The overall goal of Berghof Foundation’s work in this region is to support Afghan-driven efforts to resolve the protracted conflict and to achieve resilient and sustainable peace.
Timeframe: 2016 - ongoing
Our efforts in Afghanistan aim to support Afghan stakeholders in establishing sustainable and resilient peace by strengthening their individual and collective capacity to design and implement nonviolent conflict transformation as a self-owned and self-led process.
The work focuses on six objectives, namely:
- Supporting the most-needed capacities and a framework for sustainable peace by providing expertise in a range of areas, as well as through dialogue and mediation support;
- Contributing to make the political process more inclusive and in turn more sustainable;
- Contributing to the establishment of local peacebuilding mechanisms as well as locally-driven development initiatives in order to address drivers of conflict;
- Supporting the establishment of constructive dialogue between key Afghan stakeholders and relevant peers in the region;
- Supporting genuine conciliation across a range of existing cleavages (violent and non-violent conflicts) through the facilitation of dialogue and conciliation processes as well as approaches to dealing with the past;
- Contribute to the process of building legitimate and durable infrastructures for peace.
- The current context of the Afghan conflict is marked by both hopes for sustainable conflict transformation as well as heightened concerns and risks. Afghanistan has witnessed a bitter period of instability and conflict since the 1970s. It has suffered from 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 a ‘war on terror’. The US and its allies’ military intervention resulted in the fall of the Taliban movement and the establishment of a new political system. Violence, however, continued to be a daily reality in the country. The Afghan government and its international allies were fighting against armed opposition groups including the Taliban movement. The conflict grew 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 US-Taliban Agreement signed on 29 February 2020 and the official start of negotiations between the Taliban and representatives of the now ousted former government on 12 September 2020, there was a renewed sense of hope for peace. The intra-Afghan negotiations made some progress towards an agreement and surpassed the expectations of many in generating a degree of mutual understanding between the conflict parties. They did not, however, succeed in drawing the focus away from the dynamics unfolding on the battlefield. With the implementation of the withdrawal by the US and its allies, the Taliban made unprecedented advances across the country, encountering less than vigorous resistance. On 15 August 2021, after the former Afghan President’s unannounced departure and the subsequent collapse of the government and security structures, the Taliban took control of Kabul.
- These developments, while representing a significant change in framework conditions, do not in themselves mean an end of the political process that yet needs to be completed. The urgent need for sustainable conflict transformation, including the challenge of tackling the root causes of the country’s conflicts, persists. The elements of support to the building of viable peace infrastructures and to work on conciliation through mediation, negotiation and dialogue support, remain core elements of our engagement.
- Overcoming the deeply rooted cleavages, restoring trust in institutions and law, and building a new and viable social contract will require time and an inclusive process. It is of paramount importance that the engagement between different stakeholders continues in a structured way and creates a platform through which main grievances can be addressed. It is in this context that the Berghof Foundation works to assist in creating capacities for peace and supports sustainable conflict transformation.
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 supported the intra-Afghan peace negotiations by maintaining a continuous presence in Doha and offering our expert advice and support to the two sides.
Partners and funding
We work closely with all Afghan stakeholders relevant for sustainable conflict transformation. We closely coordinate with the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Embassy as well as a range of other international actors active in the context.
The work is implemented through a project funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Updates from this work:
- Germany’s longest military mission ends 21 Jun 2021
- Climate and conflict as a vicious cycle: The case of Afghanistan 11 May 2021
- 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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