On July 6, Kinichi Komano, former Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan and current fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, spoke at JICC about the development-security nexis (one cannot exist without the other) and how this dilemma can be dealt with in the case of Afghanistan's reconstruction. He also gave a lecture earlier that day at the World Bank, for the Washington Symposium of ATHGO International, a NGO that aims to train international professionals to become decision-makers and diplomats. The following is the text of his speech:
1. The world has changed
The UN is tasked with the responsibilities of maintaining and promoting world peace and development. Without peace and security, development and prosperity cannot happen nor be sustained. But for the latter to occur, the former cannot be strengthened nor even maintained. Hence, both should go in tandem.
After the Second World War, when the UN was established, the security situation in the world was quite different from that which we face now. In terms of the sources of threats, what was feared at that time were the wars between states that might escalate to the Third World War. Now, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, intra-state conflicts (failed states), organized crimes and global issues such as absolute poverty, health issues (HIV/AIDS, avian flu), global warming etc., are perceived as more probable sources of threats to world peace and stability. On the development side, the human kind as a whole now enjoys the greatest wealth ever, due to increased production capacity and productivity owing to a vast progress in science and technology, especially in information and communication. The biggest problem is, however, a lopsided distribution of wealth among individuals and states, and for so many of them, a lack of opportunities for development.
Behind all these phenomena, globalization looms with increasing interdependency among states and peoples as its main characteristic. Although the economy is the engine of this process, its implication is by far wider than the economic sphere. Vast, quick and frequent movement of not only goods and services but people and information is the most visible attribute of globalization. This necessitates a new look at the issues related to development and security.
2. Afghanistan's case is a typical product of globalization
Afghanistan has long been neglected as a part of economic globalization. Hence, no one cared about the people there. Afghans suffered from the military occupation of foreign troops, civil war and oppressive government for 23 years. A whole generation was lost and all infrastructures that existed in the country, both hard and soft, were either eroded or destroyed. According to the UNDP's human development index, Afghanistan was ranked almost at the bottom out of more than 170 countries at the time of the collapse of Taliban regime. But the international community didn't pay attention to her until the 9/11 incidents in US.
In a globalizing world, security and development are closely intertwined and affect each other. Afghanistan shows this clearly. A lack of security together with absolute poverty pushed people to flee the country as refugees (6 million out of the estimated 25 million population). The fundamentalist government (the Taliban) harbored the Al-Qaeda terrorists. Afghanistan has become the major source of drugs (89 % of the world production of heroine). Poppy is the only agricultural product in which Afghanistan has a comparative advantage. Organized crimes such as drug and human trafficking are associated with terrorists and warlords. In a nutshell, if the international community does not care about Afghanistan, she will come outward with scourges such as terrorism, drugs, etc. This is an undeniable reality in the era of globalization. Since 9/11, people have become aware of this as a matter of fact. Afghanistan is a typical failed state. Without reconstructing it, it would continue causing not only human sufferings to the Afghan people, but instability and insecurity to the region and the world too.
3. Three-pronged approach to the reconstruction of a failed state
How to reconstruct a failed state and where to start--thinking about this question will shed light on the security-development nexus in the globalization era.
For reconstructing a failed state, three clusters of issues should be addressed simultaneously: political process, security reform and development. These are intricately interrelated. Any phase of political process might tumble without security, security reform could not advance without political support and development would not happen nor be maintained without security and institutional frames.
Let's have a quick look at Afghanistan past and present. In Afghanistan, the political process progressed ahead of others. A constitution was adopted, and a president and a parliament were elected directly by the people. In the security sector reform, there are some achievements such as the formation of a new national army and disarmament of legal militias. However, the pace of progress in the reform of a national police and judicial system and counter-narcotics strategy is yet to pick up. Development in urban areas such as in Kabur and Kandahar are more than discernible. It is, however, to be expanded to rural areas. A long-term development strategy should be implemented for the Afghan economy to be able to stand on its own.
