The talk provided an introduction to the thinking and politics of the Afghan Taliban Movement. It suggested that flawed understanding of the movement by other conflict actors has helped prolong the conflict in Afghanistan. It explored linkages between the Afghan conflict and the broader conflict in the Middle East and South Asia and consider the prospects for conflict transformation in Afghanistan. Michael Semple drew on his experience as a UN and EU official and as a mediator as well as current research.

Michael Semple has practised and written on humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution in Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the period 1988 to 2008 he worked in the region for international NGOs, the United Nations and the European Union. He was a member of the United Nations political team which helped implement the 2001 Bonn Accords and served as Deputy to the European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan 2004-08. Through his career Michael has sought to be a reflective practitioner. Since 2008 he has worked as a scholar and adviser on conflict resolution, with particular focus on the Afghan conflict. During 2009-2013 Michael was Senior Research Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. He has participated in the United States Institute for Peace Afghanistan Pakistan Senior Advisory Group. He has directly advised key policy makers concerning the conflict in Afghanistan, particularly with regards to political engagement with the Taliban. Michael is a recognised analyst of the Afghan Taliban Movement. He is currently researching the evolving rhetoric of the Taliban's armed struggle and the challenges facing militant jihadi groups evolving towards a political role. 

Recorded: Monday 9th March 2015 (17:00-18:30)

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