Mr. Reza Jafari: President of the Afghanistan Peace Dialogue Movement who has partnered with UPF in prior conferences in Vienna and Paris, extended invitations to several UK-based Afghan representatives. The event commenced with a planning meeting, followed by a conference addressing the imperative for such collaborative endeavors and exploring potential modalities for effective cooperation.
Mr. Umberto Angelucci: Chair of UPF Middle East and President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) Middle East, shared a compelling account of his seven-year life in Afghanistan. His passionate narrative resonated with the audience, shedding light on the challenging experiences he and his wife encountered, that sadly were not uncommon for those in the audience.
Ambassador Mme Shukria Barakzai, former Afghanistan Ambassador to Norway, was honored as an Ambassador for Peace of UPF during the program. Her impactful speech, particularly focusing on the rights of women and the shifts observed over the 20 years of governance in cooperation with international forces, struck a chord with the audience as she reflected on the stark contrast following the recent transition of power to the Taliban government.
Key UPF Representatives: The event saw the participation of significant UPF figures, underlining the organization's dedication to the conference and future collaborative initiatives. David Fraser Harris, the UPF Middle East Secretary-General, served as the Master of Ceremonies, while Mr. Jacques Marion: Co-Chair of Universal Peace Federation - Europe and the Middle East, as well as Mr. Keith Best TD MA: Chair of UPF UK as well as a former MP, reinforced the serious intent of the Universal Peace Federation in promoting peaceful dialogue between the communities that comprise Afghanistan.
Commitment to Dialogue: Dr. Michael Balcomb: President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification – Europe and the Middle East and Dr. Rahela Kaveer, President of the World Hazara Council, further symbolized the commitment to Afghanistan's future. Despite recent health challenges, Reza Jafari's attendance, along with Dr. Kaveer flying from the USA, highlighted the collective commitment to the crucial work of fostering dialogue among the diaspora communities.
Interactive Session: The conference included an engaging panel discussion, including Ms. Farzana Adell, (Masters student), Reza Jafari; Dr. Rahela Kaveer, Jacques Marion and Ambassador Mme Shukria Barakzai who responded to questions from both the audience and the attending media, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and perspectives.
The Lancaster Gate conference served as a pivotal moment in advancing collaborative dialogue for Afghan peace, bringing together diverse voices, experiences, and commitments in a shared effort to contribute positively to the nation's future.
The programme ran as follows. (Click on the titles to see the video.)
Moderator: Mr. David Fraser Harris, Secretary General UPF Middle East
Welcome Message: Mr. Robin Marsh, Secretary General UPF – UK
Greetings by Dr. Michael Balcomb: President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification – Europe and the Middle East
Introduction of Mr. Reza Jafari by Mr. Patrick Jouan
‘Introduction to Universal Peace Federation’
Questions from the floor – in-person and online
Concluding Remarks: Mr. Reza Jafari
More photos can be seen here
- a) Why was the conference held?
- The conference aimed to introduce Afghan Peace Dialogue, its activities, and its future. It was also meant to analyse the current situation in Afghanistan and discuss its prospects. The exchanges during the conference shed some light on the current critical situation in Afghanistan and how it affects certain groups of people like women and ethnic and religious communities particularly hard. The conference also engaged in rich and fruitful discussions around ways that people of Afghanistan, especially those among the diaspora, can be mobilised to work for peace in Afghanistan.
- b) What did the organisers present in the conference for future prospects?
- The organisers presented what Afghan Peace Dialogue envisions for peace in Afghanistan. They also explained how Afghan Peace Dialogue can play a constructive role in creating networks among the diaspora as well as mobilising political parties, CSOs, and the diaspora to work for peace. The broader vision involved engaging in direct talks with the Taliban based on values like human rights, a constitution, democracy, and democratic elections, with the international community playing a constructive role under international law. Afghan Peace Dialogue expressed support for recent United Nations recommendations, despite reservations about human rights violations and negotiation processes. The vision includes establishing a broad-based government with a division of power and inclusive state institutions.
- c) What concerns were raised?
- Participants expressed concerns that peace efforts should not compromise justice and highlighted the risks to certain gender, ethnic, and religious communities. They discussed the importance of including these communities in peace dialogues and protecting their rights and participation. Concerns about the Taliban's acceptance internationally as the sole option in Afghanistan and the challenges of engaging with remote communities were also raised.
- d) What are the next steps?
- The organisers hope the conference serves as a starting point for dialogue within and between different groups in Afghanistan. They discussed the need for a structured mechanism, resources, and future conferences with international political entities to achieve peace without political and military interference.