feature | afghanistan
M. Ashraf Haidari
Key Lessons for International
Peacekeeping in Afghanistan
A popularity contest. Photo: Tim Page/U.N.
HE study of the political that it is the national police, not the army them to counter threats from the Taliban
journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 2 | september-october 2009
landscape of a country used to or the international forces, who constitute and other militant elements, who are
involve looking for the existence the first line of defense. Our sincere often better trained, paid, and equipped.
of certain state and security institutions; it efforts to fight drug-trafficking and
has changed in recent years to examining production, defeat the insurgency and Another related and equally neglected
whether these institutions perform create an enabling environment for the institution has been the Afghan justice
properly. In the case of Afghanistan, civilian institutions also hinge on this key sector. Although the effectiveness of the
however, the metric is slightly different. area. justice sector determines the legitimacy of
Here, human capital has remained any government in public eyes, the reform
underdeveloped, courtesy of the decades However, law enforcement institutions of this critical sector in Afghanistan has
of war that preceded the current state- have been neglected from the beginning unfortunately received the least amount of
building efforts. As a result, the question in Afghanistan. The implementation of international attention and aid resources.
here is not whether institutions exist, but judicial and police reforms – reforms that Afghanistan has fewer than 1,500 judges
how well institutions are run and how should have been the foundation on and 400 defense lawyers for a population
meritorious those running them are. which other state institutions were built – of approximately 33 million. Most of
was shelved indefinitely due to a lack of these judges and attorneys lack modern
Capacity, or lack thereof, in the police, the resources. This paucity of resources has legal training, as well as the office
judicial system, the bureaucracy, education contributed to a significantly higher resources and protection to execute their
and other fields is a thread that weaves number of police casualties. Between duties effectively. This is one of the main
through the successes and failures of our 2007 and 2009 alone, more than 1500 reasons why 62 percent of Afghans
efforts to build a state essentially from the Afghan National Police (ANP) officers believe the government does not provide
ground up. In what follows, I will outline were killed. Close to 600 Afghan National timely justice, and only half believe the
some of the key lessons learned over the Army (ANA) soldiers have lost their lives government’s justice system is fair;
past eight years. Indeed, whether or not in the same period. The total International compare this to 70 percent favorability for
we proactively work together to build Security Assistance Force (ISAF) traditional methods, according to an Asia
upon these vital lessons learned will casualties since 2001 are about 1300. Foundation survey.
determine our collective success or failure Thus, given the substantially higher risk
in the few critical years following the 2009 environment the ANP faces and the The popular sense of justice is percipient
presidential and 2010 parliamentary seminal role it plays in maintaining day-to- – Afghans expect the government to
elections in Afghanistan. day law and order across Afghanistan, it is provide them timely and effective justice.
very important that long-term attention Indeed, failure to do so will undermine
Afghanistan’s battle against the Taliban and resources be focused on police popular confidence in the government, as
and other extremist elements is unique in training and equipment. These enable
The author is the Political Counselor of the Emba