Caroline A Hartzell, Professor of Political Science, Gettysburg College

This paper argues that a comparative perspective on peace processes could help to inject new energy into efforts to think about the shape that an Afghan peace process might take.

Lizette Potgieter / Shutterstock.comLizette Potgieter /
  • A growing body of research on civil wars suggests that inclusive peace processes and inclusive settlements of conflicts have a higher likelihood of producing a stable peace than do military victories. This is worth emphasizing given an emerging trend whereby military victories are apparently again becoming accepted as a legitimate means of ending civil wars.
  • A peace process in Afghanistan does not appear to be imminent. One key reason for this is that the conflict is currently not ‘ripe’ for resolution. Parties to the conflict do not perceive themselves to be engaged in a ‘mutually hurting stalemate’. Intra-elite conflicts such as the recent political impasse surrounding the Afghan presidential election have also contributed to this lack of ‘ripeness’.
  • Although the international community conceivably could help to encourage the emergence of a mutually hurting stalemate among the conflict actors through something other than military means, it has not yet shown a willingness to do so.
  • A comparative perspective on peace processes could help to inject new energy into efforts to think about the shape that an Afghan peace process might take. One of the ways it could do so is by helping to inform a national dialogue on inclusive peace processes. While a dialogue of this nature is not a substitute for an actual peace process, it could help to facilitate the latter.