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International quest for local legitimacy in Afghanistan: A tower of Babel?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research. Department of Politics, New York University.
2013 (English)In: Small Wars & Insurgencies, ISSN 0959-2318, E-ISSN 1743-9558, Vol. 24, no 2, 349-369 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With continuing challenges facing the international presence in Afghanistan, the need to secure local legitimacy, or ‘winning heart and minds’ of the local population is gaining increasing foothold in contemporary policy-making and academic debate on international intervention. However, knowledge of how international actors in the field understand local legitimacy remains limited. The purpose of this article is to take a first cut at examining how the two leading actors of international intervention – the UN and NATO – frame the issue of local legitimacy in Afghanistan, and to evaluate the potential impact of these findings on the prospects of inter-organizational coordination in the field. Based on a qualitative comparative analysis of statements issued in UN SC Resolutions, SC Debates, and S-G Reports (2001–2011) and NATO Declarations and Opinions (2003–2011), the study finds that the UN and NATO frame the issue of local legitimacy in surprisingly similar ways. However, the framing appears problematic in terms of how it depicts the relationship between the international presence and the Afghan state and its people. To illustrate, both the UN and NATO tend to externalize the issue of local legitimacy by linking it to the strength of the Afghan state rather than to the quality and effectiveness of international assistance and furthermore do not explicitly recognize Afghan civilians to have any autonomous influence on the level of local legitimacy. Instead, civilians are only portrayed to affect the level of legitimacy indirectly as the victims of insurgent or coalition attacks. The results of the study thus indicate a lack of awareness and self-criticism within the international intervention apparatus towards the potential pitfalls of international assistance, and it signals a lack of attention paid to the agency of local Afghans, which stands the risk of jeopardizing prospects for international civil–military coordination with Afghan stakeholders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013. Vol. 24, no 2, 349-369 p.
Keyword [en]
local legitimacy, international assistance, Afghanistan, UN, NATO, inter-organizational coordination
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-212918DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2013.778021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-212918DiVA: diva2:679633
Available from: 2013-12-16 Created: 2013-12-16 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Enforcing Legitimacy: Perspectives on the Relationship between Intervening Armed Forces and the Local Population in Afghanistan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enforcing Legitimacy: Perspectives on the Relationship between Intervening Armed Forces and the Local Population in Afghanistan
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bolstering local perceptions of legitimacy in armed intervention has emerged as an important feature of increasingly complex international peace and statebuilding efforts. Yet, previous research has only begun to explore what local legitimacy entails to those involved in, and affected by, armed intervention. This dissertation advances an understanding of local legitimacy as a perception-based, relational phenomenon. Through this lens, it examines armed intervention in Afghanistan (2001-2014). In particular, this dissertation studies how the relationship between Afghan citizens and intervening armed forces interacts with, and shapes, perspectives on local legitimacy held by the main 'interveners' and those 'intervened upon'. This dissertation consists of an introduction, which situates the study in a wider context, and four essays. Beginning with the organizational perspectives of the main intervening actors in Afghanistan, Essay I finds that the UN and NATO initially conceptualized problems of local legitimacy as principally the consequence of a fragile Afghan state, and not as failings of the intervention. When negative dimensions of intervention became increasingly recognized, principal responsibility for the legitimacy process shifted away from intervening authorities and onto the Afghan state. Similarly, Essay II shows how key U.S. military doctrine, over time, reconceptualized the formal duty of intervening forces in the local legitimacy process, ultimately considering it contingent on, and subordinate to, the will and capabilities of host-state authorities and the local population. Turning thereafter to firsthand accounts from the field, Essay III and Essay IV together contrast personal perspectives on the intervention held by U.S. Army Officers and Afghan citizens. Essay III finds that personal experiences of noncombat contact with Afghans reinforced the Officers' sense of duty toward the local population. Conversely, Essay IV suggests that the local legitimacy of intervening forces became increasingly contested among Afghans, due largely to the perceived intensification of foreign intrusion on 'everyday' life. Taken together, the findings of this dissertation lay the foundation for the development of a new concept, the host-citizen contract. In so doing, it provides a social contract framework to better understand the complex dynamics of local legitimacy in Afghanistan, and beyond.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2015. 55 p.
Series
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 106
Keyword
armed intervention, local legitimacy, Afghanistan, intervening armed forces, military, local population, perceptions, soldiers, ISAF, noncombat contact, peace operations, peacekeeping, military doctrine, contact theory, fieldwork
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263061 (URN)978-91-506-2489-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-12, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-16 Created: 2015-09-24 Last updated: 2015-11-25

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Karlborg, Lisa

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