Afghanistan Peace Talks. A Road to Nowhere?

Panel discussion with prominent Afghan experts


Monday, 26 April 2021
15:30 - 17:00 CET (Zoom)


English with simultaneous interpretation into Dari and Pashto


Live on our Facebook channel:


Fawzia Koofi

A female peace negotiator from the Afghan government delegation

Sima Samar

Former head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission

Bilal Sarwary

Afghan journalist based in Kabul

Rahela Sediqi

Women’s rights activist from the Afghan diaspora in the UK

Moderation: Sana Safi

BBC-Journalist,  London

Opening: Ali Ahmad

Danube-University Krems/VIDC

Closing remarks and follow up: Adrien Bory

Danish Refugee Council’s Diaspora Programme

Curated by

Ali Ahmad, Danube-University Krems/VIDC and Michael Fanizadeh, VIDC


Herat, Afghanistan © Ali Ahmad

Herat, Afghanistan © Ali Ahmad

The Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) and the Danish Refugee Council’s Diaspora Programme (DRC) warmly invites you to a panel discussion on the current progress of the peace talks between the Afghan government delegation and the Taliban negotiators.

The talk will be attended by Fawzia Koofi, a female peace negotiator from the Afghan government delegation, Sima Samar, the former head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, the Afghan Journalist Bilal Sarwary and Rahela Sediqi, women’s rights activist from the Afghan diaspora in the UK. This online event will be moderated by Sana Safi, BBC journalist based in London. Opening remarks by Ali Ahmad, Danube-University Krems/VIDC and closing comments by Adrien Bory, DRC.


The Turkish government will host a UN-led conference on the peace process in Afghanistan, which is expected to take place in Istanbul after Ramadan in May. The upcoming peace talks will serve as a platform for the Taliban and the Afghan government to reach an agreement to end the war in Afghanistan. With the withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops and their allies from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, a cease-fire and an interim government to secure peace are expected to be the main points of the talks. The gains made in the last 20 years, such as democracy, freedom of expression, women's participation in social and political life and the rights of minorities, are the main concerns of many Afghans.

But how can the U.S., the UN and the rest of the international community guarantee that a new interim government will lead to sustainable peace? Who can guarantee that Afghan women will not lose what they have gained over the past 20 years? Have the Taliban really changed from the 1990s, when they banned all women from public life?  What measures will prevent Afghanistan from becoming a proxy war of Pakistan and Iran? And finally, what role can the Afghan diaspora play in securing a sustainable and just peace?

Afghan Diaspora Engagement in Europe (ADEE)

The panel discussion is part of the DRC’s Diaspora programme ADEE initiative in cooperation with the VIDC. The project aims at supporting increased dialogue and agency within the Afghan diaspora in Europe as well as between the Afghan diaspora and the Afghan Government. This new project will strive to improve coordination, increase collaboration across organisations and facilitate higher level of engagement and influence for the Afghan diaspora in Europe. 

Upcoming online events will cover topics such as: Asylum, Integration, Advocacy on the situation in Afghanistan & consultations on the Afghan National Diaspora Engagement Policy.


Fawzia Koofi

is a member of peace negotiation team representing Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, she was recently nominated for the Nobel peace prize. After completing her baccalaureate degree, she entered a competitive medical school. But soon after the Taliban took over in September 1995, and barred women from access to all education! Finding the doors of a university education closed to her, Fawzia Koofi focused her energy on women’s right organizations, and worked closely with one of the most vulnerable group such as Internally Displaced People, and marginalized women and children. After the fall of the Taliban, she continued law faculty night shift while still working with UNICEF Afghanistan on women and children's rights. She eventually got her bachelor's degree from Kabul University law and political sciences faculty and her Master on International relations from Geneva School of Diplomacy.

Sima Samar

is a renowned advocate of human and women's rights in Afghanistan, she was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in June 2002. Prior to her appointment as the chair of AIHRC, she was elected as the vice chair of the Emergency Loya Jirga and also served as the Deputy Chair and Minister of Women's Affairs in the post-Taliban Interim Administration of Afghanistan. She has recently been appointed as the new member of United Nation’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. On December 3rd, 2019, she was also appointed as a board member of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on internal Displacement. Sima Samar is currently serving as the Special Envoy to the President of Afghanistan and State Minister for Human Rights and International Relations of Afghanistan. She is also serving as the Chair of Asia Pacific forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF). Samar also heads the National Commission on the Prevention of Torture in Afghanistan.

Bilal Sarwary

is an Afghan journalist based in Kabul. He is a former longtime producer and reporter for the BBC World Service, he has also appeared regularly on France 24, Radio New Zealand, Turkish Radio and Television, CNN, CBC, and Al Jazeera English. He graduated from Middleburry College, Vermont/U.S. in 2010 majoring in the central linkages between warfare, drugs, and terrorism.

Rahela Sidiqi

is the founding director of the diaspora organization Rahela Trust (formerly Farkhunda Trust), UK. The Rahela Trust was set up in response to the many attacks on girls and young women seeking an education across Afghanistan. The mission is to provide scholarships to women from disadvantaged backgrounds to enable them to pursue higher education and, ultimately, to contribute to shaping a progressive Afghan society. She is member of the steering committee for the Afghanistan Mechanism for Inclusive Peace (AMIP) also co-founder and strategic member of the Afghan Women’s Network. She received her master’s degree in Social Development and Sustainable Livelihoods from the University of Reading, UK.

Sana Safi

is a Senior Presenter for the daily BBC News Pashto TV news programme, BBC Naray Da Wakht (BBC World Right Now). Nearly 1.5 million people connect with her on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Sana Safi joined BBC World Service – of which BBC News Pashto is part – in 2006 as a field reporter in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. She then worked as a BBC Pashto radio and TV producer and presenter, based in London. As presenter of the BBC Pashto TV news programme, Sana Safi was the first broadcast journalist to interview Afghanistan’s First Lady, Rula Ghani, after her husband, Ashraf Ghani, took office in 2014.  Before joining the BBC, Sana Safi worked as the only female journalist in Jalalabad’s state-run radio and television station, RTAJ. She also headed an educational institution in Jalalabad, Nangarhar, which provided literacy and numeracy classes for women and children deprived of education under the Taliban regime.

Ali Ahmad

is a PhD candidate at the Department for Migration and Globalization at the Danube University Krems. Ahmad works as a consultant for the VIDC since 2015.

Adrien Bory

is a Project Coordinator at the Danish Refugee Council’s Diaspora Programme. He leads the initiative „Afghan Diaspora Engagement in Europe“.