Democracy in Question: Shaharzad Akbar on Afghanistan After Democracy

The latest episode of the Democracy in Question podcast, hosted by Central European University (CEU) President and Rector, Shalini Randeria, features Shaharzad Akbar, one of the most prominent voices among the Afghan democratic opposition in exile. Akbar was born in Afghanistan, lived with her family as a refugee in Pakistan during the first Taliban regime and was the first Afghan woman to earn a postgraduate degree at Oxford University in 2011.

Akbar was the Country Director for the Open Society Afghanistan, a nonprofit organization supporting civil society and media, focusing on human rights and peace building, and worked as Senior Advisor to the Afghan President on high development councils. She was also Chair of the country's Independent Human Rights Commission, a position that she held until early 2022. In 2021, she was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, and most recently, she was an Open Society Network Academic Fellow in Human Rights at Chatham House. Akbar is currently at Wolfson College, Oxford building a new international NGO to support human rights in Afghanistan.

In this episode, "Shaharzad Akbar on Afghanistan After Democracy" published February 1, Randeria and her guest explore the political mistakes which prevented human rights and the rule of law from taking root in Afghan society. What understandings of democracy prevailed following the U.S. invasion and what were the foundations on which the leaders of Afghanistan tried to build a modern republic? Listen to what made Taliban resurgence possible, as well as the prospects for a successful popular resistance to their rule of terror.

For each episode of Democracy in Question, Randeria invites a leading scholar or public figure to explore the challenges and dilemmas facing democracies around the world. Listen to the trailer and subscribe here.

Series six of Democracy in Question is produced in partnership with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (AHCD) where Randeria is a Senior Fellow. ACHD and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna co-produced seasons one and two of the podcast.