On November 27, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani co-hosted the Geneva Conference with the United Nations (UN) to discuss plans for peace and overall growth in Afghanistan. There the European Union (EU) agreed to help Afghanistan finance their state building and public sector reforms, healthcare, law enforcement, and elections. According to Al Jazeera, the $535 million aid agreement will also support the Afghan government in addressing migration and displacement challenges as well.
This enormous stride towards stability and security for Afghanistan is regarded as a positive action sure to have profound impact, and a number of officials have hope for the agreement’s success.
At the summit, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said, “The EU stands side by side with Afghanistan and its people to build a stronger future for the country.”
The inclusion of peace in the discussion sparked particular interest amongst diplomats given Afghanistan’s war-torn history. “Perhaps this is the first ministerial meeting when the issue of peace has been taken up with so much weight in addition to the regular issues, which are development, growth, social issues and reforms,” said UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto.
These charitable actions by the EU on behalf of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan’s commitment to self-betterment are certainly commendable. It is the moral duty of first world nations to contribute to those whose citizens are suffering and in need of help. As the Afghan Ministry of Finance stated, the peace process will be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” and with the fiscal help of foreign nations, Afghanistan should be able to take responsibility for its disastrous state and begin repairing its societal and governmental systems.
The convention is a continuation of a reform agenda that began in 2016 when world powers donated $15 billion to fund Afghanistan until 2020 with the expectation that the country would stabilize and reconstruct itself, making efforts toward peace. In exchange for extensive aid the international community requested that the Afghan government introduce social, political and electoral economic reforms to improve the standards of living for Afghan women and address corruption and waste. This push for peace follows the disclosure of an enormous humanitarian crisis by UNICEF- the severe acute malnutrition of half a million children and the worst drought in decades.
Another cog in the works toward changing times is the U.S. Administration’s direct dealings with the Taliban, a militant political movement comprised of Sunni Islamic fundamentalists waging war on Afghanistan. As Reuters reports, the Taliban has long intended to purge Afghanistan of all international influence and presence in order to enforce a strict Islamic legal system.
Recently, leaders of the Taliban have come to the table to discuss options for peace in Afghanistan and what that would mean. Namely, establishing a better governmental system in Afghanistan, and removing the 14,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
In 2017 President Trump significantly increased the amount of American military personnel stationed in Afghanistan in an attempt to better combat the Taliban. Since the start of 2018, there have been almost 1,700 civilian casualties, per The Guardian, the highest amount documented since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began counting over a decade ago. It is precisely this bolstering of foreign militant entities that the Taliban believes to be the biggest obstruction of peace.
After years of senseless violence and anguish for Afghanistan, it seems that this aid agreement could be the key to improving the nation while at the same time vying for peace. Yet at the same time the U.S. must realize that more fighting is not the answer. What Afghanistan needs now is to rebuild, not to self-destruct even more. There are millions dying from starvation and the drought, and thousands have lost their lives in the skirmishes between the Taliban and U.S. forces. So long as the Afghan government makes an effort to uphold their end of the bargain and use the donations to affect real change, with patience, and nonviolent methods, peace with the Taliban should not be too far out of reach.
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