Afghanistan: Fostering meaningful, effective, and sufficiently inclusive peace negotiations

The overall goal of this work is to support Afghan-driven efforts to resolve the protracted conflict and to restore sustainable peace. The project focuses on supporting our Afghan partners to coordinate and manage relevant 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 focuses on three objectives, namely:

  • Enhancing trust between conflicting parties, which will inject more resilience into the process and decrease the likelihood of break-downs;
  • Supporting the most-needed capacities on all sides and a framework for peace by providing expertise in conflict analysis and negotiation skills, as well as through mediation support;
  • Contributing to the inclusivity of the peace process.

Timeframe

2016-2020

The current context of the Afghan conflict is marked by both opportunities and hopes for a peaceful settlement, as well as heightened concerns and risks. 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 once again 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 a variety of actors with (often) competing interests at the national, regional and international levels.

The recent acceleration of activity around a peace process, which has started to raise expectations amongst the Afghan population, has also heightened the pressure on all relevant actors inside and outside Afghanistan to match these expectations. A peace agreement could create framework conditions more conducive to building peace. However, overcoming the deeply rooted cleavages, restoring trust in institutions and law, and building a new and viable social contract will require more than a signed document.

At the heart of a peaceful transformation of the conflict lies the establishment of a peace process. It is of paramount importance that the engagement between the conflicting parties continues in a structured way that creates a platform, through which the main issues of contention between the parties can be settled by way of political negotiations. It is in this context that the Berghof Foundation was requested to assist in creating capacity for peace in the country through the provision of research-based technical and process-related support.

We aim 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 requested by the partners;
  • training and coaching including via the transfer of lessons learned from other contexts;
  • provision of mediation support.

Highlights

Oct. 2016 Project launch

The project was officially launched in Kabul in October 2016. The event was hosted by the High Peace Council’s leadership in Kabul together with the German Embassy and the Berghof Foundation. The work 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.

May 2017 Kick-off Workshop in Berlin

The project’s first big workshop in the form of a five-day training took place in May 2017 in Berlin. The participants had the opportunity to engage with experts and each other on an array of topics ranging from peace negotiations to strategic communication, with input from several relevant cases from around the world.

Nov. 2017 Study visit to Indonesia

The study-visit was comprised of a three-day workshop and facilitated discussions during which the Afghan partners were given the opportunity to engage and reflect on the Afghan peace process with Indonesian peers, as well as experts from other contexts, who have played a key role in peace processes around the world including in the Philippines, Nepal, Tunisia, Colombia, and Thailand, among others. News >

Sep. 2018 Study visit to Nepal

During the one-week visit to Kathmandu, the Afghan partners participated in a workshop supported by international experts focusing on selected key areas of peace processes, including comparative experiences from different national dialogues. A range of meetings with Nepali peers offered the opportunity to engage in facilitated discussions about lessons learnt from the country’s own peace process.

Oct. 2018 Workshop Kabul

Berghof and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan jointly hosted a week-long workshop, focusing on peace negotiations and strategic communication. It offered representatives of the Provincial Peace Committees from across the country the opportunity to engage with each other and to exchange on common challenges and best practices of how to face them.

July 2019 Intra-Afghan Dialogue

On 7 and 8 July 2019, in a historic first, representatives of the Afghan government, political opposition groups and civil society as well as the Taliban (all in their personal capacity) sat down together for a dialogue meeting in Doha, Qatar. The “Intra-Afghan Conference for Peace”, co-hosted by the German and Qatari governments brought together 61 Afghans from a wide range of political and societal groups. The Berghof Foundation supported the German government in the preparation and implementation of the event. Closed-door sessions, moderated by Berghof, allowed for initial trust building through an open and unfiltered exchange.

We work closely with all Afghan stakeholders with significant roles in the Afghan peace 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 to the process.

The project is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.