Coordination, communication, and cooperation : facing the challenges of building a lasting peace in Afghanistan

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management


This study, undertaken in four provinces in Afghanistan in the spring of 2004, explores the roles, opinions, activities, and ideas for change that mid-level, field operational foreign personnel represent in the peacebuilding and nation consolidation processes that Afghanistan is currently undergoing. The primary research question it asks is: What are the primary constraints to successful coordination and cooperation among and between External and Internal Actors in Afghanistan? This qualitative, applied research was conducted primarily through one-on-one interviews, and the thirty five purposefully selected respondents include foreign actors in the humanitarian, security, political and private sectors. Respondents said that the sites of potential interaction between internal and external actors are numerous but often hindered by technical obstructions such as a lack of time and resources for participatory planning, ineffective chairing and organization of meetings, as well as a lack of clear terms-of-reference and priorities and the diminished capacity of local actors, particularly in the government. Interpersonal and interagency competition, top-down approaches to development coordination, ineffective communication, and a lack of key intercultural competencies on the part of both actors further hinder synergy in relationships. One of the most common and interesting complaints recorded regards the politicization of aid and the specter of military "mission-creep", affecting the humanitarian space of relief and human rights actors and ultimately their security as neutral players in an ongoing war. Among the solutions offered, donor policy reform, better training, increased security, and place specific, longitudinal research and context analysis will help external actors coordinate and better their relationships with local actors. The larger political considerations have been left for later researchers, though it is important to remember that the stakes of this nation building expedition are as high for the West as they are for Afghans themselves.

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