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The Petersberg conference held near Bonn at the beginning of December 2001 and the donor conference held in Tokyo in mid-January 2002 defined the broad outlines for peace-making and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Under the Bonn agreement, a loya jirga consisting of representatives from all the country's regions will agree on a new constitution in the coming months. A new government to replace the transitional government will be chosen in democratic elections to be held in summer 2004. Provided this process of political peace-making and democratisation takes place as planned, the international community intends to provide the financial means to enable this famine-stricken and war-torn country to take a leap forward in development over the next four years. In this paper, the authors suggest a revision of the overall strategy that has been defined and developed up to now with reference to the following three points: The programme of reconstruction should have a clear strategic vision and be designed as a state-building project. The main problem Afghanistan faces is the lack of a monopoly of power and of other basic state functions, without which no successful process of development can be organized. Reconstruction using 'civil society' actors, on the other hand, who, according to current assumptions, should be the privileged partners in development co-operation, could have negative impact in the case of Afghanistan and other countries suffering from state failure. They might weaken the state further and consolidate the rule of the warlords. The most recent decision of the UN Security Council, namely to carry out reconstruction not through a special UN organization but through the Afghan transition government, represents a step in the right direction. It is too early to democratise through elections. A democracy can only release the potential for political integration following successful political stabilization and institutional consolidation. To this end, it should proceed within institutional frameworks that are capable of countering the danger of ethno-religious conflicts over distributional issues. An ethno-religious quota system of the sort that many have in mind at the moment would tend rather to increase conflict than to reduce it. In the medium term, the institutionalisation of the loya jirga combined with the careful democratisation of its principles of recruitment seems more promising than a call for general elections. These two points make it clear that a meaningful programme of reconstruction and peace-making must necessarily take a long term perspective. Spending the resources that have now been approved over the next four years and hoping for a continuation of aid approvals in the future is too risky, given the dependence of these approvals on the future political climate. A long-term financing strategy in the form of a 'trust fund', for example, is therefore recommended.


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