PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

MCU/PILPG Afghanistan simulation

In December 2011, the Minerva Initiative, Middle East Studies at the Marine Corps University, and the Public International Law and Policy Group held an Afghanistan reconciliation simulation exercise:

The intent of this event was to involve a variety of participants in order to simulate negotiations related to crafting an end to the conflict in Afghanistan. Reflecting the real-world situation to the greatest degree possible, we expected the proceedings to draw attention to issues of discord and to highlight potential roadblocks in future negotiations, as well as to stimulate thought on developing potential work-arounds and to delineate areas of common ground. One of the principal intended benefits of this simulation was to develop its utility as a teaching tool that could be replicated for those preparing to deal with the Afghanistan issue or for students of the Middle East or of general foreign affairs.

We were fortunate to be able to bring together a wide variety of participants, some having dealt with Afghanistan over many years, others without such direct personal experience but with wide- ranging expertise in other applicable fields. Participants included military officers, government and think tank analysts, diplomats, journalists, academics, NGO representatives, and contractors.

The players were divided into four teams representing Afghanistan (the current government and the political opposition), the Neo-Taliban, Regional Actors, and the United States and Non-US NATO. In most cases, within each main category, players were assigned to represent specific national or factional entities, reflecting the spectrum of interests and positions even within a single broad category. Players were asked to focus on four principal issues in their negotiations: the cessation of hostilities, the current and future U.S. military presence, constitutional issues, and minority and women’s rights.

In preparation for the negotiations, each participant received a read-ahead with both general background and specific guidance on the positions for the entity he/she was to represent. Over a four-hour period, various sessions were structured to enable individual delegations to formulate their positions on the key issues, to negotiate with other delegations, and to engage in shuttle diplomacy across delegation lines. Rapporteurs from PILPG followed the negotiation proceedings, recording the key ideas that emerged, and drafted this synthesis of the results.

The full PIPLG report can be read here. Other PILPG negotiation simulations can be found on their website.

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