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Poorly Calculated Peace Is More Expensive Than War


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN


Swiss UMEF organised, at its Geneva campus, a conference on Negotiations for Peace in Afghanistan. Several experts attended together with representatives of some of the countries of the region and members of the diaspora in several European countries.


The objective of this conference was to obtain, in a neutral manner, the opinion of the participants on the peace process and present them to stakeholders and parties such as supranational institutions, research centers and other interested parties.


The first panel dealt with security and peace and it was concluded that peace would only be secured if all the countries in the region would cooperate and guarantee this process. Among the various issues that need to be defined is the role of the Afghan government in this process, particularly in view of the forthcoming presidential elections, how human rights and in particular the rights of women will be guaranteed, what will be the procedure to collect the weapons held by the various armed groups and the destruction of these weapons, and how will combatants be reintegrated in civil life to avoid their being tempted to join other rebel or terrorist groups. These issues, in particular the disarmament process, should be included in the peace negotiations and reference was made to the process recommended by UN Secretatry General Kofi Annan.


A representative of the European Union for Humanitarian Affairs described the contribution made in Afghanistan, in particular for the safeguard of human rights. The refugee problem is an important issue particularly as Europe is a close neighbour and is directly involved in this problem.


The second panel dealt with the importance of involving the population and obtaining their advice while so far the international community has mostly supported war lords and other leaders rather than attempting to understand the needs of the population. Drug production and trade should also be curtailed significantly.


There appears to have been little preparation for the complex negotiations taking place between the US government and the Taliban. Doubts were raised as to the prepartion of both parties for a conclusion. Rapidly concluded negotiations may not lead to sustainable peace. Peace in Afghanistan requires first of all an identification of the principal causes. Professor Sangdel divided the peace process into three parts: A, B and C, and the US should take these into consideration to obtain peace in Afghanistan and in the world.


The A process requires the United States to understand certain realities taking place in the world and, in particular, in the region with powers such as China and Russia. These two countries should be involved in the peace process and share the same vision as the US.


The B process requires the United States to convince other countries that are stakeholders such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc, that peace in the region is essential and that they will not use Afghanistan in their geo-startegic game.


The C process requires the United States to have a holistic view of the situation rather than consider each group separately. As the United States has a major say in Afghanistan, it must create an environment leading to a consensual form of negotiation with all stakeholders as in the past, but with the interest of peace in mind.

The reliance of the Afghan government on the Loya Jirga should be reduced and rather consult a forum with experts on economy, politics, geo-politics of the region and globally. The traditional Loya Jirga is not the best instrument to understand and make recommandations on some of the major issues, particularly issues with an international impact. The young generation and women should be involved.


Unless all stakeholders are involved, sustainable peace in Afghanistan, in the region and in the world will be difficult to achieve.


The financial sustainability of the government must also be taken into account particularly as the government budget has important limitations.


The United States should be transparent in its relations with Pakistan as a large part of the instability in the region, as mentioned rightly by the US, is due to Pakistan which harbours the Taliban and other terrorist groups.


The UN and the EU should also be involved in these negotiations and their aftermath to avoid a repetition of past mistakes.


All stakeholders in Afghanistan, government, political parties and the Taliban, must share a common view relayed to the United States so as to ensure a sustainable peace.


The third panel centered on economic issues and in particular past decisions that destroyed infrastructure and that the present government should learn from the past and that the international powers and the NGOs should learn from the events that led to the 1992 civil war which was extremely costly in infrastructure destruction and in the cost of lives. Thus, the present peace process must not underestimate these types of facts as the country today is in an even more sensitive situation than in 1992.


A review of the economic situation put forward the lack of infrastructure particularly for the development of the extremely rich natural resources that are estimated to be as high as $3 trillion. It is important for industry and investors to be involved in the peace process as their investments will be crucial to job creation, a key factor in sustainable peace and as a barrier to immigration and the brain drain. Experience in South Africa has shown that behind the scenes discussions involving mining and industrial firms was crucial in ensuring the transition from an apartheid state to the present system.


Conclusion

All participants insisted on the following points:

  • stakeholders should not hurry for the sake of a rapid peace without taking into account major elements

  • the United States should not concentrate solely on negotiations with the Taliban but also consider the important role of the other countries in the region

  • the various Afghan stakeholders must agree on a common front in the peace negotiations, including the government, the political parties and the Taliban

  • disarmament and reintegration into civil life of the Taliban must be a priority

  • investors and the economic world must be part of the peace process

  • the Loya Jirga must be organised with experts rather than traditional chiefs

  • the role of the EU and the UN should be clarified and encouraged

  • the international community must act as guarnantor of peace in Afghanistan

  • there must be adequate consideration given to the financial situation once peace is declared, and in particular how the government budget will be funded

  • a mechanism should be put in place for election results to be transparent and accepted by all candidates once they are announced

  • a mechanism should be put in place to fund infrastructure and the development of natural resources. Funds must be used for further development and industrialisation of the country.


- Mr Marc Finaud

- Mr Eric Walberg

- Ms Gabrielle Rifkind

- Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic

- Mr Malek Sitez

- Prof. Djawed SANGDEL

- Prof. Michel AKERIB

- Prof. Gilles-Emmanuel JACQUET

- Mr Nadjibullah SHAFAQYAR

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