Much of the debate about a peace settlement with insurgents in Afghanistan focuses only on political or territorial power sharing. But a successful peace process will require a broader array of measures that allow conflicting parties to share influence and balance that influence with more roles for noncombatants, civilian political actors, and vulnerable groups.

peaceworks

Summary

  • While the need for a peace process to end the conflict in Afghanistan becomes clearer with each passing month, there are deep doubts about the chances of achieving a settlement. While the challenges are formidable, they are also potentially surmountable with the right kind of process and settlement.
  • All the phases of a peace process are linked. Beginning a process requires more than a conducive military situation; it also calls for potential negotiation scenarios that can generate the confidence to take the initial steps. The kind of negotiation that takes place will influence the comprehensiveness, quality, and therefore sustainability of the outcome.

About the Report

This report, funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the product of a joint research project of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) to identify issues and options to support durable peace in Afghanistan. Previous publications stemming from the project include several USIP Peace Briefs and two research papers: Hamish Nixon, “Achieving Durable Peace: Afghan Perspectives on a Peace Process” (Oslo: PRIO, May 2011) and Deedee Derksen, “Peace from the Bottom-Up? The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program” (Oslo: PRIO, September 2011).

About the Authors

Hamish Nixon is project coordinator of the joint research project on durable peace in Afghanistan. He spent five years in Afghanistan working on governance with the World Bank and the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and has researched peace processes and post-conflict governance in Cambodia, El Salvador, and Afghanistan.

Caroline Hartzell was a 2010–11 Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and is professor of political science at Gettysburg College. She is researching the effects that civil war settlements have on post-conflict economic development, and is coauthor of Crafting Peace: Power-Sharing Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007). The authors would like to thank all those who spoke with them in Afghanistan and colleagues who provided comments on the paper.

 

Related Publications

Iran and Afghanistan’s Long, Complicated History

Iran and Afghanistan’s Long, Complicated History

Thursday, June 14, 2018

By: Scott Worden; USIP Staff

As neighbors with a 585-mile frontier, Iran and Afghanistan have connections spanning centuries. Since 1979—the year of Iran’s revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—relations between Tehran and Kabul have ebbed and flowed. USIP’s Scott Worden discusses the complex relationship between the two countries, how Iran has built influence there, and where the U.S. and Iranian interests have overlapped in relation to Kabul.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Scott Worden on the Taliban in Afghanistan

Scott Worden on the Taliban in Afghanistan

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

By: Scott Worden

A temporary cease-fire between the Afghan government and the Taliban to mark the end of Ramadan may offer an opportunity to pursue a more ambitious political solution to end the conflict in Afghanistan, says USIP’s Scott Worden. While there is a chance that the cease-fire—the first since the war began in 2001—will be fleeting, as cease-fires are fragile by nature, it is an important trust-building measure. Combined with Afghanistan’s neighbors recently expressing their desire for an end to the stalemate, the cease-fire could be the first step to a more enduring peace.

Violent Extremism

View All Publications