Democratic Authority and Rule of Law Formation in Afghanistan during and after the Bonn Agreement Period

Richard J. Ponzio

in Democratic Peacebuilding

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594955
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725562 | DOI:
Democratic Authority and Rule of Law Formation in Afghanistan during and after the Bonn Agreement Period

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The understudied gap in conceptions of authority between Afghans and their foreign counterparts and what it means for international peacebuilding in the Afghan context are considered in Chapter 4. From interim to transitional to elected authorities, UN-facilitated political development activities have, contrary to conventional wisdom and perceptions of failure, initiated a transformation in the notion and sources of authority among Afghans—from rule by religious scholars, tribal elders, and “warlords” to a hybrid model of governance involving democratically elected leaders and highly trained technocrats. By helping Afghans reconcile the inherent tensions between these competing forms of authority, international peacebuilders contributed to improved conditions for governance and a reduction in intrastate political violence (as distinct from transboundary violence involving armed groups based in Pakistan, which has increased steadily over time). Sensitive to indigenous notions of Afghan authority foreign to their own, UN and other international peacebuilders introduced governance through democratic legal authorities by, in particular: (a) affording the Afghan state de jure sovereignty from the outset and putting an “Afghan Face” on all stages of the Bonn project; (b) marrying democratic legal authority with respected traditional governing institutions; and (c) accommodating all major non-Taliban power brokers within the new political framework, even suspected war criminals.

Keywords: Afghanistan; Bonn Process; democracy; peacebuilding; legitimate authority; hybrid models of governance; rule of law; United Nations

Chapter.  20251 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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