As a friend to Afghanistan, Germany has supported the efforts to achieve peace in the country for many years. After 40 years of almost constant violence, the main prerequisites for peace are a willingness to engage in dialogue and a certain level of trust across deep divides.
With the aim of building confidence between the various parties to the conflict and groups, Germany and Qatar co-hosted an intra-Afghan dialogue conference in Doha last weekend (7 and 8 July), where over 60 Afghans met to discuss an end to the conflict and the future structure of their country.
In-depth discussion on the future of Afghanistan
The participants attended the conference as members of the public, and not in an official capacity. However, they represented a wide spectrum of Afghan politics, society and regions because a lasting peace agreement in Afghanistan can only be achieved if all relevant political groups, civil society and hitherto disadvantaged sections of the population, such as women and ethnic minorities, are included and taken into account.
The willingness of the various participants, who included members of the Taliban, the Afghan Government and civil society, to take part in this type of dialogue is an encouraging sign. The in‑depth exchange chaired by the Berghof Foundation addressed topics such as the rights of women and minorities, the prospects for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign troops and the political future of the country as a whole.
The next steps toward building confidence – protecting civilians and curbing violence
There was consensus among the participants on various issues, including the need for measures to curb violence against civilians and to reduce the number of civilian casualties. Furthermore, in their joint declaration at the end of the event, the participants expressed their support for the ongoing peace talks between the United States and the Taliban which are to be continued on Tuesday (9 July).
This start of an inclusive dialogue between Afghans on the prospects for lasting peace in their country means that an important first step has been taken. It is now important to continue this dialogue and to actually put what has been agreed into practice.
In addition, direct talks will be needed between the Afghan Government and representatives of the Taliban. So far, the Taliban has refused to enter into such talks. Moreover, guarantees are needed to ensure that major achievements of the past years, for instance in the field of protecting human rights, setting up democratic institutions and providing equal access to education, do not fall by the wayside.