Afghanistan

The departure of international combat troops in 2014 left Afghanistan with a struggling economy and a fragile security environment. Today, bad governance, corruption, and insurgent havens in Pakistan fuel a continuing conflict. The U.S. Institute of Peace works with the Afghan government and civil society organizations to address underlying causes of instability by strengthening the rule of law, countering violent extremism, expanding peace education, and promoting better governance and anti-corruption efforts. USIP also supports policy-relevant research on current causes of conflict in Afghanistan. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Afghanistan.

Cultural Heritage: A Target in War, an Engine of Peace

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 08:45
Mon, 10/24/2016 - 17:30
Subtitle: 
Stories from Afghanistan and ‘Turquoise Mountain’ on Preserving Culture to Curb Violence

In 2001, Taliban fighters dynamited Afghanistan’s massive Bamiyan Buddha statues, carved into cliff faces, into rubble. Serb forces burned Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Sarajevo National Library in 1992 and ISIS extremists recently razed ancient temples in Palmyra, Syria. Such deliberate destruction of cultural heritage is so damaging to civilizations that the world recognizes it as a war crime. But the power of cultural heritage, so targeted in war, also can provide instruments to build peace. An October 24 symposium in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution will use recent experience, notably in Afghanistan, to examine the often unrecognized power of cultural heritage. The discussion will explore new ways that it might serve worldwide to prevent, or recover from, violent conflict.

Read the event coverage, Can Afghanistan Write New Future in Calligraphy?

Recent wars offer no greater example of cultural heritage turned to healing than the work in Afghanistan of the charity Turquoise Mountain, the subject of a stunning, 11-month exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution. “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan,” at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, shows how historians, artisans, young students and communities are preserving and renewing traditions, crafts, economic livelihoods and a historic district of Kabul. This symposium at the U.S.

The agenda is now available.

8:45 - Registration and Coffee in the atrium

9:15 - Welcome: Nancy Lindborg, President, USIP

9:20-9:25 - Hila Alam, Minister Counsellor, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.

9:25-9:35 - William Hammink, Assistant to the Administrator, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID

9:35-9:45 - Mark Taplin, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

9:45-10:45 Panel 1: What is Cultural Heritage and (Why) Does it Matter?
Moderator: Molly Fannon, Director, Office of International Relations and Global Programs, Smithsonian Institution

  • Dr. Julian Raby, Dame Jillian Sackler Director, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
  • Dr. Derek Gillman, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Art History and Museum Leadership, Drexel University

10:45-11:00 Break

11:00-12:15 Panel 2: Looking Back: 15 Years of Cultural Heritage Initiatives in Afghanistan
Moderator: Barmak Pazhwak, Senior Program Officer, Asia Center, USIP

  • Dr. Tommy Wide, Assistant Director of Special Projects, Freer and Sackler Galleries
  • Majeed Qarar, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.
  • Jolyon Leslie, Architect
  • Laura Tedesco, Cultural Heritage Program Manager, U.S. Department of State

12:15-1:15 Lunch
Calligraphy demonstration in the atrium with Sughra Hussainy, visiting Turquoise Mountain artist
Portal Installation

1:15-2:30 Panel 3: Looking to the Future: New Generation, New Technology, New Approaches
Moderator: Scott Liddle, Country Director, Turquoise Mountain Afghanistan

  • Amar Bakshi, Founder and CEO, Shared_Studios
  • Adam Lowe, Director, Factum Arte
  • Dr. Bastien Varoutsikos, Research Fellow, Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), Paris
  • Lina Rozbih, Managing  Editor, Ashna TV, Voice of America

2:30-2:45 Tea and Coffee

2:45-4:15 Panel 4: Looking Out: Comparisons, Lessons, Inspirations
Moderator: Katherine Wood, Senior Arts Adviser, USIP

  • Harry Wardill, Director, Turquoise Mountain Myanmar
  • Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Office, Smithsonian Institution
  • Tess Davis, Executive Director, The Antiquities Coalition
  • Joanna Sherman, Founder and Artistic Director, Bond Street Theater

4:15 Closing remarks:  Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution

4:30 Reception

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Displaced Women: From Violations to Voice

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:30
Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:30
Subtitle: 
Afghanistan, India and Pakistan Cases Show How to Strengthen Women and End Impunity

People forced from their homes amid conflict—the majority of them women—face threats of deprivation, discrimination and a militarized society. During a forum hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace and  the Women’s Regional Network, speakers discussed possible model solutions in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan for displaced women and girls.

