Thematic Areas

AREU has six core thematic research areas

Governance & Political Economy

This thematic area has been a long-term research focus on AREU. In particular, our research has focused on different aspects of sub-national governance, with an emphasis on district governance, corruption, and transparency. Justice-related issues, such as women’s rights and alternative or non-state justice practices, have also been a research focus under this theme. Years of research-related expertise in this area positions AREU to spearhead a nationwide dialogue on the perceptions and understanding of democracy and what it means to the Afghan people.

Natural Resource Management

In the area of natural resource management, AREU has conducted pioneering research on the economies and impact of opium production in Afghanistan. Water-related issues, particularly related to laws, regulations, and management have been another major focus of our recent research. AREU has been conducting research on Afghanistan’s nomadic communities for many years now, which we see linked to the ability to study environmental and land use policies. Looking forward, AREU research on natural resource management will seek to focus on issues related to environmental protection as well as the mining and extractives industry.


AREU is one of the foremost research organizations in Afghanistan when it comes to gender-related issues and thus, our work serves as a resource for higher educational institutions, researchers, the Afghan government, and development practitioners. Our research on masculinity has also garnered attention for sparking debates and dialogues among men from diverse backgrounds on perceptions surrounding women’s roles as well as their own.

Social Protection

Through our long-term partnership and studies conducted alongside the Secure Livelihoods Consortium (SLRC), AREU is dedicated to generating spaces for dialogue and debate on Afghan livelihoods. Our research in this area is focused on service delivery in the health sector as well as women’s access to education, particularly as they become compromised with a decrease in donor funding and a rise in insecurity.

Legal Studies and Constitutional Review

Since 2013, AREU has been conducting research and fostering dialogues on the 2004 Constitution, which have been valuable research for the legal sector. Our research has thus far focused on the various articles and chapters of the constitution and their impact on different branches of the government. Through this thematic focus, we have looked into areas that include the Afghan parliament, modes of administration, judicial review, and the evolution of the Executive Branch.

Regional Cooperation and Migration Studies

We have added the element of regional cooperation as Afghanistan strives to deepen its engagement with its near and far neighbors as well as to integrate itself politically, economically and developmentally within the region. The way in which regional engagement and cooperation initiatives are framed and applied will have a lasting effect on the movement of people, on the political economy of development and growth, and migration management, among several others. In conjunction, the element of Migration Studies is featured in light of the fact that Afghans make up the second largest refugee group globally. As the country is receiving one of the largest groups of returnees since the Second World War, it is also simultaneously facing the challenge of responding to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to natural disasters, conflict, and economic factors. Integrating regional cooperation and migration studies thus provides another framework to examine the effects of each on the other and their various points at which they intersect.