The overall goal of Berghof’s work in this region is to support Afghan-driven efforts to resolve the protracted conflict and to restore resilient and sustainable peace.
Timeframe: 2016 - ongoing
Our work in Afghanistan aims to enable Afghan stakeholders to establish a sustainable and resilient peace process by strengthening their individual and collective capacity to design and implement nonviolent conflict transformation as a self-owned and self-led process.
The project focuses on four objectives, namely:
- 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;
- Enhancing trust between conflicting parties and building safety nets into the peace process to decrease the likelihood of breakdowns;
- Contribute to making the Afghan peace process more inclusive and in turn more sustainable;
- Contribute to the process of building locally-owned and -led, reliable, and legitimate infrastructures for peace.
The current context of the Afghan conflict is marked by both 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. It is one of the deadliest civil and insurgency wars in the world. 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 movement followed by the events of 9/11 brought Afghanistan once again into international focus. The US declared war on the Afghan Taliban movement. The US and its allies’ military intervention resulted in the fall of the Taliban movement 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 movement. 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. Inside of Afghanistan, the protracted conflict has led to deep divisions along ethnic, linguistic, rural vs. urban, and religious lines.
With the U.S.-Taliban Agreement signed on 29 February 2020 and the official start of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan state on 12 September 2020, there is a renewed sense of hope for peace in Afghanistan. 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 sustainable transformation of the conflict lies the establishment of an inclusive and resilient peace process. It is of paramount importance that the engagement between the conflicting parties continue in a structured way, creating 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 works to assist in creating capacities for peace and embed the peace process into a safety net through the provision of state of the art technical and process-related support.
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.
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.
August 2019 to August 2020: Virtual and in-person workshops
A number of technical workshops focusing on negotiations and process design took place remotely as well as in person (Kabul).
Sep 2020: Beginning of Peace Talks in Doha, Qatar
Berghof Foundation continues to support Germany’s role in the peace process.
Partners and funding
We work closely with all Afghan stakeholders relevant to the peace process. We closely coordinate with the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Kabul as well as a range of other international actors active in the context.
The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Updates from this work:
- Latest developments in the Afghan peace process: A commentary 21 Dec 2020
- Die aktuellen Entwicklungen der Intra-Afghanischen Friedensverhandlungen: Ein Kommentar 21 Dec 2020
- Berghof welcomes Afghan breakthrough agreement 2 Dec 2020
- Attention turns to intra-Afghan talks following news of U.S.-Taliban deal 3 Mar 2020
- Thoughts on the anniversary of the start of the Second World War 4 Sep 2019
- Intra-Afghan Conference for Peace signals hope for the people of Afghanistan 23 Jul 2019
- Thoughts on Ramadan 2019 – Will there soon be peace in Afghanistan? 15 May 2019
- New publication on conflict resolution in Afghanistan 15 Jan 2019
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