The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD) at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs convened a review conference under the theme, “A New Vision for Afghanistan: By Afghans, with Afghans, for Afghans and Afghanistan,” on September 4-7, 2008 in Bonn/Petersberg, Germany. This was the tenth LISD-sponsored colloquium on Afghanistan since 2001. The meeting was funded in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the Stiftung fuer Selbstbestimmung und Internationale Beziehungen, in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.
Participants assessed progress made and addressed critical is- sues currently facing Afghanistan in the areas of security, regional relations, elections, governance and rule of law, and the economy and human development. More than sixty leading experts participated from the US, EU, Afghanistan, and the region, representing academia, the diplomatic community, governments, and the private sector.
Considerations of “perception and misperception” were high on the agenda throughout the meeting. Misperception is focused on the problems of security and criminality, and ignores major improvements in education, health, infrastructure, and the economy that have been made since 2002. But participants felt a sense of urgency about the situation in Afghanistan and in the region. Afghanistan cannot be won only militarily or politically, but instead demands a combined civil-military approach, a change of strategic culture, and a new regional compact including both the neighborhood - especially Pakistan, Iran, and China - and the macro-region including Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and Turkey, as well as the EU and the US. Conference participants therefore outlined specific recommendations for the Afghan government, the international community, and the US government with the goal of crafting an agenda for moving Afghanistan toward a stable, peaceful, and prosperous future.