The peace process in Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture. With international troops set to withdraw, peace talks resuming in Doha, and widespread reporting of Taliban territory gains, the changing circumstances have raised many questions about the way forward.
A new report from the Political Settlements Research Programme reviews the current state of the peace process over the last three years and offers policy recommendations for a new direction in Afghan peacemaking.
An independent assessment of the Afghanistan peace process June 2018 – May 2021 was conducted by a team of three experienced analysts of Afghanistan: Prof. Michael Semple, Queen’s University Belfast; Ambassador Robin L. Raphel, former US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia; and Shams Rasikh, independent researcher. The report is intended to contribute to the rethinking of approaches to peace-making in Afghanistan, in light of the high-profile peace initiative which took place between 2018 and 2021 and in the wake of the April 2021 US decision to conduct an unconditional troop withdrawal. The review considers the main lines of action in the peace process over the last three years, the obstacles which impeded progress towards peace, and the lessons learned.
The next phase of peace talks will be among Afghans, likely led by an Afghan government. This report develops a set of policy recommendations for coordinated Afghan and international actions for an incremental transformation of the conflict, based on changes on the ground in which the Taliban have launched a military offensive and Afghanistan faces the real threat of civil war without a US security umbrella.
The authors recommend continuing international engagement in support of the Afghanistan peace process but propose significant changes in approach, to reflect both the lessons of the two-and-a-half year US-led peace initiative and the changed circumstances brought about by the withdrawal of international military forces. The authors propose a six-pillar architecture to shape the integrated and multi-faceted approach to peace that can meet the challenges of the post-withdrawal Afghanistan: security, dialogue and Taliban engagement, violence reduction, state resilience, consensus building and strategic communications, and diplomacy.
Read and download the full report including policy recommendations: An independent assessment of the Afghanistan peace process June 2018 – May 2021.