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The Future of European Engagement in Afghanistan

Venue: Online

Please note: This event takes place 16:00 to 17:30 (UK time)

The Taliban's takeover of the Afghan state and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has raised urgent political and strategic questions for European governments. How should European states balance concerns about the Taliban's record on human and women's rights and past support for international terrorist groups with the humanitarian needs of the population? To what extent can and should European governments condition aid on the implementation of reforms within the Taliban government? What lessons can be learned from international engagement with the Taliban during the 1990s when the Taliban were last in power, and from European engagement in Afghanistan over the past 20 years? How can past mistakes be avoided in the future?

Join us online for an expert panel discussion chaired by Sune Engel Rasmussen, Wall Street Journal


Jasmine Bhatia, Lecturer and Programme Director, MSc in War and Humanitarianism

Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos, Jean Monnet Chair in Parliamentary Democracy and European Integration & Programme Director, MSc in European Politics and Policy


This event will be sponsored by the Jean Monnet Chair in Parliamentary Democracy & European Integration at Birkbeck, University of London.

Please note: a joining link for this online event will be emailed to you shortly before the event start.

Contact name:

  • Andreas von Brandt -

    EU Ambassador to Afghanistan

    Ambassador Andreas von Brandt has been head of the Delegation of the European Union to Afghanistan since September 2020. Prior to the fall of the previous government, HE von Brandt was active in bringing the Taliban to the negotiations table and in the eventual evacuation of all staff in August 2021.  Before joining the European External Actions Service (EEAS), Mr. von Brandt worked as Deputy Director in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg from 2018-2020, where he advised the Secretary General on NATO's approach towards Russia and helped maintain Allied unity after the demise of the INF treaty. Prior to joining NATO, Mr. von Brandt was the Deputy Ambassador at the German Embassy in Kabul, where he managed and oversaw the reconstruction and staff build-up of the Embassy following an attack in 2017. During his tenure, Mr. von Brandt contributed to peace efforts and preparations for Afghan elections in 2019, while spearheading German policing and stabilisation projects across Afghanistan.  

    Mr. von Brandt has also held senior positions at the German Foreign Office specialising in security, counter-terrorism and rule of law programmes, leading the Pakistan Group in the Special Task Force on Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2011-2014.  Outside of the foreign service, he has also directed programmes for the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in South-East Asia and held positions at the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank focusing on security sector reform, good governance, public sector and justice reform, and human rights.

  • Mary-Ellen McGroarty -

    Mary Ellen Mc Groarty is the Representative and Country Director for WFP in Afghanistan. Before her appointment to Afghanistan, Mary Ellen served as WFP’s Deputy Country Director in South Sudan, where she steered WFP’s emergency and resilience operations and contributed to designing programmes linking peace and food security. Previously, she served as WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Chad, overseeing emergency and resilience programmes in response to multi-crises, including in Lake Chad and the Sahel.

  • Michael Keating -

    Michael Keating is Executive Director of the European Institute of Peace (EIP), an independent body partnering with the European Union and European states as a resource to promote and provide practical support for more effective approaches to conflict prevention, resolution and mediation.

    Until September 2018, he was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.

    His career has been divided between the private and public sectors. Until 2015, he was an Associate Director at Chatham House in London. Between 2010-15, he worked as an advisor to conflict mediation bodies, including Intermediate and Search for Common Ground. From 2008 – 10, he served as the Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel, a policy group chaired by Kofi Annan.

    His UN career has included assignments in Kabul as deputy SRSG, in Lilongwe, Jerusalem/Gaza, New York, Geneva, Islamabad and Mogadishu. His private sector experience includes five years in financial publishing in the City of London; in television as associate producer on documentaries broadcast by the BBC, Channel Four; and running a management and communication consultancy.

  • Orzala Nemat -

    Director, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit

    Dr. Orzala Nemat is an internationally recognised Afghan scholar & think tank leader. She is an expert in political ethnography, holding a PhD in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and MSc in Development Planning from the University College London (UCL). Dr. Nemat has first-hand experience of war and displacement as a refugee for fourteen years in Pakistan. However, she chose to rise above the situation by focusing on helping women and girls in her community through advocating for educational programs, building schools, protection of female victims of violence, peacebuilding for children, and legal reforms.

    During a career spanning more than two decades, Dr. Nemat has served on various development organizations’ governance boards and attended numerous international and national conferences representing marginalised voices from Afghanistan, particularly Afghan women. Dr. Nemat is currently chairing the Open Society Foundation's Afghanistan Advisory board and serves as a trustee for Afghanaid, a British Charity working in Afghanistan. Dr Nemat was selected as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in 2009 and a Yale Greenberg World Fellow in 2008. She is also a recipient of the Isabel Ferror Award for Women’s Education and the Amnesty International Award for Humanitarian Aid to Children and Women in 2000.

    Upon completion of her studies at SOAS, Dr. Nemat returned to Kabul where she worked as the President’s Advisor on sub-national governance before joining Afghanistan's top research think tank Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) as its director in 2016. Dr. Nemat publishes research on various development issues and frequently appears on international media platforms discussing the plight of Afghanistan and its current political developments.