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Life under the Taliban

Time (GMT +01) 13:00 14:30
Hero image description: Taliban fighter in Logar province Image credit:Andrew Quilty Image license:© Andrew Quilty


Lyse Doucet @bbclysedoucet - Chief International Correspondent, BBC


H.E. Shukria Barakzai @ShukryaBarakzai - Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Norway (via videolink)

Mark Bowden @UNMarkBowden Former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) & Senior Research Associate, ODI

Francesc Vendrell - Adjunct Professor of International Relations, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Ashley Jackson @a_a_jackson - Research Associate, ODI

Meena Baktash @meenabaktash - Head, BBC Afghan Service


Taliban governance is more coherent than ever before for the tens of millions of Afghans living under its rule. Their control and influence over finance, education, health, justice, taxation and everyday life extends far beyond areas the Taliban is said to control or contest. The provision of public goods, together with systemised violence and coercion, garner a combination of support, complicity and fear.

The scale and extent of Taliban governance is a reality with which few in the international community are willing to engage. This has enabled the Taliban to set the rules and parameters of negotiation.

To better support Afghans living under Taliban control, the question for the international community must shift from whether to engage to how. Drawing from ODI’s new research, based on first-hand interviews with over 160 Taliban fighters, officials and civilians, this expert panel discusses:

What is the current reality for Afghan’s living under Taliban rule?How are Afghan civilians and aid workers navigating these complex realities?What lessons can be drawn from past negotiations with the Taliban to inform and shape the international community’s future engagement?


Lyse Doucet is an award winning Chief International Correspondent and Senior Presenter for BBC World News television and BBC World Service Radio. She is regularly deployed to anchor special news coverage from the field and interview world leaders. Lyse is a regular visitor to Afghanistan and Pakistan from where she has been reporting since 1988.

H.E. Shukria Barakzai is the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Norway since February 2016. Shukria was appointed a member of the 2003 loya jirga, a body of representatives from all over Afghanistan that was nominated to discuss and pass the new constitution after the fall of the Taliban. In the October 2004 elections she was elected as a member of the House of the People or Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. She was one of only a handful of female MPs to speak up for women's rights.

Mark Bowden recently retired as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan in UNAMA with responsibility on development coherence, governance, economic development, gender and rule of law and is now a Senior Research Associate with the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI. Mr. Bowden was also the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in charge of coordination of the United Nations System activities, humanitarian disaster management and development coordination in Afghanistan from 2012-2017. 

Francesc Vendrell is an Adjunct Professor of International Relations at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In a diplomatic career spanning 40 years Francesc has been involved in mediating a variety of conflicts. Francesc’s former positions include Special Representative of the European Union for Afghanistan, 2002-2008 and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Special Mission for Afghanistan 2000-2002.

Ashley Jackson is a Research Associate with the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, and has a decade of experience working on the ground in humanitarian crises and on policy issues. Previous to ODI she served as an advisor to the UK Parliament on Afghanistan and spent several years working in Afghanistan with the UN and Oxfam as well on disaster recovery and response for the Red Cross in Southeast Asia. 

Meena Baktash is an experienced broadcast journalist, covering Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia for the last 17 years. She is currently Head of the BBC Afghan Service (Dari and Pashto).


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