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  • Author: Javed Noorani
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources, the value of which has been roughly estimated at as much as $1 trillion. The country may, however, be following a “paradox of plenty” path in tendering its mining sector to private investors. The risk is not insignificant. An unfortunate legacy of decades of internal conflict is the entrenchment and perpetuation of powerful political elites both in Kabul and in the provinces, which extends to the mining sector. The mining sector in Afghanistan today is characterized by irregularities and lack of transparency in the tender process, influence peddling, beneficial ownership of mining contracts by politically connected interests, unfulfilled legal and contractual requirements, and sub-stantial loss of government revenue. Despite provisions in the Mineral Law of 2010 and its 2014 revision, responsible government entities have largely failed to effectively regulate and monitor the mining sector. Companies have not been paying their financial dues for years and generally do not meet contractual provisions for either funding local development or responding to complaints and grievances from local communities, yet continue to operate with an absurd level of impunity. What is needed—in sum—is to develop a strategic long-term vision, including knowledge driven development of the mining sector, more mineral processing within Afghanistan, integration with other sectors of the economy, revised and expanded legislation, a recentralized licensing system, transparency in the tender process, due diligence, a mechanism for revenue and tax collection, NEPA review, and an involved and educated civil society.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Insisting that the Taliban accept the Afghan constitution is understandable insofar as the risks that peace talks could pose to Afghanistan's post-2001 achievements. Nonetheless, a periodic assessment of this condition is healthy, especially given the human toll of the ongoing insurgency and acknowledged shortcomings in the charter. To help Afghans make an informed choice on this dilemma, lessons can be drawn from other countries currently in talks to end decades-long insurgencies. Understanding the Taliban's possible constitutional demands as well as the Afghan constitution's amendment rules is also necessary. A comparison of the Afghan constitution and the Taliban's 2005 Order of the Islamic Emirate provides clues on what changes the movement might seek. The Taliban also have an over-arching “ownership problem” with the constitution because of their exile from Afghan political life at the time it was drafted. Key divergences between the Taliban order and the constitution relate to the sources of legitimacy for government and laws and marked differences on women's and minority rights. The two documents also contain more overlap than might be assumed. The Afghan constitution requires public input on proposed amendments through the convening of a popular assembly, or loya jirga. The constitution further designates fundamental aspects of the political system and Afghans' rights as unamendable. These rules could be strategically applied to constrain Taliban efforts to use negotiations to completely remake the current constitutional order. Debate over peace talks with the Taliban has tended to be framed in terms of potential risks. Negotiations could also present an opportunity to challenge the Taliban to justify some of its more unpopular constitutional positions to other Afghans and, in the best case, to help the Afghan government seize the political high ground.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Aarya Nijat, Jennifer Murtazashvili
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In the days after September 11, the international community’s desire to “rescue” Afghan women from their social, political, and economic fate was key to mobilizing global support to topple the Taliban regime. Since then, the Afghan government and the international community have invested vast resources seeking to improve the status of women in the country, primarily through programs to support women leaders in politics, business, and civil society. Drawn on interviews and focus group discussions with more than two hundred people, this report seeks to understand factors that contribute to the emergence of women leaders by identifying and assessing the past decade and a half’s efforts to promote women’s leadership.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Politics, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Peyton Cooke, Casey Johnson, Reza Fazli
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Youth recruitment into extremist groups in Afghanistan continues to be a major source of group building. In field studies and interviews conducted in three provinces to elicit views on extremist groups, both violent and nonviolent, and factors thought to induce youth to join such groups, violent extremist groups emerged as unpopular and mistrusted, being perceived as un-Islamic and controlled by foreign powers. Nonetheless, the activities and ideologies of such groups have not been effectively countered by the government of Afghanistan, civil society, or the international community. Programs to counter extreme violence should emphasize the Islamic basis of Afghan civil law, accommodate local differences, and be conducted in partnership with moderate voices and youth, with international organizations remaining in the background
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Terrorism, International Affairs, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Paul Fishstein , Murtaza Edries Amiryar
