2014 in review: Afghanistan in transition

What’s in store for Afghanistan after the final phase out of ISAF combat activities?

The country’s future is

both an exciting and difficult time

says Douglas Saltmarshe at an AREU conference with local journalists in 2011 where he presented the key policy implications of his research, Local Governance in Afghanistan:  A View from the Ground.

He noted that while new freedoms have been won the crucial next step remains: “how do you use that freedom?”

He cited weak local governments as the key issue constricting development across the country.

He emphasized on participation of the people as a key component in good governance because “at the end of the day, it is about what you want and what you accept as to how development in your society should go”. He clarified that people’s capacities need to be built in order for them to carry out that role effectively.

More recently, the AREU organized a public lecture in which findings from it’s research on issues facing the country’s military in light of it’s role in national security were discussed.

The experience of Philippines in this aspect can also contribute to the discussion, which is that of it’s long and continuing battle against insurgency, the lesson being that counterinsurgency needs a multi-pronged (systems) approach: strengthening national security forces (not only in terms of skill and arms but weeding out corruption in the system as well) + good governance (national as well as local levels) + social development (e.g. human resources education, training and development) + economic development (especially in the localities).  In short, the “war can be fought in many different ways not just in the trenches.”

There is also a need to have an independent facility in which funds toward such transitional activities are pooled and managed, otherwise a mechanism through which State and non-State actors can plan for a unified and coherent strategy.

Who will lead in that?  The way I see it, it’s the UN, a supranational organization designed to play an independent and strategic role relative to nations and their governments.  In light of a new global crisis it’s time the agency revisits it’s broader purpose and role vis-a-vis the efficacy of it’s current practice of implementing development projects in the localities alongside aid and development organizations, in effect asking, what is the role of the organization in the postmodern era?

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