Aug. 20, 2022

Liechtenstein Institute Founding Director Wolfgang Danspeckgruber convened a private, off-the-record hybrid colloquium from August 17-20, 2022 on Afghanistan and the region a year after the Taliban grabbed power, and the withdrawal of the United States and Western allies. The colloquium –  by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University (LISD) and the Liechtenstein Colloquium on European and International Affairs (vLCM)– convened physically and digitally in Triesenberg, Principality of Liechtenstein. It is the latest in a series of Afghan-related events undertaken by LISD since 2001.

At the meeting, Afghans, senior international experts, diplomatic representatives, businesspeople, and those representing the next generation worked towards finding new and feasible ideas to effectively assist the Afghan people. The private hybrid format fostered engaged, open conversation and a candid assessment of the relevant realities in Afghanistan and the region. In times of “international crisis exasperation” and numbness to suffering; a war of aggression against Ukraine with massive geopolitical ramifications; and a worrying financial, economic, and energy outlook for Europe and beyond; the international community cannot ignore the tragedies of Afghanistan. The issues facing the country must be realistically addressed, as Danspeckgruber argues, “by, for, and with the Afghans; with consideration and respect for their cultures and religions.”

The Afghan people have experienced over 40 consecutive years of conflict – Afghanistan was occupied by the USSR for 10 years, followed by Mujahideen warfare. After 9/11, the United States intervened with the UN Security Council and NATO’s Article V legitimization, and left in summer 2021.  Afghanistan now faces degrading conditions at the local, national, and regional levels, severe economic and humanitarian crises, and a fervent rule by an increasingly disunited Taliban. Women, girls, and minority ethnic groups are confronted with severe hardship and suppression. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are denied education. The Taliban is increasingly limiting education, diverting and hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid – and violating nearly all promises and commitments made to the people it purports to govern, as well as the international community. Nearly 20 million people face severe food insecurity, including three million children. The economy and financial sector are in a critical state. Additionally, the Taliban offers safe harbor to global terrorism and terrorists, including the leader of Al-Qaida, Aiman al-Zawahiri, who was killed in Kabul on July 31, 2022, in a drone strike. The country and region are also beset with major natural and environmental disasters – earthquakes, draughts, deforestation and overgrazing, and massive floods resulting from torrential rains – as well as competing power rivalries, and the effects of the Ukraine War.

Relevant results of the meeting will be released as a Chair’s Summary with the assent of participants.