Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, presented a public lecture titled, "President Obama's New Afghanistan Strategy: What's New, Will It Work?" at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21 in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall, on the Princeton University campus. Tanin outlined key issues for the Obama administration regarding Afghanistan. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, founding Director of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and Ambassador Francesc Vendrell, LISD Senior Visiting Fellow and former EU Special Representative for Afghanistan, provided comment. A public reception in Shultz Dining Room followed the event. The panel was co-sponsored by LISD and the Wodrow Wilson School.
Zahir Tanin assumed the position of Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN in December 2006. Prior to his appointment, he was an editor of BBC World Service Persian/Pashto Section in Afghanistan (2003-2006) and Afghanistan and Central Asia, Persian Section (2001-2003). He was also Senior Producer (2000 to 2001) and Producer (1995 to 2000).
Tanin started his career in 1980 as a journalist in Kabul after studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was a Research Fellow at the International Relations Department in 1994 to 1995. Prior to that, he was a freelance writer in France (1992-1993) and Editor-in-Chief of Afkbar-e-Haftah and Sabawoon Magazine. Tanin is co-author of The Communist Regime in Afghanistan, a comprehensive study of the political and social changes in Afghanistan from 1978 to 1992, and author of Afghanistan in the Twentieth Century. He also produced a 29-part program, "The Oral History of Afghanistan in the 20th Century," broadcast by the BBC.
Francesc Vendrell, is currently Senior Visiting Fellow at LISD and the Frederick Shultz Class of 1951 Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School. He erved as the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan from 2002-2008. Prior to this, he was Special Adviser to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs during Spain’s EU Presidency. From January 2000 to December 2001, he was Personal Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA). Between 1993 and 2000, Vendrell served as Director for Asia and the Pacific Division in the UN Department of Political Affairs. In this capacity, he was senior advisor to, and subsequently Deputy Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Cambodia and Papua New Guinea and Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar. In 1992, Ambassador Vendrell served as Senior Political Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Haiti and Director for Special Political Assignments, including serving as the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Between 1987 and 1992, he was Director for Europe and the Americas in the Office of the Secretary-General and the Secretary General’s Deputy Personal Representative for the Peace Process in Central America, including the Guatemalan, El Salvador and Nicaraguan peace negotiations.
Vendrell was Director of Studies at The Hague Academy of International Law, Adjunct Professor of Human Rights and Yale Law School, Adjunct Professor at Rutgers Law School and Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Papua New Guinea.
Wolfgang Danspeckgruber has been teaching on issues of state, security, self-determination, diplomacy, and crisis diplomacy at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Politics since 1988. He is also founder and chair of the Liechtenstein Colloquium on European and International Affairs, a private diplomacy forum in Liechtenstein. In 2006 during Austria’s Presidency of the European Union he served as academic advisor to the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations. He now works also on security problems in Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asia; on the International Criminal Court; and on issues concerning Religion and Diplomacy. Since 2001 he has visited Afghanistan, China, India (Kashmir), Israel, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and has been involved in related private diplomacy. Prior to this, Danspeckgruber was involved in private diplomacy in Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus, and has also worked with the Ahtisaari Team and the EU Special Representative on the status of Kosovo. He conducted fact-finding missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Yugoslavia/Serbia.
Danspeckgruber was educated at the Universities of Linz and Vienna, Austria, (M.L; D.Laws) and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland (Ph.D.). Following his Austrian military service (Lieutenant, Reserve) he served as special assistant to the Commander of the Austrian National Defense Academy. Danspeckgruber was a visiting scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and held research fellowships at the Center of Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and at Princeton's Center of International Studies.