Bribes or Bargains? Peace Conditionalities and ‘Post-Conflict’ Reconstruction in Afghanistan

This article focuses on the role of international aid donors in Afghanistan since the signing of the Bonn Agreement in 2001. Specifically, it explores the scope and utility of peace conditionalities as an instrument for peace consolidation in the context of a fragile war-to-peace transition. Geo-strategic and institutional concerns have generally led to an unconditional approach to assistance by international actors. It is argued that large inflows of unconditional aid risk re-creating the structural conditions that led to the outbreak of conflict. Aid conditionalities need to be re-conceptualized as aid-for-peace bargains rather than as bribes for security. Some forms of conditionality are necessary in order to rebuild the social contract in Afghanistan. This finding has wider relevance for aid donors and they should reconsider orthodox development models in ‘fragile state’ settings. Rather than seeing conditionalities and ownership as two ends of a policy spectrum, the former may be a necessary instrument for achieving the latter.

Corrupting or Consolidating the Peace? The Drugs Economy and Post-conflict Peacebuilding in Afghanistan

This article examines how the drugs economy emerged, evolved and adapted to transformations in Afghanistan’s political economy. With a primary focus on the conflictual war to peace transition following the signing of the Bonn Agreement, the relationship between drugs and political (dis)order is explored. Central to the analysis is an examination of the power relationships and institutions of extraction that developed around the drug economy. Expanding upon a model developed by Snyder (2004), it is argued that joint extraction regimes involving rulers and private actors have tended to bring political order whereas private extraction regimes have led to decentralized violence and political breakdown. This model helps explain why in some parts of Afghanistan drugs and corruption have contributed to a level of political order, whereas in other areas they have fuelled disorder. Thus, there is no universal, one-directional relationship between drugs, corruption and conflict. Peacebuilding involves complex bargaining processes between rulers and peripheral elites over power and resources and when successful leads to stable interdependencies. Counter-narcotics policies have the opposite effect and are thus fuelling conflict.

Aiding Peace? The Role of NGOs in Armed Conflict

As non-governmental organizations play a growing role in the international response to armed conflict – tasked with mitigating the effects of war and helping to end the violence – there is an acute need for information on the impact they are actually having. Addressing this need, Aiding Peace? explores just how NGOs interact with conflict and peace dynamics, and with what results.