 

The study, conducted by the Women’s Regional Network, suggested the use of regional tribunals and “community conversations” as possible mechanisms for exploring women’s experiences, fears and contributions, and for strengthening their often unrecognized contributions to justice, peace and social reintegration.

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Implications for Afghanistan: The Taliban Seizure of Kunduz

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:30
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 16:30
Subtitle: 
For Washington and Kabul, Renewed Questions of Stability

The Taliban’s two-week seizure of Kunduz in September revealed weaknesses in Afghanistan’s security forces and unforeseen Taliban capabilities. It has generated deep concerns about stability, security, the future of the peace process, and underappreciated humanitarian issues. On October 28, USIP will convene experts to analyze Kunduz and its fallout, including President Obama’s decision to extend the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016.

The fall of the northern city of Kunduz to the Taliban ignited serious concerns about the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to maintain stability in their country. While Afghan forces recaptured Kunduz  with international support, Taliban forces continue to pressure other northern cities while carrying out operations elsewhere.

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Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 04/28/2015 - 15:30

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion and launch of "Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace," a book that tells the extraordinary stories of "ordinary" people from eleven conflict zones. This event included a moderated discussion with the book's author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews, followed by a reception and book-signing session.

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother -- from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

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A Conversation with H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 17:00
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 18:00
Subtitle: 
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

The Atlantic Council and the U.S. Institute of Peace welcomed the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, on the occasion of his first official visit to Washington, D.C. since being sworn in as president on September 21, 2014. The public address, with questions and answers from the invite-only audience and via Twitter, took place on March 25, 2015 at USIP headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Read the event coverage, Afghan President: Pakistan Is Why Peace with Taliban Is Possible.

Media Guidance for event coverage

Join the conversation on Twitter with #AskGhani.

Honored guests:

Nancy Lindborg
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Stephen J. Hadley
Chairman, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace
Executive Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Atlantic Council

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The Asia Foundation's 2014 Survey of the Afghan People

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:30
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:30

The United States Institute of Peace was pleased to host a presentation of the findings of The Asia Foundation’s 2014 Survey of the Afghan People.

With the conclusion of the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history and the continuing drawdown of foreign troops, what do the people of Afghanistan think are the most critical issues facing the country? This survey, based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of nearly 9,300 Afghan citizens, reveals their views on security, national reconciliation, the economy, development and essential services, governance and political participation, corruption, justice, gender equality and access to information.

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The Legacy of President Hamid Karzai

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:00
Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:00

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a public discussion with four distinguished panelists as they examined Hamid Karzai’s controversial presidency.

Read the event anlysis, Karzai: What Will History Say?

Even as the Afghan election remains mired in the messy work of sorting out good votes from fraudulent, President Karzai has set August 2 as the inauguration date of the next president. On this day Karzai will conclude his term as Afghanistan’s chief executive, a position he has held since December 2001. President Karzai’s relationship with the United States has gone from mutual trust and high-hopes to misunderstanding and frustration, ending in antagonism and bitterness. As Karzai prepares to step down from power, what sort of country is he handing over to his successor?

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Ending Wars to Build Peace

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:30
Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:45
Subtitle: 
Conflict Termination Workshop

Designing a conflict termination strategy is an essential but often overlooked component of warfighting. Improperly planned or incorrectly implemented, a failure to effectively terminate a conflict will leave open the original issues that brought on the war and likely create the conditions for future conflict.

Experts: 

The famous British military theorist, B.H. Liddell-Hart, observed after World War I that the logical conclusion of any war is peace.  In his 1976 commentary to Clausewitz's On War Bernard Brodie wrote "… war in all its phases must be rationally guided by meaningful political purposes."  In the last century the United States has fought many wars and not one has resulted in its intended outcome or the establishment of a peaceful world order, but in reality has left us to deal with many unintended consequences.

