Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Social Sciences

Publication Date

Winter 11-24-2020

Publication Title

Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs

Document Type



This article analyzes how an international peacekeeping operation (PKO) can support an intra-Afghan peace settlement by mitigating information and commitment problems and fostering compliance during the settlement’s implementation phase. To frame the information and commitment problems currently hindering an intra-Afghan settlement, I briefly review noncooperative bargaining theory, its application to civil conflicts, and how PKOs can lessen mutual uncertainty and foster stability. Anchoring this research on Afghanistan, I analyze the first peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, the 1988–1990 United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP). UNGOMAP’s eventual failure to foster peace highlights Afghanistan’s complexities and the dangers of an insufficiently resourced PKO operating in a state without a viable, incentive-compatible settlement. I apply these lessons to policy analysis, where I explore possible PKO options and their potential for incentivizing compliance with a future intra-Afghan deal. Though a viable PKO currently seems improbable given Afghanistan’s ongoing violence and the Taliban’s insistence on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces, future conditions may change, and I highlight necessary prerequisites where a PKO may become possible. If designed properly, an Afghanistan PKO can fill a critical monitoring and verification capacity and bolster Afghanistan’s prospects for long-term stability.

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