CDDRL co-hosts conference on state-strengthening in Afghanistan

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), in partnership with Chatham House and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), recently held a conference on state-strengthening in Afghanistan. Bringing together leading specialists from government, NGOs and academia, the conference examined lessons from state-strengthening efforts in Afghanistan over the past fourteen years and identified best practices that could help support the country’s future development and inform other international interventions. The conference was held at the USIP headquarters in Washington, D.C., from March 16-17.

CDDRL Affiliated Scholar Karl Eikenberry delivered a keynote address at the conference, reflecting on his experiences both as U.S. ambassador and military commander in Afghanistan.  He emphasized the importance of building national security forces in ways that will ensure their political reliability and coherence, and he contrasted the U.S. experience in Afghanistan with Iraq. Amb. Eikenberry also discussed the failure of the U.S. military to designate the training of the Afghan security forces as its main effort. Instead, it spent far more resources conducting its own unilateral combat and civil-military operations. To view a video of Eikenberry's address, please see below.

The conference was also attended by CDDRL Affiliated Faculty Member Erik Jensen, who presented a paper on lessons learned from attempts to build the rule of law in Afghanistan. Jensen is a professor of the practice of law at Stanford Law School, where he also directs the school's Rule of Law Program. He currently serves as faculty advisor to the Afghanistan Legal Education Project, an ongoing student-driven project aimed at establishing a legal curriculum at the American University of Afghanistan. To read more on Jensen's work and his commentary on the conference, please see this Q&A published in the April 2015 edition of the Stanford Lawyer.

Conference speakers advised that in order to secure sustained peace in Afghanistan, the international community must commit to long-term projects aimed at developing critical government institutions and civil society, promoting long-term sustainable economic growth, and improving the performance of the army and police.

Both Eikenberry and Jensen contributed to the policy statement sent to American and Afghan policy makers on the eve of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's visit to the U.S. They are currently working on a co-authored policy piece with colleagues from the United States Institute of Peace and Chatham House that will be published later this month.