The Roadblock of Contested Recognition: Identity-Based Justice Claims as an Obstacle to Peace Negotiations in Afghanistan

  • Arvid BellEmail author
Part of the Studien des Leibniz-Instituts Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung book series (SLIHSFK)


In attempts to end violent conflict, justice concerns of the fighting parties can pose particularly problematic obstacles. This chapter focuses on the problem of recognition in such negotiations and analyzes this issue in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan conflict is still characterized by resistance to negotiation and by the continuation of violence. However, several studies have thoroughly explored the interests of the main parties to the conflict and a settlement that respects their key demands would actually be possible. The current military situation resembles a “hurting stalemate,” which according to rationalist assumptions should compel the parties to move toward negotiations. The chapter demonstrates that the main obstacle to negotiation is an underlying and unaddressed conflict of recognition between the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban. While each party believes it is driven by justice claims, they perceive their opponents to be driven by a hostile strategy informed by incompatible interests. Relying on the Cultural Theory of International Relations, the chapter explores the parties’ motives in the conflict, focusing on the need to strive for esteem and honor. It suggests that the reciprocal acknowledgement of legitimate identity-related justice claims could remove a key obstacle to formal negotiation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)Frankfurt am MainGermany

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