State Building in Afghanistan – Lessons Learned?

Panel discussion with Philip Krämer, MdB took place at the TU Darmstadt

Was the international engagement in and for Afghanistan a complete failure? What lessons can be learned from the experience for future German missions in support of state- and government-building and for the 'turning point'? In order to find answers to these questions, the German Bundestag established the Enquete Commission “Lehren aus Afghanistan für das künftige vernetzte Engagement Deutschlands (2001-2021)” (a Study Commission with the aim of drawing lessons from Germany's involvement in Afghanistan for foreign and security policy in the future).

On July 11, 2023, a panel discussion was held at TU Darmstadt to shed light on these questions with perspectives from research, civil society, and politics. Guests were Philip Krämer, Member of the German Bundestag and member of the Enquete Commission, Prof. Dr Hanna Pfeifer (Goethe University Frankfurt and TraCe), Dr Thorsten Gromes (Leibniz Institute for Peace and Conflict Research), Prof. em. Dr Harald Fuhr (University of Potsdam), Fakhria Latifi (former Assistant Professor Kabul University, now TU Darmstadt), Zaki Najibullah (former Assistant Professor Kabul University, now TU Darmstadt) and Fatima Akbari (former UNEP Kabul and Zoï Environment Network, now TU Darmstadt). Prof. Dr Markus Lederer (TU Darmstadt and TraCe) moderated the discussion.

First, Philip Krämer explained the work of the Enquete Commission. Zaki Najibullah, Fakhria Latigi and Fatima Akbari then gave short statements from an Afghan perspective, focusing on public sector reform, women's rights and civil infrastructure. Harald Fuhr reported from his work in Afghanistan in a project for the development of administrative studies, the successes of which were abruptly destroyed in August 2021. Thorsten Gromes and Hanna Pfeifer gave impressions from research and agreed that sensitivity to context must always play a role, that steering capacity and what is feasible must not be overestimated. The audience, consisting of students and the interested (partly political) Darmstadt public, asked numerous questions.


The successful bilingual exchange (German and English) was continued at a small reception afterwards.

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