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The Future of Afghan Policing: Security after NATO Withdrawal

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 13:00
Tue, 05/27/2014 - 15:00

While much attention has focused on the Afghan National Army ‘s ability to secure the country after the withdrawal of NATO combat forces in 2014, the equally-important role of the police is frequently overlooked.

Huge investments by the international community to create the Afghan National Police (ANP) have had mixed results. Disagreements over what the police force should look like have led to the simultaneous development of multiple models. Now Afghanistan will need to take the lead in resolving this enduring dilemma and creating a professional law enforcement agency suitable for a democratic society. Planning for this transition is underway, but the challenge of transforming the interior ministry, which supervises the police, and the 157,000-member force is formidable.

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Getting Beyond 2014 in Afghanistan

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 09:00
Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:00

The U.S. Institute of Peace, Voice of America, and Alliance in Support of the Afghan People hosted a two panel public event that examined the U.S.-Afghan relationship, both its history and its future potential. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins delivered the keynote address.

Read the event coverage, Election Prospects Give Afghanistan a Shot at Future Beyond 2014

9:00am to 9:15am | Featured Short Films by Voice of America

  • Afghan Women: The Journey Ahead
  • Afghan Sports: Excellence in Actions

9:15am to 9:25am | Welcome & Introduction

9:25am to 9:45am | Keynote Address

9:45am to 11:00am | Afghanistan and the United States: The Long View

  • Ambassador Marc Grossman
    Former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State
  • Clare Lockhart
    Director and Founder, Institute for State Effectiveness
  • David Sedney
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Alex Thier
    Assistant to the Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Andrew Wilder, Moderator
    Vice President, Center for South and Central Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace

11:00am to 11:15am | Coffee Break & Photo Exhibit by Aga Khan Trust for Culture

11:15am to 12:30pm | The Future of Media in Afghanistan
(This session will be introduced by a segment from the documentary “The Network” by Eva Orner, about Tolo TV, Afghanistan)

  • Peter Bergen
    Director, National Security Program, New America Foundation
  • James Deane
    Director, Policy and Learning, BBC Media Action
  • Danish Karokhel
    Director, Pajhwok Afghan News
  • Najib Sharifi
    Director, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee/Afghan Voices
  • David Ensor
    Director, Voice of America

12:30pm to 12:45pm | Closing Remarks

Things are not as bleak as they seem in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan's future need not be as bleak as some fear. It is true that 2014 begins with numerous uncertainties, including questions about the presidential election and a post-2014 troop presence.

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Articles & Analysis

Last month, two female suicide bombers killed 24 people in northeast Nigeria. In September, Paris police arrested three women for plotting a terrorist attack on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS...

By:
Sadaf Lakhani and Belquis Ahmadi

Sughra Hussainy didn’t want to be a doctor like so many other Afghan youth. The daughter of a day laborer and a tailor in Kabul, she was intrigued instead by her country’s cultural heritage and...

By:
Joshua Levkowitz

Afghanistan’s impressive revenue turnaround in 2015—when total government revenue exceeded expectations with an increase of 22 percent—has been followed by further rapid revenue growth in the...

By:
William A. Byrd and M. Khalid Payenda

Videos & Webcasts

Former first lady Laura Bush said the international community must continue to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan and progress for the country’s women through aid, investment and an ongoing...

As Washington hosts Afghanistan’s new leaders this week, policy specialists and government officials have urged the United States and its allies to agree on long-term financial and security...

The revival by ISIS of a brutal Islamist offensive in Iraq makes it urgent to prevent a similar reversal in the Afghan war—and is increasing congressional support for President Obama to maintain U...

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Online Courses

Nadia Gerspacher

This online course is targeted at international professionals with competence in their own craft who will participate in a capacity strengthening mission to a foreign region undergoing reform or transition.

Most interventions today are capacity strengthening missions.

Publications

By:
Belquis Ahmadi and Sadaf Lakhani
In Afghanistan, the actions and narratives of violent extremist groups threaten to roll back many of the gains and hard-won rights of women over the last fifteen years. Women have long been cast in a...
By:
Arian Sharifi
What causes established nonviolent groups to turn into violent organizations, and what leads organized violent groups to shun violence, even temporarily, and work within established political systems...