As the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha continue to seek a political settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan, the academic community gathered to discuss the scholarly debates over questions of peace, development, and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The first day saw H.E. Dr Mutlaq Al Qahtani, Special Envoy of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation, deliver an Opening Speech on peacebuilding and the challenges of political settlements and formal negotiations as well as Qatar's neutral role as a mediator in the Afghan peace process.

The Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS) and the Arab Center (Washington, DC) hosted the second day of the three-day conference today, 22 June 2021, and again brought together the world's leading experts on Afghanistan to present their latest research, covering topics concerning long-term recovery and cross-sectoral sustainable peacebuilding.

On this day, His Excellency, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and previously an established international expert of peacebuilding, delivered the Distinguished Keynote Address. In his address, the President highlighted the transition Afghanistan is currently undergoing, for which Afghans have been mentally ready. In this transitional period, uncertainty through its risks, turbulence, threats, and opportunities must be confronted, President Ghani said.

Speaking about the implications that come with academia, His Excellency stated that real world consequences arise with research conclusions, making clear that within scholarship a moral and ethical responsibility exists. Denied the right to peace, and to a social, economic, and political order, it was clarified that a new chapter focused on peace, prosperity, and regional and international connectivity and cooperation is on the horizon.

From a perspective of collective interest, President Ghani shed light on the consequences that a weakened Afghanistan would have on Asia, emphasising that it would spread and affect the wellbeing and collective interest of the continent. As such, he acknowledged that a strategic shift is taking place and identified the importance of reframing partnerships.

Linking this strategic shift to transition in Afghanistan and to international connectivity and cooperation, Dr. Ghani spoke of securing the end state by making peace, implementing, and building upon peace, and finally sustaining the peace. While highlighting this significant shift, he emphasised that another shift in world demographics is taking place with regards to the decline in the middle class in the West and its rise in Asia, of which the result would be seen in the year 2030.

On 23 June, the conference is hosting the Negotiator for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Fatima Gailani for an Opening Speech on inclusive prospects for peace in Afghanistan.

Simultaneous translation between English, Dari, Pashto and Arabic will be provided to open the conversation to Afghan and global audiences interested in the possibilities for building long-term peace in the country.

Registration via Zoom is open for public audiences on the CHS website and will be livestreamed on CHS and ACW's social media accounts.

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