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  • 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
  • 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: Patricia A. Gossman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Afghanistan, the social upheaval resulting from thirty-five years of war has created widely differing narratives of the conflict as various communities and political factions have reconstructed events through the lens of their experiences. Extensive dislocation of large segments of the population and poor communication throughout the war years meant that Afghans often had no way of knowing what was happening in different parts of the country. Although the war had several phases, earlier transitions—such as the collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992—failed to provide an opportunity for investigations into past human rights abuses because the conflict was ongoing. As a consequence, documentation remains thin. Conditions have made it difficult for human rights groups to function; additionally, many records have been either lost or destroyed. Since 2001, a number of initiatives were launched to investigate and document war crimes and human rights abuses. The relative openness of this period provided increased opportunities to document ongoing abuses occurring in the context of the Taliban insurgency and counterinsurgency effort. The most ambitious components of transitional justice, as envisioned by Afghan organizations and their international partners, however, appear to be indefinitely stalled given the failure of electoral vetting and the silencing of an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report that would have mapped all abuses in the three decades of conflict. No single report or archive can provide a definitive truth about the past. Such an archive, however, can serve, however imperfectly, as vital evidence in the effort to understand the complex array of factors that have played a part in conflict. Better documentation and access to other narratives could provide a counterweight to narrow or politically motivated interpretations of past events that could seed future conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Sadaf Lakhani
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While Afghanistan's economy has experienced strong growth in the past decade, declining levels of overseas development assistance beginning in 2014 are expected to substantially reduce the country's economic growth rate, with attendant political implications.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Natural Resources, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Zekria Barakzai
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The constitution of Afghanistan, though formally enshrining the internationally recognized standards of a “free, universal, secret, and direct vote” for elected institutions, is a flawed document with respect to many aspects of the electoral process. Deficiencies in the electoral legislation have been addressed. For the first time, the legislation governing the polls has been adopted by parliament rather than issued by decree. In addition, the commissioners for both the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) are appointed through a consultative process involving the legislature and judiciary, and not simply by presidential appointment as was the case previously.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Development, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Leonard S. Rubenstein, Rohini Jonnalagadda Haar
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The populations of states experiencing severe instability or unable to meet the basic functions of governance—referred to as fragile states—as well as those embroiled in conflict make up one-sixth of the world's population and suffer from far poorer health than their counterparts in other states at comparable stages of development. During many armed conflicts, health facilities and health workers come under attack, and infrastructure is often destroyed, inducing health workers to leave and undermining management capacity, thus further depleting health system competence to meet basic needs. Evidence is emerging that effective and equitable health services may be a central contributor to state legitimacy. All too often, health interventions in fragile and conflict-affected states are limited to humanitarian relief, which does not advance either health systems development or state legitimacy. Two decades of experience in development of health systems in fragile and conflict-affected states have shown a need to address weaknesses in policy, leadership, management capacty, human resources for health, supplies, service delivery, and data collection and evaluation through World Health Organization's (WHO) building blocks for health services. The military's record of engagement in civilian health systems development is poor, and its efforts to use health interventions to promote stability have not proven fruitful. Its most appropriate role in civilian health in fragile and conflict-affected states is to provide or support health services in highly insecure areas. Donors have not made health systems development in such states a priority in global health programs. Investments are often seen as politically or financially risky, and as having lower potential payoffs. Given the poor health indicators in these states, however, health devel¬opment in fragile and conflict-affected states should be a higher priority. Donors need to confront directly whether the goal of health development is stabilization or population health. Research is warranted on the relationships between health and armed conflict and between health development and state building.
