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Those who study peacebuilding understand that there is no blueprint or linear trajectory for its complex processes. Hashim Wahdatyar is working hard to make sure that civilians raised in conflict have the opportunity to experience the freedom peace brings. “Peace,” he said, “is necessary everywhere.”
He should know: He’s lived with it—and without it.
Wahdatyar, a PhD student at the Schar School of Policy and Government, is this year’s Daniel Druckman Fellowship awardee, a competitive annual scholarship to be used for independent research, dissertation, or thesis support in conflict fields. Wahdatyar’s work considers the role of civilians in peace talks, or more specifically, their exclusion by governments that could benefit from civilian insight.
“Where is the voice of civilians?” he wonders. “When two parties agree [on a treaty], where is the consensus of civilians?”
Wahdatyar, who emigrated from Afghanistan in 2016, pursued this topic as it applies to his home country for his PhD dissertation. “Peace is necessary everywhere across the world,” he said, “but it is born an ‘accessory entity’ for Afghanistan.”
As it happens, he was born into this conflict. To get closer to the solution of this conflict, Wahdatyar realized he needed more and better tools, in the form of advanced education, to succeed in the field.
He began to pursue advanced studies to understand the policy-level politics and personalities involved after earning a master’s degree in political science at the Schar School. He chose the Schar School, he said, because of its reputation and recommendations from his peers.
Being an activist at the grassroots level helped him understand peacebuilding at the policy level. Wahdatyar has worked in different capacities, including program director at the Institute of World Affairs (IWA), a Washington-based think-tank founded in 1924.
He intends to distribute his Schar School research to stakeholders in peacebuilding processes.
“I need to thoroughly share the outcomes of this research with others, with policymakers, with the players, and everybody, so that we can do something to bring an end to this road perpetual conflict” in Afghanistan, he said. “And in this process, I want every man and woman, boy and girl to have the opportunity to live peacefully.”