On the occasion of the Vienna visit of a high-ranking parliamentary delegation from Afghanistan, the Permanent Mission, together with UNODC and ACUNS-Vienna Liaison Office, co-organized a panel discussion at the United Nations Office at Vienna today, entitled “A Parliamentary Perspective on Consolidating Democracy during Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation (2015-2024)”.
On the panel were members of the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) of the National Assembly of Afghanistan, headed by H.E. Erfanullah Erfan, Deputy Secretary; Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC; Mr. Stefan Schocher, journalist with Kurier daily newspaper; Dr. Michael Platzer of ACUNS-Vienna (moderator); and H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani.
Ambassador Erfani welcomed the participants, introduced the panelists and provided a brief overview on the topic. Mr. Erfan then presented his assessment and discussed possible developments, highlighting what has been accomplished over the past thirteen years, but also making reference to remaining challenges and obstacles. The MPs highlighted the evident differences between life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule as compared to today, pointing to specific examples including the increased participation of women and the freedom of the media. Praising the new constitution, they discussed the success and consistent improvements of previous parliamentary, presidential and provincial council elections. They also indicated that 17 of 102 seats in the Upper House and 64 of 249 seats in the Lower House are reserved for women. Looking to the future, Mr. Erfan spoke on the urgency of encouraging electoral reform and providing for entirely fair elections. With 2015 marking the start of Afghanistan’s Decade of Transformation, Mr. Erfan seemed confident that Afghanistan would continue to move in the right direction.
Both Mr. Erfan and Ambassador Erfani responded to the remarks by the panelists before Dr. Platzer opened the Q&A session.
A large audience from various UN offices and Permanent Missions actively participated in a lively debate. In his closing remarks, Ambassador Erfani noted that Afghanistan, after having suffered for decades, had started its journey to democracy thirteen years ago. “The establishment of a democratic system ranks among our biggest achievements,” the Ambassador said.
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