The Symposium on State-building efforts in Afghanistan, October 25, 2019

Summary of the Symposium on State-building efforts in Afghanistan, October 25, 2019 (578 words)

The symposium started with a welcome note by Prof. Adachi saying that 2019 was a historically important year for Afghanistan that held a presidential election in September 2019. Peace and democracy are a core educational philosophy at Ritsumeikan University that hosted the event.

The first keynote speaker H.E. Mrs. Adela Raz, Afghanistan ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations thanked Japan for its generous humanitarian assistance. She mentioned that 2015-2024 was termed a “transformation decade” in Afghanistan as the country aimed to achieve a level of self-reliance to stop depending on foreign aid and transform into an equal member of international community. Mrs. Raz emphasized the importance of regional cooperation platforms in enhancing connectivity of Afghanistan and stated major progress in providing essential healthcare service and reducing child mortality.

Next, H. E. Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto, a special representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mentioned progress achieved in the areas of electoral transparency, police reform, access to healthcare services, education of girls and women. The diplomat stressed the need for concluding a peace agreement with the Taliban to ensure respect for human rights and achieve sustainable socioeconomic growth. Other points emphasized by H.E. Mr. Yamamoto were the need for coordination among donor countries and inclusive participation in discussing issues of transitional justice and reintegration of former combatants to the society.

The first session was concluded by a brief Q&A with the keynote speakers and Mr. Shohei Hara, director of the South Asia department of the JICA who reiterated the importance of the triple nexus for the success of the transformation decade in Afghanistan. The questions related to the role of China in the peacebuilding and development process in Afghanistan and the “lost five years” for women’s education in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.

The second session involved a panel discussion with Dr. Haruyuki Shimada, Mr. Shohei Hara, Ms. Sahar Hamdard, Dr. Masanori Naito and Dr. Shinichi Mizuta. Prof. Shimada worked for JICA for over 20 years, including several years in Kabul. Now a professor at Ritsumeikan, he continues his research on Afghanistan. Ms. Hamdard studied in Japan for two years under the PEACE scholarship and is now a head of Engineering and architectural design authority in Kabul. She is grateful for the opportunity to study in Japan. Ms. Hamdard emphasized the importance of securing women’s rights, freedom of speech and media to build a pluralistic society. Prof. Naito shared his experience of inviting the Taliban representatives to the peace conference at Doshisha University. Dr. Mizuta argued there should be no gap between humanitarian aid and development efforts. Waiting for the peace agreement to be reached, the UN and other international organizations are actively preparing for that time and developing post-peace assistance plans. Mr. Hara talked about JICA’s involvement in Afghanistan and mentioned Dr. Nakamura from JICA who recently received an honor citizenship of Afghanistan for his irrigation project.

The Q&A session included questions about the internal process within the Taliban to end the war, parallels with Islamist groups in Somalia and ways to reach agreement without mediation of foreign countries, the role of Afghani women in the household and broader society.

The event was concluded by the closing remarks from H.E. Dr. Bashir Mohabbat, the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Japan saying that 2019 is also the 100th anniversary of restoration of Afghani independence. Once again, he thanked Japan for showing true friendship and belief in Afghani people.

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