In four years and a half since the collapse of the Taliban regime, much work has been done, but there is much more to be done. It is now the time to change the focus in terms of allocation of energy and resources in favor of those issues and areas lagging behind, and to direct them towards the reform of a national police and judicial system, disarmament of illegal militias and rural development.
4. Contradiction between development and security-the biggest obstacle
Through the whole period of Afghanistan's reconstruction, it has turned out that security is the biggest problem. Since last year and especially this year, insurgencies attributed to the Taliban have increased not only in sheer number and size, but in intensity by introducing suicidal and roadside bombings as major tactics. While almost all people eventually abhorred the Taliban regime, what has caused the Taliban to re-emerge? One of the main reasons for this should be found in the fact that local people living in the areas of Taliban's influence tend to acquiesce or support them, because they don't receive nor even notice any benefit from the central government or the international community. For the latter (especially for aid organizations), these areas are too insecure to go and deliver services. This constitutes a vicious cycle.
How to break a vicious cycle between less security and less development is a critical key to the success in the reconstruction of a failed state. How could we convert it to a virtuous circle of more security and more development? It depends on whether the central government and the international community could grasp the hearts and minds of the people.
A unique trial is underway in Afghanistan; a deployment of teams consisting of troops and civilians like political and aid officers, aid experts and representatives of the Afghan government which are called Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). They are deployed in different parts of the country outside Kabur. A PRT team, under the military protection of its troops, engages itself in supporting small-scale infrastructure projects, according to the requests of local community, while demonstrating the presence of the central government. There are two kinds of PRT, one led by the US, which covers the south and east of the country, and another led by NATO, which has gradually expanded its coverage from the north to the west and is now gradually spreading to the south.
The overall outcome of the PRT is a mixed one. In spite of its good intentions, it has two fundamental shortages. Its coverage is limited (just more than 20 teams all over the country) and since the kind of assistance they deliver is limited in number and scale, their assistance is not capable of, nor intended to be, laying a foundation of sustainable development of a rural community. However, since there is no alternative way to address this conundrum (vicious cycle) other than the PRTs, it should be continued on a trial and error basis for grasping the hearts and minds of the local people.
5. A down-to-earth approach-rural community development
85% of the population live in rural Afghanistan (there are 38 thousands rural communities all over the country) and people tend to live their lives as members of the community they belong to. Without a stable and thriving rural society, there would be no peaceful and flourishing Afghanistan. At the suggestion of Ms. Ogata, Japan undertook a rural community development program with a regional coverage (this is called the "Ogata Initiative"). The original idea was to support the sustainable resettlement of returnees, irrespective of their being refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs) in the places of their origin. In order for that to happen, (1) there should be no or least gap between humanitarian assistance and development assistance on one hand and (2) local people of the receiving communities should also be beneficiaries to the assistance program, otherwise competing each other for scarce resources available around them.
As time went by, the Afghan government launched some nationwide rural development programs. One example is the National Solidarity Program (NSP), in which the government first urges each rural community to form an autonomous consultative mechanism among its members, then asks them as a first decision-making to prioritize the request projects out of many disparate demands through the newly established consultative mechanism, and finally extends a block grant up to $50 thousand to each community, together with technical support for the implementation of projects. The World Bank is the major donor to this program, as well as Japan.
Compared to the PRT, the NSP is well funded (needless to say, taking into consideration the sheer number of villages and its vast dispersion, the funding for NSP is not enough, either), but can't escape from the same kind of shortages that the PRT has. Although a block grant of tens of thousands of dollars is a good start for demonstrating to the people that something is starting to happen, it is far short of supplying a foundation for the sustainable development of rural communities, even in the Afghan standard. Then what should we do?
6. Human security as a guiding principle in Afghanistan's reconstruction
Since there is a visionary issue behind the emphasis on a sustainable rural community development, I should touch upon "human security" as a concept evolved through the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
"Human Security Now, Protecting and Empowering People" is the title of a report by the Commission of Human Security, co-chaired by Sadako Ogata, Ex-UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and Amartya Sen, Nobel Raureate in Economics. Mrs. Ogata, while leading the deliberation of the Commission in order to give a concrete form to human security, worked as the Special Representative of Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan in Afghanistan Reconstruction Assistance, which coincided with my tenure as Ambassador to Afghanistan. Reconstruction efforts on the ground in Afghanistan helped enrich the deliberation of the Commission, and theoretical work in the Commission was tested on the ground and translated into concrete projects in order to realize human security in Afghanistan.
