Finland in Afghanistan 2001–2021

On 10 November 2021 (UaVP 61/2021), the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Finland commissioned the Finnish Institute of International Affairs to conduct an independent study on Finland’s participation in crisis management, stabilisation, reconstruction, development cooperation, and in humanitarian support functions in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2021.

An independent study by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs will clarify the overall picture of Finland’s multidisciplinary activities in support of Afghanistan between 2001 and 2021. To assess Finland’s operations, the study focuses on analysing: 1) the kind of aims and priorities that led Finland’s operations and their various components; 2) what types of analyses and theories of change guided the different forms of operations; 3) how the practical implementation (including resources) corresponded to the objectives and operational logic; and 4) how Finland’s operations and their changes reflected various reference points, in particular the conflict dynamics and general development of Afghanistan, local perspectives and the reference frameworks of international partners. The study is future-oriented: the objective is to produce useful lessons for Finland’s comprehensive ability to operate in future complex crisis and conflict situations.

The project will utilise existing studies, public documents, research reports, news sources, and other documentation to establish Finland’s participation and its logic. The study’s primary data consist of extensive interviews with decision- and policymakers and operators in Finnish diplomacy, crisis management, development and humanitarian aid, as well as inclusion of perspectives of both Afghans and partners to reflect on Finland’s activities.

The study adds value to Finland’s foreign and security policy debate by providing a more detailed overview of Finland’s efforts in Afghanistan and their composition between 2001 and 2021, and comparing them to the development of the crisis in Afghanistan and the efforts of the international community and local perspectives; by collecting and analysing extensive primary data; and focusing on identifying useful lessons learned for future conflict and crisis situations.

The core team of the study consists of Leading Researcher Katariina Mustasilta, Research Fellow Mariette Hägglund, Research Fellow Tyyne Karjalainen, Senior Research Fellow Matti Pesu, Non-resident Senior Fellow Olli Ruohomäki, Specialist Mathilda Salo, and Senior Research Fellow Timo Stewart. In addition to FIIA researchers specialist Aziza Hossaini is also part of the project team. A more extensive advisory support team consists of specialists from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and external specialists.

The project will be conducted during the period between 15.12.2021 and 15.12.2022.

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