Conference diplomacy has been a major practice in post 9/11 Afghanistan. The nine international conferences on Afghanistan, from Bonn 2001 to Bonn 2011, have shown how important these events are to Afghanistan. A variety of actors from all over the world, including G8 countries, NATO members, Afghanistan's neighbors, Islamic countries, and the UN friends of Afghanistan were participants of these conferences. As we look at these conferences from the point of view of the process, some points can be concluded: firstly, the host state to the conference, from Germany to Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Afghanistan, are as important as the main actors. From the organization of a given conference to the setting of the agenda and to imposing a decision, actors played their initial roles. For instance, the Afghan government as the central agenda of these conferences and as the recipient state has never been satisfied with the outcomes of the conferences. Furthermore, the UN as a neutral non-profit seeking actor has played the role of balancer in all these conferences as discussed during the debates. Most importantly, as to the common proverb says "who has money will decide". Donors were the decision makers in these conferences and it's worth mentioning that Afghanistan was conditionally authorized to consume only 50% of assistance aid only after 2010.
Starting from Bonn 2001 to Kabul 2010 the process has been top down. If participants of the Bonn Conference 2001 decided who should lead, it was not a fully Afghan initiative. Who invited whom in this Conference? Were they authorized to decide on behalf of the Afghan people? Were the results in favor of people of Afghanistan? Unfortunately, answers are not necessarily positive. However, some critics say it was not a peace talk but an emergency Conference to select the chairperson. The Tokyo Conference 2002, from the point of view of its outcomes, created a financial account of US$ 5.1 billion for Afghanistan, but owing to the approaches of its execution through foreign NGOs in some humanitarian and not sustainable era, it did not produce considerable long-term positive results for Afghanistan. Moreover, the Berlin Conference of 2004 was an opportunity to overlook past mistakes and correct them, but again political issues like the Presidential Elections of 2004 and the US-Iraq war (2003) heavily influenced the outcome of this gathering, as it did not bring considerable financial (not more than US$ 8.2 billion) and personnel assistance to Afghanistan.
Likewise, the London Conference of 2006 was exactly the entrance to the intermediary phase of reconstruction path. New frameworks and new commitments were laid down, but were too general in terms of recommending a regional solution for inhibiting drug trade and tackl ing the insecurity challenges. It is notable that the London Conference confirmed previous agreements and conferences as its original path. The Paris Conference of 2008, like London, had mostly a fund-raising purpose at the top, and insecurity as well as drug trade remained in second and third priority areas. The newest thing about this conference was that that it imposed measures to tackle the problem of inefficiency of expenditure of assistance aid but it did not sort out the main reasons for it. In contrast, the Hague Conference of 2009 gave a hint for changes in the path. It was motivated by the fact that President Obama, introduced changes in its relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Alternatively, the London Conference of 2010 was exactly the evidence of a clear path break putting an end to some of issues that were decided from Bonn to Paris and creating a new path. Leaving Afghanistan without completing the mission and negotiation with terrorists or "unhappy brothers of Karzai" and "loyal trainees of Pakistan" were the gifts of this meeting. Kabul 2010 was exactly the reflection of Afghanistan on London Conference 2010. It was such an immediate welcoming to the outcomes of London Conference without consulting with the people of Afghanistan through referendum on the provision of the new partnership. Replacing democracy, women rights, justice and achievement of ten yearlong efforts with compromise and negotiation with the Taliban is the new path or outcome of it. It will be not so pessimistic to question the rationality of key actors on why they come to Afghanistan if they try to bring the defeated forces back to power.
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Javeed Ahwar holds an MA in Politics and Security in Central Asia from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek.