Scott Worden is director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He comes into this role with an extensive background in reconstruction, development, democracy and governance, policy, among others; as well as extensive regional expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prior to joining USIP, he was director of the Lessons Learned Program at the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and served as acting director of policy as well as a senior policy advisor for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In the latter position, he was responsible for advising senior officials on strategies for sustainable development in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At his time at USIP, Mr. Worden directed Rule of Law development programs for the USIP and served as a United Nations-appointed Electoral Complaints Commissioner for the 2009 Afghanistan elections, as well as advising the U.N. on elections in 2005-06. Mr. Worden has a decade of experience working on Afghanistan issues and working in the field.

Originally from Boston, Mr. Worden earned his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Publications By Scott

U.S., Taliban Sign Historic Agreement—Now Comes the Hard Part

U.S., Taliban Sign Historic Agreement—Now Comes the Hard Part

Monday, March 2, 2020

By: Scott Worden

After more than a year and a half of negotiations, the U.S. and Taliban struck a deal on Saturday that paves a way to end America’s longest war. The agreement was signed following a seven-day reduction of violence (RIV) period. While the RIV was largely upheld, the Taliban on Monday ordered its fighters to resume attacks against the Afghan army and police forces. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the insurgent group would not attack foreign forces, as stipulated in the U.S.-Taliban agreement. With the complicated intra-Afghan phase set to begin on March 10, the resumption of violence shows how fragile the peace process remains.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

By: Scott Worden

Amid news of an interim U.S.-Taliban deal, Afghanistan’s election commission announced President Ashraf Ghani has won reelection—a result his opponent has openly rejected. USIP’s Scott Worden warns this kind of political infighting weakens the government’s negotiating position ahead of possible intra-Afghan talks, saying “the Taliban profit from political chaos.”

Type: Podcast

Peace Processes

Will a Prisoner Swap with the Taliban Push the Afghan Peace Process Forward?

Will a Prisoner Swap with the Taliban Push the Afghan Peace Process Forward?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

By: Scott Worden

It’s been over two months since President Trump announced a halt to U.S.-Taliban peace talks. In a move that could revive the moribund peace process, the Afghan government and Taliban completed a prisoner exchange that had been announced last week but then delayed. An American and Australian professor held by the Taliban were freed in return for three senior Taliban figures. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s September 28 presidential election remains undecided, further complicating peace efforts. USIP’s Scott Worden looks at what impact the prisoner exchange could have on the peace process, how regional actors have sought to fill the vacuum in the absence of the U.S.-led talks and the connection between negotiations and the election.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Scott Worden on Afghan Elections and the Peace Process

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

By: Scott Worden

A week and a half after Afghan presidential polls, the results remain unclear. But, we do know that turnout was historically low, largely due to dire security conditions. Meanwhile, with the peace process stalled, USIP’s Scott Worden says the upsurge in U.S. military operations against the Taliban is a “pressure tactic, not a victory strategy.”

Electoral Violence; Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

What to Watch for in Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

What to Watch for in Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

By: Scott Worden; Colin Cookman

After several delays, Afghans will finally head to the polls on Saturday to elect their next president. The election comes amid an indefinite stall in the year-long U.S.-Taliban negotiations following the cancellation of a high-level summit earlier in the month. There has been a debate over the sequencing of elections and the peace process for months, but the vote will move ahead this weekend. As with all post-2001 Afghan elections, security risks and the potential for fraud and abuse loom over these polls. USIP’s Scott Worden and Colin Cookman look at how insecurity will impact the legitimacy of the vote and what measures have been taken to combat electoral mismanagement and fraud.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Electoral Violence; Democracy & Governance

View All