From September 3-4, 2015, in Kabul, the Afghan Government convened over sixty governments, international agencies, and sovereign wealth funds for the sixth edition of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan. The aim of the “RECCA” is to promote regional stability and economic growth for Afghanistan and its neighbors in Central and South Asia through targeted investments in regional transport, energy, trade facilitation, and private sector development.
A key component at this year’s RECCA was an Academic Forum to assess progress and feed innovative investment project and reform ideas into the meeting’s Ministerial Forum. Dr. Richard Ponzio, Head of the Global Governance Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, moderated a policy roundtable on regional trade and private sector development, in addition to presenting a paper on “Building Peace in Afghanistan through Regional Economic Integration: From RECCA-VI to the Heart of Asia Ministerial”.
In his paper, Dr. Ponzio argues that “new pull factors” are needed to steer younger generation and would-be Taliban fighters away from violence and other criminal forms of behavior towards new, economically viable livelihood opportunities that benefit themselves, their families, and their communities.
He also contends that strategic regional infrastructure and trade pacts, particularly linking Afghanistan with Pakistan and their wider neighbourhood, can help to raise regional stakes and build the confidence required for talks toward a negotiated settlement to Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict. He further elaborated on these points, alongside four other scholars from China, India, Iran, and the Kyrgyz Republic, in atelevision interview program on Afghanistan’s leading tv station, Tolo.