University of Nottingham: Academics outline future Afghanistan foreign policy direction

A group of 20 experts, led by the University of Nottingham, today set out their recommendations for foreign policy around Afghanistan in a new report, Afghanistan: Prospects and Challenges.

The scholars, including British diplomat and author Sir Rodric Braithwaite, have pooled their collective expertise to offer a thorough analysis of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, spanning foreign intervention, international law, the economy, security, human rights, regional powers, religion, and modern slavery and human trafficking.

Experts from across four of the University of Nottingham’s research centres (Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism; Human Rights Law Centre; Asia Research Institute; and The Rights Lab) set out the facts and evidence, providing a holistic overview of the situation in Afghanistan, as well as recommended interventions and actions.

A foreword by Sir Rodric Braithwaite, who was Chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee from 1992 – 1998, argues that “it is no good pouring aid money into a country which does not have the institutions to handle it.”

He adds: “The flaw at the heart of our policy of intervention in Afghanistan was the idea that we needed to re-engineer the place if it was not to remain a base for extreme Islamic terrorist groups seeking to do us harm. But Al-Qaeda and others have shown that they can operate effectively from a wide variety of bases.”

The policy report explores the future of UK and US intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the regional power interests from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran.

The authors advocate that “London still holds considerable leverage over the Taliban, principally through its influence in the UN Security Council,” and that through offering the Taliban membership of the Security Council and General Assembly, this could be “a pragmatic way to establish relations, offer incentives for moderation and, where necessary, apply international pressure and sanctions”.

The experts set out the key areas that they propose will forge a way forward:

On-going international engagement.
There has been a heavy investment of ‘blood and treasure’ over 20 years of conflict. Withdrawal from military activities does not signal a return to isolationism and there is much to be done to continue to engage with the country and to assist Afghans.
A pragmatic realist approach.
There needs to be an understanding that the declaration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan means the Taliban regime is the effective government in control of the country. A ‘pragmatic realist’ approach to the Emirate is required from external actors.
Close attention to regional economic and political interests.
There should be recognition of the importance of Afghanistan for proximate regional powers, including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran.
A strong counter-terrorism response.
There should be recognition of the ongoing and deepening threat of organised terrorism in Afghanistan and its immediate neighbours.
A strong counter-trafficking response.
There should be recognition of the ongoing prevalence and root causes for modern slavery and human trafficking across their many forms in Afghanistan.

The University of Nottingham is home to world-leading research, with internationally recognised experts in their fields. We have drawn upon this breadth of expertise to develop an academic report, not only to assist UK and foreign governments in their ongoing Afghanistan policies, but for those working in and studying international relations.
Professor Todd Landman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Executive Director of The Rights Lab
Professor Todd Landman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Executive Director of The Rights Lab, led the report. He said: “A policy of isolationism is not appropriate for the future of the country, and the report makes clear that continued multilateral engagement is required to assist Afghans for the future.”

Story credits
More information is available from Professor Todd Landman in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Todd.Landman@nottingham.ac.uk

Contributors

Kevin Bales CMG, Professor of Contemporary Slavery in the School of Politics and International Relations and Director of Research in the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Doreen Boyd, Professor of Earth Observation in the School of Geography and Associate Director (Data and Measurement Programme) of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Sir Rodric Braithwaite joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1955 After military service in Vienna. He served in Jakarta, Warsaw, Moscow, Rome, the British mission to the EU, and Washington; and had various roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. From 1988 to 1992, he was ambassador in Moscow. He was then the Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser and Chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee (1992–93). Thereafter he has written, amongst other things, a book on the Russians in Afghanistan.
Edward Burke, Associate Professor and member of the Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism (SUIT) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. From 2010 to 2011, he was Deputy Head of the International Police Coordination Board in Kabul, Afghanistan, having previously served as a Strategy, Planning, Analysis and Reporting Officer at the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan.
Chloe Brown, Senior Research Fellow in Antislavery Remote Sensing in the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
James Cockayne, Professor of Global Politics and Anti-Slavery in the School of Politics and International Relations and the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Rory Cormac, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism (SUIT) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.
Lauren Eglen, Research Fellow in Survivor Narratives in the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Erika Jimenez, Research Fellow in Modern Slavery and Covid Risk and Mitigation in the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Louise Kettle, Assistant Professor and member of the Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism (SUIT) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.
Jason Klocek, Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. He was formally at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington, DC.
Todd Landman, Professor of Political Science in the School of Politics and International Relations, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Executive Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Helen McCabe, Associate Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations and a member of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Andrew Mumford, Professor of War Studies and a member of the Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism (SUIT) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. He is on secondment to the House of Commons International Affairs Unit as a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Academic Fellow.
Bettina Renz, Professor of International Security and member of the Centre for the Study of Subversion, Unconventional Interventions, and Terrorism (SUIT) in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.
Carole Spary, Associate Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations and Director of the Asia Research Institute.
Katarina Schwarz, Assistant Professor in the School of Law and Associate Director (Law and Policy Programme) of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Jonathan Sullivan, Associate Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, Director of the China Policy Institute and Member of the Asia Research Institute.
Zoe Trodd, Professor of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in the School of Politics and International Relations and Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham.
Nigel White, Professor of Public International Law in the School of Law and member of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham.

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