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Incremental Peace in Afghanistan

After 40 years of civil war, Incremental Peace in Afghanistan highlights a need for a radical new approach to peace in the country - one that builds progressive steps towards peace and includes Afghan society as a whole. It argues that the process must begin with measures to reduce violence as a basis to build confidence in a more fundamental change over time.

Afghanistan is at a crossroads facing two possible futures: indefinite violent conflict, or gradual progress towards sustainable peace. Choices made now over strategy, tactics and resources can tip the balance either way.

Anna Larson, Accord 27 Issue Editor

Contributors span a range of perspectives and insights of Afghan and international men and women from academia, the military, government, armed opposition and civil society, many with direct experience of conflict and peace in Afghanistan.

The Accord argues that a progressive, step-by-step process towards political settlement offers a way to move beyond the peace rhetoric, which builds stability, confidence and legitimacy over time.

An incremental approach must pursue two objectives. First, short-term to reduce violence which inevitably involves a central role for the conflict parties, principally the Taliban and the Afghan government. And second, long-term to renegotiate an inclusive social contract representative of all Afghans, which is only achievable with involvement and ultimately endorsement across Afghan society.

An Afghan settlement does not necessarily mean a single comprehensive peace deal, signed off by all parties. A more viable model could consist of an incremental series of agreements, reforms and joint actions connecting the parallel processes, which cumulatively contribute to confidence and improvement of conditions on the ground, probably over a period of years.

Professor Michael Semple, Author of Accord 27 and Afghanistan Peace practitioner

The publication is split into three sections. Section one learns lessons from Afghanistan’s history of peacemaking. Sections two and three explore possibilities for peaceful transition looking ahead, focusing on peace initiatives and then institutional change.



This publication is an output of the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) – a four-year project to better understand how political settlements are reconfigured in conflict and peace processes, and how forms of ‘horizontal’ elite inclusion can be transformed into more ‘vertical’ forms of societal inclusion. As part of this project, Conciliation Resources has also produced an Accord Spotlight on Afghanistan – Processing Peace in Afghanistan.


Issue editor

Dr Anna Larson


Dr Anna Larson is the Accord 27 Issue Editor and a Senior Teaching Fellow in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has worked as a researcher in Afghanistan, writing on politics, democratisation and peace in Afghanistan since 2005. Anna is co-author with Noah Coburn of Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape(Columbia, 2014), and holds a PhD in post-war recovery from the University of York.

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