  • Topic: Development, Health, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's history provides important insights and lessons for the 2011 to 2014 transition and beyond, but differences with the past must be taken into account. As the 1933 to 1973 decades demonstrate, the country can be stable and effectively governed, but that stability was anchored in the two pillars of traditional local governance and a centralized though weak state, both of which were gravely damaged after 1978. Given the country's history of chronic succession problems and associated conflict, the next presidential election, if successful, would be the first peaceful transfer of leadership since 1933 and only the fourth since 1747. Expectations about the pace of progress must be modest and the dangers of overly ambitious reforms leading to violent reactions recognized. Regional countries could derail peace prospects, and planning around such spoilers may be needed. The difficulties of reaching a peaceful solution during a military withdrawal, and the adverse consequences when such efforts fail, were demonstrated during the period from 1986 to 1992. The period after the Soviet withdrawal shows the potential and limitations of Afghan security forces: holding onto Kabul and other cities is probably the most that can be hoped for in the current transition. The option of arming and paying militias is dangerous because it opens the door to instability and predatory behavior. The Afghan economy is in much better shape than it was during and after the Soviet period, and a deep economic contraction in coming years needs to be avoided. Afghanistan will depend heavily on outside financial support for many years, and such support must not be abruptly cut back or stopped. Effective national leadership is critical during transitions. It is important not to overlearn from history, for example, Afghanistan's problematic experience over the past half-century with political parties, which are essential to successful democratic systems.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Islam, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Raymond Gilpin, John Forrer, Timothy L. Fort
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The business sector can promote prosperity and stability in conflict-prone and conflict affected regions through good corporate citizenship, but operating in these high-risk, high-reward environments is fraught with great difficulty. Many firms develop risk mitigation strategies designed to minimize exposure and cost without accounting for costs to the country, its population, and the environment. Poor risk management strategies combine with endemic corruption and myriad market failures and distortions resulting from weak economic governance to reinforce aspects of the political economy that could trigger and sustain violent conflict. Effectively addressing these failings could reduce business costs, increase efficiency, and improve governance and livelihoods in fragile regions. U.S. government policy documents, such as the Quadrennial Defense Review, Quadrennial Diplomacy and Defense Review, and National Security Strategy, allude to a potential role for firms in furthering stability and promoting peace but do not clearly analyze the complexities such endeavors entail or identify workable solutions. Strategies to capitalize on the immense potential of the business sector to foster peace must account for the size of firms, whether they are state or privately owned, which industries they are involved in, and their interconnectedness within supply chains. Key components of effective strategies include crafting incentives to reward investing firms that espouse good corporate citizenship, strengthening international initiatives that promote transparency and contain corruption, developing initiatives to more fully incorporate the local economy into global value chains, and introducing mechanisms to forge global consensus on appropriate conflict-sensitive business practices.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Poverty, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew Robertson
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: For many of the one and half billion people living in fragile states, violent conflict is the principal impediment to development, disrupting food production and destroying agricultural investments. Extension systems have improved agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability by providing technical and commercial information that changes farmer practice and could help farming communities struggling to deal with the consequences of war. Extension systems are, however, under substantial pressure, and most national budgets for extension are in long-term decline. Given such pressures, managers of extension systems will likely insist they are hard pressed to develop the competencies needed to support sustainable growth in agriculture, let alone accept additional responsibilities for peacebuilding. Decentralized, participatory market-driven extension systems have been successful in augmenting farmer capabilities with additional competencies, such as financial and market knowledge. Offering access to expertise (rather than expertise itself), agents in decentralized systems can respond quickly and effectively to varied farmer needs. Agents could use these same approaches to connect farmers to the experts and resources they need to manage conflict in their communities. Information technology can provide the capacity to match agricultural and conflict management expertise to farmer need. It can improve the reach and productivity of extension agents as it reduces the risk of inappropriate use of system resources. Training and technical support are necessary to improve transparency and accountability.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, Markets, Post Colonialism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Hodei Sultan, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In transitioning countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women are increasingly finding their rights limited by state and religious leaders. Cultural and national stereotypes can be quickly overcome by the shared backgrounds, accomplishments, obstacles, and aspirations of women in transitioning countries. Women living in countries in transition value opportunities to network with women from other countries in similar situations. Women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq have genuine concerns about the challenges facing women in the Arab Spring. Their valuable opinions are based on their own experiences of overcoming those challenges. It is essential that women work together and with men to further women's rights. Women must plan for a transition before it happens and have a strategy of work going into the transition process. Laws empowering and protecting women do not work if they are not enforced. International donors need a long-term view of women's programming, as much of the required work will take time. Donors should consider nonurban areas when working with women, and when possible nonelite partners, as these leaders understand the limitations of local conditions. It is possible for women's groups to find common ground with religious leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia