An Insider’s View: Lessons from the Afghan Peace Process 2001-2021

The complex case of Afghanistan is crucial for understanding contemporary peacemaking challenges. The new “Insider’s View” by Baryalai Helali, former Chief of Staff of the Afghanistan government’s Negotiation Team Directorate, offers a firsthand account of the Afghan peace process from 2001 to 2021.

Baryalai Helali, also the inaugural recipient of FBA’s Peace Process Fellowship programme*, adds a timely and important additional dimension to understanding contemporary peacemaking from the vantage point of a “conflict party”.  

An Insider’s View gives a fascinating account of the Afghan peace process by taking the reader through the backrooms and corridors of power in Kabul into to the negotiating theatre in Doha and its aftermath. Through the lens of an insider, Helali offers a front row seat to the events as they unfolded between the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, says Eldridge Adolfo, senior dialogue and peace mediation advisor at FBA.  

The publication not only chronicles Afghanistan’s complex journey towards peace and reconciliation over the past two decades but also sheds light on the broader challenges of international peacebuilding efforts. It emphasizes the importance of inclusivity, international support, and sustainable development for achieving lasting peace. 

–  Although the Afghan peace process ultimately did not succeed, the insights and lessons provided by An Insider’s View are pivotal in fostering local and national ownership of peace efforts. Adopting these lessons is critical as the peacemaking field continues to strive for greater professionalism, says Eldridge.  

Recommendations  

The comprehensive analysis by Baryalai uncovers several critical findings that shaped the course of the Afghan peace process while emphasizing valuable lessons learned. Concluding with strategic recommendations for future peace endeavors, Baryalai calls for Afghan-led resolutions, stressing the need to prioritize the sovereignty and self-determination of the Afghan people. He also underlines the necessity for broad international engagement and a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding that integrates security, governance, and socioeconomic development. 

– Together with other debriefings of third-party actors such as mediators, facilitators and observers, this publication contributes to forming a more complete view of contemporary peacemaking and helps further develop and improve our ability to support peace efforts, says Adolfo.  

Read the publication here: An Insider’s View: Lessons from the Afghan Peace Process 

 

*FBA Peace Process Fellowship Programme 

In 2022, FBA launched the Peace Process Fellowship Programme to address the complexities of modern peacemaking. This initiative seeks to glean insights from those directly involved in peace negotiations and mediations, focusing on the perspectives of conflict parties rather than third-party mediators. By understanding the decision-making processes and challenges faced by these parties, the programme aims to enhance the effectiveness of peace efforts and ensure local and national ownership of peace processes. 

Baryalai Helali served as the inaugural Fellow at FBA from 2022 to 2023. During his fellowship, he authored "An Insider’s View: Lessons from the Afghan Peace 2001-2021", sharing his experiences and views as an independent expert and former Chief of Staff of the Afghanistan government’s Negotiation Team Directorate, distinct from those of the FBA. 

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An Insider’s View: Lessons from the Afghan Peace Process, 2001-2021

This insider’s view gives a first-hand account of the Afghan peace process between the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban between 2001 and 2021.

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