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

in International Negotiation
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Resistance to negotiation and the continuation of violence dictate the course of events in the Afghanistan conflict. However, several studies have thoroughly explored the interests of the main parties to the conflict and a settlement that respects their key demands is possible. The current military situation resembles a “hurting stalemate,” which according to rationalist assumptions should compel the parties to move toward negotiations. This article argues 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, this article 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.

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

in International Negotiation



  • ArrowKenneth Social Choice and Individual Values 1963 New Haven Yale University Press

  • BazermanMax H.NealeMargaret YoungH. Peyton “Negotiator Rationality and Negotiator Cognition: The Interactive Roles of Prescriptive and Descriptive Research,” Negotiation Analysis 1991 Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press 109 129

  • BiddleStephen “War Termination in Afghanistan.” 2013 After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan 29 October Prepared statement before the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa & Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific United States House of Representatives 1st Session 113th Congress. Hearing on

  • BrahimiLakhdarPickeringThomas Afghanistan. Negotiating Peace. The Report of The Century Foundation International Task Force on Afghanistan in Its Regional and Multilateral Dimensions 2011 New York The Century Foundation Press

  • BramsSteven J. Negotiation Games 1990 New York Routledge

  • BramsSteven J. Theory of Moves 1994 Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press

  • BrutonBronwyn “On the Quicksands of Somalia: Where Doing Less Helps More.” Foreign Affairs 2009 88 6 79 94

  • CordesmanAnthony H. “Coalition, ANSF, and Civilian Casualties in the Afghan Conflict from 2001 through August 2012.” 2012a Washington, DC Center for Strategic and International Studies

  • CordesmanAnthony H. “The U.S. Cost of the Afghan War: FY2002–FY2013. Cost in Military Operating Expenditures and Aid and Prospects for ‘Transition.’” 2012b Washington, DC Center for Strategic and International Studies

  • DahlHanne MarleneStoltzPaulineWilligRasmus “Recognition, Redistribution and Representation in Capitalist Global Society: An Interview with Nancy Fraser.” Acta Sociologica 2004 47 4 374 382

  • EideKai Power Struggle over Afghanistan 2012 New York Skyhorse Publishing

  • FraserNancy “Rethinking Recognition.” New Left Review 2000 May/June 3 107 120

  • FraserNancy Scales of Justice. Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World 2009 New York Columbia University Press

  • HershJoshua “Atta Muhammad Noor, Afghan Governor, Criticizes U.S. Exit Plan.” The World Post 2012 April 30

  • HonnethAxel The Struggle for Recognition. The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts 1995 Cambridge, MA The MIT Press

  • HonnethAxel FraserNancyHonneth.Axel “Redistribution or Recognition: A Response to Nancy Fraser,” Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange 2003 London Verso

  • Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan “We do not recognize any president in the presence of the Islamic Emirate: Zabihullah Mujahid”, interview with the ‘Afghan Islamic News Agency’ 13 April Afghan Taliban published on the official website of the

  • JohnsonChrisLeslieJolyon Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace 2004 New York Zed Books

  • LebowRichard Ned A cultural theory of international relations 2008 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • LebowRichard Ned Why Nations Fight 2010 Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press

  • MorgenthauHans Joachim Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace 1955 New York Knopf

  • MüllerHarald HellmannGunther “Justice and Peace: Good things do not always go together,” Justice and Peace. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Relationship 2013 Frankfurt am Main Campus 43 68

  • OlsonMancur The Logic of Collective Action 1965 New York Schocken

  • OmarMullah Mohammad “Message of Felicitation of Amir-ul-Momineen on the Occasion of ‘Eid ul-Fitr.” ‘Eid ul-Fitr Message from Taliban Leader Mullah Omar 2009 Online available on the website of the Middle East Media Research Instititute (MEMRI) at September 20

  • RuggieJohn Gerard Constructing the World Polity: Essays on International Institutionalization 1998 London Routledge

  • SenAmartya Collective Choice and Social Welfare 1970 San Francisco Holden-Day

  • WaldmanMatt “Dangerous Liaisons with the Afghan Taliban. The Feasibility and Risks of Negotiations.” USIP Special Report 256 2010 September Washington, DC United States Institute of Peace

  • WeberMax The Methodology of the Social Sciences 1949 New York Free Press

  • WelchDavid Justice and the genesis of war 1993 Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press

  • WelshNancy A. “Perceptions of Fairness in Negotiation.” Marquette Law Review 2004 87 753 767

  • WendtAlexander “Anarchy is what States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics.” International Organization 1992 46 2 391 425

  • White House “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” December 1 Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York

  • WrightQuincy “The Escalation of International Conflicts.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 1965 IX 4 434 449

  • ZartmanI. William “The Timing of Peace Initiatives: Hurting Stalemates and Ripe Moments.” The Global Review of Ethnopolitics 2001 1 1 8 18

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 42 42 2
Full Text Views 192 192 2
PDF Downloads 8 8 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0