Karzai’s curse – legitimacy as stability in Afghanistan and other post-conflict environments

Post-conflict reconstruction and stabilisation have focused upon the establishment of both strong states capable of maintaining stability and various forms of ‘Good Governance’. However, both presume the development of substantial security sectors and highly functioning administrative systems within unrealistically brief periods of time. The failure to meet such inflated expectations commonly results in the disillusionment of both the local populations and the international community, and, hence, increased state fragility and decreased aid financing and effectiveness. As such the authors re-frame the basic question by asking how stabilisation can be achieved in spite of weak state institutions during reconstruction processes. Based upon extensive field research in Afghanistan and other conflict-affected contexts, the authors propose a model of post-conflict stabilisation focused primarily on the attainment of legitimacy by state institutions. Finally, the authors examine how legitimacy-oriented stabilisation and reconstruction will benefit from emerging models of ‘collaborative governance’ which will allow international interventions, through consociational relationships with fragile states and civil society, to bolster rather than undermine political legitimacy.

The Evolution of Post-conflict Recovery

Recent history has been marked by the rise of post-conflict intervention as a component of military and foreign policy, as a form of humanitarianism and as a challenge to Westphalian notions of state sovereignty. The terms of debate, the history of the discipline and the evolution of scholarship and practice remain relatively under-examined, particularly in the post-9/11 period in which post-conflict recovery came to be construed as an extension of conflict and as a domain concerned principally with the national security of predominantly Western countries. The subsequent politicisation of post-conflict recovery and entry of post-conflict assistance into the political economy of conflict have fundamentally changed policy making and practice. The authors argue that research into post-conflict recovery, which must become increasingly rigorous and theoretically grounded, should detach itself from the myriad political agendas which have sought to impose themselves upon war-torn countries. The de-politicisation of post-conflict recovery, the authors conclude, may benefit from an increasingly structured “architecture of integrated, directed recovery.”

State Building and Post-Conflict Demilitarization: Military Downsizing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In 2002, conventional wisdom held that the consolidation of Bosnia’s three ethnically distinct armies into a single force under a unitary chain of command was an unrealistically ambitious goal for the foreseeable future. NATO’s Secretary-General agreed that year to remove defence reform as a precondition to Partnership for Peace (PfP) membership, a first step towards NATO accession. However, less than two years later defence reform was being implemented, albeit incrementally and begrudgingly, and those seemingly distant goals were near at hand. Scholars and policymakers quickly focused on the motives for this unlikely reform process and the institutions it would produce. However, since 2006, the year in which Bosnia’s armies and defence ministries formally united, the literature has gone silent on the topic of defence reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The fact that institutional defence reform had been achieved overshadowed discussions of its impact and long-term implications. This article attempts to fill this gap by addressing the following question: how has military downsizing been implemented within the scope of defence reform, and how has its implementation either supported or hindered broader state building agendas in BiH?