The overall goal of this project is to support Afghan-driven efforts to resolve the protracted conflict and to restore sustainable peace. The project focuses on supporting the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) in its role to coordinate and manage the peace process and other relevant government institutions and, in doing so, to build bridges between the Afghan government and the society as well as the government and opposition groups.
The project outlines three main objectives, namely:
1. Provision of research-based support to the Afghan government towards designing an effective negotiations process;
2. Provision of expertise in conflict analysis and negotiations skills;
3. Provision of support towards designing and implementing an effective strategic communication strategy.
Afghanistan has witnessed a bitter period of instability and conflict since the 1970s. The communist revolution was followed by the Soviet invasion that led to a long civil war and the almost total destruction of the state system. The emergence of the Taliban followed by the events of 9/11 brought Afghanistan back into international focus. The US declared war on the Afghan Taliban. The US and its allies’ military intervention resulted in the fall of the Taliban government and the establishment of a new democratic system. Violence, however, has continued to be a daily reality in the country. The Afghan government and its international allies are fighting against armed opposition groups including the Taliban. The conflict has grown increasingly complex over time due to the involvement of and (often) competing interests at the national, regional and international levels.
Since taking office in September 2014 and since the formation of the National Unity Government, peace has been on the top of President Ashraf Ghani’s agenda. At the heart of a peaceful transformation of the conflict lies the establishment of a peace process. It is of paramount importance that a structured and facilitated dialogue between the Afghan government and its armed opposition is designed where the main issues of contention between the warring parties can be settled through political negotiations. It is in this context that the Berghof Foundation was requested by the High Peace Council to assist the Afghan government in creating capacity for peace in the country through the provision of research-based technical and process-related support focused on negotiations and strategic communication.
The project aims to deliver on the above-mentioned goals through
- academic research and analysis;
- assessment of relevant policies/strategies;
- provision of targeted advice on specific aspects of negotiations when needed by the partners;
- training and coaching including via the transfer of lessons learned from other contexts;
- and the provision of imbedded support within the structures of the partner institutions.
The project is still in the very early phases of implementation as of Spring 2017. It was officially launched in Kabul in October 2016. The launch event was hosted by the High Peace Council’s leadership in Kabul together with the German Embassy and the Berghof Foundation. It has kicked off with two fact finding missions and a stakeholder analysis as the basis for joint development of a tailor-made and context-specific approach towards supporting an Afghan-led peace process.
Our main partner in Afghanistan is the High Peace Council (HPC). However, we also work closely with other Afghan government institutions that significantly influence the Afghan process. We also closely coordinate with the German Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Kabul in addition to the UN and other members of the international community that provide support for or are linked with the process.
The project is supported by the German Foreign Office.