The war in Afghanistan is one of the greatest challenges to Norway and to institutions of pivotal importance to Norway. The international community has been deeply involved in Afghanistan for more than seven years. Some progress has been achieved, but still the country bears the stamp of war, with severe political division on many levels, and extreme poverty. The Taliban still stands strong in the country, despite heavy fighting with NATO since 2006. In recent years, the Taliban and other groups hostile to the government have also bolstered their position in Pakistan considerably.
Afghanistan is a deeply fragmented and complex society. Afghan authorities and the international community are trying to build and consolidate political structures, democratic processes and state instruments (i.e. army and police) and at the same time wage war on the Taliban. This inevitably creates violent upheaval between different ethnic groups, between tradition and modernism, and between centre and periphery. The programme’s primary focus will be to understand the dynamics of these processes.
The conflict lines in Afghanistan are tightly linked to the regional power balance and the political development in the neighbouring countries. Not least, there is a close connection between the conflicts in Afghanistan and the disquieting development in Pakistan. The programme will in particular emphasise the numerous internal challenges of Pakistan.
Afghanistan has in periods been regarded as a buffer between Central and South Asia. The country may also, especially where energy transportation is concerned, be seen as a potential bridge between different regions. This regional perspective would have to include Iran, Russia, the countries of Central Asia, China and India. These regional dynamics constitute the second focus of the research programme.
Despite years of demand for improved cooperation and coordination between the great number of states and international organisations active in the country, the international presence still appears fragmented. There are widespread political and professional differences between these actors. Each of them is affected by internal political discussions that impact on their interests and activities in Afghanistan.The relations and the relative strength between these actors will be the third focus of the programme.
Norway is a small, though by no means insignificant, actor in Afghanistan. Norway has vital national interests attached to institutions such as the UN, NATO and the EU and also to its relations with the US, Great Britain and Germany. The balance between them and between the consideration for them and for what actually has to be achieved in Afghanistan is delicate. Norway has to consider its interests, values and inner tensions when Norwegian Afghanistan policy is formed. The tasks of Norwegian military and Norwegian humanitarian actors are not identical. The shaping of Norwegian policy and strategy in Afghanistan is the fourth focus of the research programme.
The programme aims at understanding the dynamics between the conflict-ridden Afghan society and a fragmented international community in a complex regional context. To understand Norway’s role in this setting will be a priority.
Theoretically, the programme will be concerned with the dynamics of regional conflict complexes, with externally driven state building, with an emphasis on the relation between – and the sequencing of – military and civilian measures. Furthermore, it will deal with the development of military doctrines and of theory and practice within security-sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration (DDR). These are all fields where NUPI already possesses considerable competence.
The Afghanistan and Pakistan Programme will have participants from several NUPI departments. It is an applied research programme aimed at giving recommendations to Norwegian authorities and taking part actively in the international discourse in the field.
The programme was established in August 2008. It comprises a series of sub-projects financed by the Ministry of Defence, the Norwegian Research Council, the Police Directorate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As of 2009, the programme has a core group of seven researchers and counsellors. In addition, other experts, both from NUPI and other institutions, will take part in sub-projects. The programme is planned to conclude in 2011.
The main area of the Project is to study the correlation between experience, operational activity and strategic goals of the involvement in Afghanistan. More
Five policy briefs from NUPI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Programme to inform Norwegian and international policy makers on the challenges ahead in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region as a whole. More
The goal of the conference is to share experiences from actors in the field and discussing donor cooperation, the cooperation between NATO and the UN in Afghanistan, and the transference of authority and responsibilities to the Afghani government. More
- Sverdrup, Ulf , Joakim Hertzberg Ulstein, Mikkel Frøsig Pedersen, Halvard Leira, Ståle Ulriksen (2013). Norske interesser - sett fra utestasjonene. Oslo, NUPI. 43 pages.
- Hansen, Vegard Valther, Trine Nikolaisen, Helge Lurås (2012). Etter beste evne . Oslo, NUPI-rapport . 19 pages. Security in Practice. Denne rapporten gir en kort oversikt over Forsvarets innsats innen Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) i Afghanistan. Forsvarets arbeid har vært rettet inn mot Afghan National Army (ANA). Hensikten er å gi anbefalinger om fortsettelsen av dette arbeidet i Afghanistan, men også å skape et erfaringsgrunnlag for eventuelt liknende oppdrag i fremtiden.
- Ulriksen, Ståle (2012). Et nytt "great game"?, url]
- de Carvalho, Benjamin , Cedric H. de Coning, Mikkel Frøsig Pedersen, Audun Solli
(2011). Training in vain? Bottlenecks in Deploying Civilians for UN Peacekeeping,
in International Peacekeeping, vol. 18, no 4.Routledge.p. 425-438.The article explores the bottlenecks hampering the recrutiment and deployment of trained personnel, especially civilians. An increased number of trained personnel has not translated into higher deployment rates. Unless the UN and international training programmes address this paradox, the risk of training in vain will remain. [url]
- Ulriksen, Ståle
(2010). Webs of War: Managing Regional Conflict Formations in West Africa and Central Africa,
in Harpviken, Kristian Berg [ed.], Troubled Regions and Failing States: The Clustering and Contagion of Armed Conflict, Comparative Social Research, Volume 27.Bingley, Emerald.p. 355-380.This article argues that many armed, non-state groups in West Africa and Central Africa should be seen as regional actors, and thus that conventional two-level analysis does not catch the complexity of conflict in those regions. [url]
- de Coning, Cedric H., Mikkel Frøsig Pedersen, Walter Lotze (2010). Summary Report. Norwegian Standby Roster for Civilian Observers (NOROBS). Oslo, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. 11 pages. NUPI-rapport. The report explores recent developments within international peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding operations with regard to use of civilian roster capacities, and compares recent developments in the Nordic region.
- de Coning, Cedric H., Mikkel Frøsig Pedersen, Walter Lotze (2010). Scoping Study. Norwegian Standby Roster for Civilian Observers (NOROBS). Oslo, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. 73 pages. NUPI-rapport. The report explores recent developments within international peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding operations with regard to use of civilian roster capacities, and compares recent developments in the Nordic region.
- de Coning, Cedric H., Niels Nagelhus Schia, Ståle Ulriksen, Helge Lurås (2009). Norway's Whole-of-Government Approach and its Engagement with Afghanistan. Oslo, NUPI. 52 pages. Security in Practice no. 8. This Report conclude that Norway lacks a comprehensive strategy for engaging in fragile states in general, as well as a whole-of-government strategy for any particular country, including Afghanistan.
- Solli, Audun , Cedric H. de Coning, Benjamin de Carvalho, Mikkel Frøsig Pedersen (2009). Bottlenecks to Deployment? The Challenges of Deploying Civilian Personnel to Peace operations. Oslo, NUPI. 36 pages. NUPI Report. The present report addresses the role of training programmes with respect to the deployment of personnel in peace operations.
- Stamnes, Eli , Jon Harald Sande Lie, Kristin M. Haugevik, Ståle Ulriksen, Nicholas J. Wheeler, Dorota Gierycz , Turid Lægreid (2009). The Principle and Practice of R2P: Whose Responsibility, What Kind of Action?. Oslo, NUPI. 17 pages. Summary of Project.