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The general expectation among Afghans after the fall of the Taliban was that the state, equipped with financial resources and technical assistance from the international community, would once again take the lead in the economic sphere. Instead, Kabul adopted a market economy. The move remains controversial in some quarters. This report, derived from interviews conducted in 2015 and 2010, takes stock of the competing ideologies in Afghanistan today with respect to the economy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The al-Qaeda presence in the Pech valley is greater now than when U.S. forces arrived in 2002, and counterterrorism efforts in the region continue. This report looks at U.S. military involvement in the Pech valley and the lessons it offers both the Afghan National Security Forces and the U.S. military. It is derived from interviews with some three hundred Americans and Afghans, including general officers, unit commanders, members of parliament, district and provincial governors, Afghan interpreters and U.S. and Afghan combat veterans.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Noah Coburn, Anna Larson
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As Afghanistan prepares for presidential elections in 2014, many young people are vocal about how the system appears to limit their meaningful participation in politics. Historically, young people in Afghanistan have challenged the status quo. However, it is possible to detect a declining trend from the early twentieth century to the present in the extent to which these challenges have been able to effect change in the political system. This trend has continued despite the technology and social media available to youth today, as the older generation of political leaders continues to monopolize the available political space and act as gatekeepers to that space.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Youth Culture, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Michelle Hughes
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan National Police (ANP) has made remarkable progress, but the challenges are urgent, and critical capabilities remain underdeveloped. Within the framework of the minister of interior's own Strategic Vision, opportunities will arise to close some of the capacity gaps in the coming years. Helping the ANP shift from a wartime footing to a contextually appropriate community policing model, and advancing professionalism within the ministry and the operating forces, is critical to sustainability. If a national police force is going to succeed, the linkage between policing and governance must be recognized and strengthened. Managing the expanding array of ANP donors and their activities poses a unique challenge that has yet to be addressed. It is an executive challenge for the Ministry of Interior and a coordination challenge for the international community. For both, it will require a long-term approach. To facilitate effective evidence-based operations (EvBO) and strengthen the relationship between the ANP and the communities it serves, U.S.-funded activities that build capacity for justice and governance need to be more closely aligned with ANP development.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Anastasiya Hozyainova
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A major priority for international donors since 2002 has been to promote and protect women's rights in Afghanistan. Substantial progress has been made, including much stronger formal protections for women in law. However, in practice, these legal protections are uncertain to survive the coming transition as these laws are neither universally accepted within Afghanistan nor evenly applied.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, Religion, Social Movement, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Frances Z. Brown
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The conclusion of the U.S.-led "surge" of 2009 onward and the closure of provincial recon¬struction teams and other local civil-military installations have affected how aid is delivered in Afghanistan's more remote and contested areas. The time is ripe for a recalibration of donor approaches to local governance and development in areas previously targeted by the surge. Specifically, foreign stakeholders should reexamine three central principles of their previous subnational governance strategy. First, donors should revise their conception of assisting service delivery from the previous approach, which often emphasized providing maximal inputs in a fragmented way, to a more restrained vision that stresses predictability and reliability and acknowledges the interlinked nature of politics, justice, and sectoral services in the eyes of the local population. Second, donors should reframe their goal of establishing linkages between the Afghan govern¬ment and population by acknowledging that the main obstacles to improving center-periph¬ery communication and execution are often political and structural rather than technical. Third, donors should revise the way they define, discuss, and measure local governance prog¬ress in contested areas, away from favoring snapshots of inputs and perceptions and toward capturing longer-term changes on the ground in processes, structures, and incentives. The coming political and development aid transition provides an overdue opportunity for Afghan governance priorities to come to the fore. At the same time, the ever growing chasm between Kabul's deliberations on the one hand and local governance as experienced in more remote, insurgency-wracked areas on the other presents renewed risks. In the short term, donors let the air out of the aid bubble carefully. In the long term, resolving Afghanistan's local governance challenges continues to demand sustained commitment and systematic execution.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States