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Several Reports About Afghanistan From the U.S. Institute of Peace

April 6, 2015 Comments off

Several Reports About Afghanistan From the U.S. Institute of Peace
Source: United States Institute of Peace

Political and Economic Dynamics of Herat
The city of Herat sits in Afghanistan’s most western province, on the border with Iran, and is significant on several counts. A major trading hub and the largest city in the region, it is in some respects an exemplar for the entire country. One the one hand it is a prevailing spirit of enterprise, on the other persistent insecurity and ad hoc urban development. How the new national unity government in Kabul unfolds will have significant implications for how Herat is able to meet the challenges for its social development and economic growth.

Political Parties in Afghanistan
Political parties in Afghanistan are often dismissed by international and Afghan observers as unruly and highly personalized organizations that contribute little to the democratic process. Yet they continue to play a part in shaping the political landscape, albeit in what might be considered unorthodox ways. This report assesses their history, role, and activities over the last decade and how their future might unfold under and contribute to the country’s new unity government.

Islamic Law, Customary Law and Afghan Informal Justice
As Afghanistan’s nascent democracy works to establish the rule of law across the country, it finds itself contending with the ways that Islamic law converges and diverges from the tribal norms that shape the settling of disputes outside Kabul. Based on surveys conducted in Afghanistan, this report examines the points of tension and agreement between Islamic and customary laws, looking into both of their pasts to suggest a way forward for the Afghan state, particularly in granting greater rights and protections to women.

Neutrality in Afghanistan’s Foreign Policy
President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 leaves that country once again wide open for an intensified regional race for strategic influence in the country. The majority of experts—both Afghan and international—agree that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan require internationally backed regional arrangements. A recent forum involving high-profile Afghan politicians, former diplomats, and civil society leaders underscores this consensus and the long-term vision of an “Afghan-led and Afghanistan-specific enduring neutrality.” This report focuses on the historical aspects of neutrality as a first step toward neutrality-based diplomatic solutions for both the immediate Afghan conflict and the country’s long-term positioning.

Supporting Afghan Women in the 2014 Transition
The 2014 elections in Afghanistan saw great promise for advancing the status of women, with unprecedented voter turnout among women and powerful rhetoric from presidential candidates. As the new administration sets its agenda, this report offers guidelines for Afghan leaders to fulfill their campaign promises by strengthening women’s political participation, access to justice, and involvement in the security sector.

The United States and R2P: From Words to Action

July 23, 2013 Comments off

The United States and R2P: From Words to Action
Source: U.S. Institute of Peace

In this report, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Ambassador Richard S. Williamson identify concrete steps to increase U.S. capacity in preventing mass atrocities.

As chairs of the Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect, they examine the utility of the R2P principle for the prevention of mass violence. The Working Group is co-hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Brookings Institution.

Summary

  • Implementing R2P faces political, institutional, and operational challenges. Expanding the set of tools for policymakers, supporting justice and accountability mechanisms, and narrowing the gap between warning and responses remain operational challenges to be met. Evolving U.S. and global institutions present new but uncertain opportunities for addressing mass atrocities.
  • The Responsibility to Protect places primary emphasis on preventing mass atrocities before they begin. Acting before violence erupts or escalates allows for a wider array of tools and reduces both the financial and human costs of intervention, whatever form it takes.
  • This report recommends a number of steps be taken to strengthen R2P: articulating a clear vision of U.S. support for all pillars of R2P, diplomatically engaging key like-minded states, pursuing a policy of positive engagement with the International Criminal Court (ICC), continuing to institutionalize steps to prevent atrocities, and developing additional uses for modern technologies to advance R2P objectives.

These recommendations provide a roadmap for the U.S. to enhance its global leadership on atrocity prevention and for the international community to advance its collective capacity to fulfill its obligations under the responsibility to protect.

Lessons from Afghanistan’s History for the Current Transition and Beyond

October 1, 2012 Comments off

Lessons from Afghanistan’s History for the Current Transition and Beyond (PDF)

Source: U.S. Institute of Peace

Despite interesting patterns from the past and at least superficially striking parallels with the present, policies on Afghanistan have not been adequately informed by an understanding of the country’s history. Nor has the extensive academic literature on Afghan history been translated into policy; on the contrary, much that has been attempted in Afghanistan since late 2001 has been remarkably ahistorical. This report identifies broad historical patterns and distills relevant lessons that may be applicable to policies during the 2011 to 2014 transition and beyond.

Anti-Corruption Provisions are Key for Making Peace Agreements Sustainable

July 25, 2011 Comments off

Anti-Corruption Provisions are Key for Making Peace Agreements Sustainable
Source: United States Institute of Peace

In a new study, “Negotiating Peace and Confronting Corruption” from the United States Institute of Peace, author Bertram I. Spector argues that peace and economic recovery in countries emerging from violent conflict are more likely and more durable when good governance reforms and corruption controls are included in negotiations ending the conflict.

Spector examines the negotiated peace process in six cases—El Salvador, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Papua New Guinea and Liberia—specifically looking at how and in what form integrity provisions were negotiated into the agreements. In each case, he identifies lessons learned, where the peace agreements and implementations left gaps, and where new solutions are still needed. Spector analyzes the six cases against a control group of seven countries recently emerged from conflict where anticorruption and good governance provisions were not explicitly elaborated in peace treaties. Comparing the two groups on indicators of official development assistance, corruption control, political stability, and economic growth, he finds that postconflict countries where reestablishing integrity was high on the agenda fared better than those in the control group.

But negotiating a good forward-looking agreement cannot by itself guarantee peace with corruption kept in check; how the agreement is implemented is just as crucial. To effectively implement an agreement, the parties to it—as well as interested bilateral donors and international organizations—must support integrity provisions and safeguards through technical and financial assistance.

+ Full Report

Bin Laden: What does it mean for Peace?

May 2, 2011 Comments off

Bin Laden: What does it mean for Peace?
Source: United States Institute of Peace

USIP’s Steve Heydemann notes that the Arab Spring has created an opening for Arabs to express their views in a new way, and that the death of Bin Laden may test that newfound voice. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces in a large compound outside Islamabad, Pakistan on Sunday. “Even if you get negative reactions from some sectors in the Arab world, I would hope that the political environment is such that those sentiments won’t automatically feed into extremist movements,” Heydemann says.

Round-up of related analyses

U.S. Institute of Peace Publishes New Report on the Disputed Territories in Iraq

April 5, 2011 Comments off

U.S. Institute of Peace Publishes New Report on the Disputed Territories in Iraq
Source: U.S. Institute of Peace

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) announces the publication of “Iraq’s Disputed Territories: A View of the Political Horizon and Implications for U.S. Policy,” a new Peaceworks report that illustrates in a detailed and specific way what Iraqi-negotiated solutions to the disputed province of Kirkuk and other territories in northern Iraq might look like.

Author Sean Kane, a program officer at USIP writing in his personal capacity, draws upon two data sets — the political preferences expressed in these territories during Iraq’s three postconstitution elections and archival records detailing these areas’ respective administrative histories — to demystify the disputed territories that are referred to but not defined in Iraq’s constitution, and then suggests possible options for resolving their status. The author also provides recommendations for how the United States could offer a mix of diplomatic and security incentives to help shape the strategic calculus of Iraqi stakeholders in favor of entering comprehensive territorial negotiations.

+ Full Report (PDF)

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