Vasu Mohan, IFES deputy director for Europe and Asia, participated in a panel discussion on Building Peace After War in Afghanistan: The Hard Job of Soft Power, hosted by the Institute of World Politics (IWP) on April 11.
The event explored the ways international development efforts can create long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Panelists discussed how information and resources were currently shared among the variety of actors who implement democracy and development projects, including government, donors, international organizations, Afghan non-governmental organizations, the military and others. From there, good practices were identified.
Sharing the perspective of a development organization, Mohan’s presentation focused on what has worked in Afghanistan as he drew on lessons from successful programs and well-functioning Afghan institutions.
Mohan talked about the important role of women and youth as allies in creating change. He also spoke on the need for the international community to hold themselves and their Afghan counterparts to the same standards of transparency, accountability, participatory decision making and commitment to international treaties and covenants.
The audience was shown a short video of IFES' successful Future Leaders Club, which aims to empower women as advocates, and the IFES Debate Club in Afghanistan, which focuses on youth empowerment.
"The youth is the future,” said Mohan. "This generation has grown up in the information age, with the Internet, Google, Facebook and Twitter. They are fully aware of the risks they are taking in pursuing democracy in their country. There is no turning them back."
Dorothy Taft, principal at The Tantallon Group and former head of the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Democracy & Governance, and Colonel Mike Eastman, former special assistant at the Office of Military Cooperation in Afghanistan and current senior service fellow at IWP, were the other panelists. The event was moderated by Juliana Pilon, director of the Center for Culture and Security at IWP and a former IFES vice president.