CSRC Working Paper 66

Negotiating with the Taliban: toward a solution for the Afghan conflict
Working Paper No : 66 (series 2)
Author: Talatbek Masadykov, Antonio Giustozzi, James Michael Page
Date : January 2010

The principal author of this paper, Talatbek Masadykov, has worked in Afghanistan as a Political Affairs Officer, as Head of UNAMA Field Office and as Chief of the Political Affairs Division. He spent some time as a Visiting Fellow with the Crisis States Research Centre in 2008 and this paper was mainly written prior to the Afghan presidential elections in August 2009.

The paper discusses the debate on reconciliation and negotiations with the Taliban, its future prospects and the role of the United Nations within it. It provides an outline of the current conflict as well as a discussion of the role of the UN and ISAF , from both a political and a legal perspective. The paper argues that the very fact the conflict in its various phases has been going on for so long offers opportunities for reconciliation. The main part of the paper is dedicated to analysing the position of the different actors vis-à-vis negotiations. The authors deal with both pro-Afghan government and anti-government players, as well as with international actors, and review in detail the past initiatives aimed at reconciliation, offering an explanation as to why they did not succeed. The conclusion highlights some possible future steps that could be taken.