An independent assessment of the Afghanistan peace process June 2018 - May 2021


Summary: This report is intended to contribute to the rethinking of approaches to peace-making in Afghanistan, in the 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 was conducted by a team of three experienced analysts of Afghanistan. The analysts conducted some forty semi-structured interviews with Afghans and international figures, each of whom was identified for competence with regard to aspects of the post- 2018 peace process. The members of the research team also drew on their own in-depth experience of the peace process in this period and a review of published sources. In conducting the research and drafting the review, the authors enjoyed full independence and therefore take responsibility for the interpretations and recommendations contained in it.

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 years US-led peace initiative and the changed circumstances brought about by the international military forces withdrawal. 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.