Coming back to the question on how to lay a foundation for sustainable development of rural communities, two elements are of high relevance. First, rural communities should be encouraged to work together on a wider regional base, linking their projects with others to create a synergy, in hopes that in the future they will be united as a viable economic and social entity. Second, however successful the NSP will be on an individual community level, it could not sustain if certain elements beyond the power of individual communities would not be provided. Those are security, rule of law and national economic growth. Without security, development achievement cannot be maintained; without rule of law, people cannot pin hopes in the future; and without national economic growth, village economy cannot flourish. All these elements can be provided by a functioning government.
Therefore, community development for protecting and empowering people, which we call bottom-up approach, should be put at the center of the reconstruction strategy, together with a simultaneous implementation of focused state-institution building as the top-down approach for providing a firm ground of sustainable development of the rural community. It should be acknowledged that human security cannot be realized without establishing a functioning government. Therefore, realizing human security requires simultaneous approaches of both bottom-up and top-down.
7. Human security reinforces national security-a new perspective
The rural community development program was initiated as a practical means for supporting the resettlement of returnees to their homeland. It has turned out to be viable as a strategy for addressing other looming issues facing Afghanistan, namely, the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life and provision of the alternative livelihood of poppy-growing farmers.
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program, an official naming of a program addressing the disarmament of militias, pursues two objectives: to replace militias with a national army as the only legitimate force in the country, and to utilize ex-combatants as human resources for reconstruction. In the meantime, it served as a means to create circumstances conductive to a fair and free election. Disarmament of militias under the command and control of the Ministry of Defense was completed a year ago, and their reintegration process is still going on. The success of the DDR program depends on whether ex-combatants would be reintegrated into their local community in a sustainable manner. The narcotics issue is rooted in the absolute poverty of the farmers. The provision of seeds and fertilizers would not suffice to support their livelihood.
In both cases, it is a thriving community which could absorb ex-combatants and support impoverished farmers on a sustainable basis. Thus protecting people through community development contributes to, if not solving but, alleviating the major problems Afghanistan faces: resettlement of refugees, disarmament and reintegration of militias and eradication of poppy cultivation. The bottom-up approach for a rural community development underpins not only the grass-roots governance but the solution of nationwide problems affecting the security and stability of the country. Human security reinforces the national security.
8. Long-term commitment with a clear vision on both sides
Afghanistan's reconstruction is still only halfway done. Reflecting upon our own experiences of post-war reconstruction in Japan, it is a time-consuming process. It took a decade and a half for the Japanese government to declare that the post-war era was over and for the Japanese people to restore self-confidence in their future. Sharing this understanding is critical, taking into consideration that the Taliban are all the more aware of the importance of a long-term perspective, claiming that the Coalition owns all the clocks and that we (the Taliban) have all the time.
A World Bank research shows that within five years after a peace agreement or the ceasefire of conflicts, half of the cases in the past decade have failed and reverted to a previous situation. The main reason is that while international attention culminates at the time of political agreement and starts declining as time goes by with the accompanying reduction of aid, the expectation of people from a peace dividend turns to disappointment, frustration and antagonism if it is not met within a reasonable timeframe. These two contradictory trends would cross a point where a fragile peace collapses, some time before five years. Afghanistan will not be an exception to this rule of thumb.
Last February, the international community and the Afghan government agreed to a long-term commitment ("Afghanistan Compact") with the detailed benchmarks and timelines on each program of three clusters of issues: security, governance (rule of law, human rights) and economic and social development. What is important for the success in Afghanistan's reconstruction is to implement in earnest these shared goals in the document. At the same time, it is of absolute necessity to have a clear vision for the long-term strategy. I argue that human security clearly shows the way people should be treated and how divergent programs should be sequenced in order to overcome the conflicts between security and development--hence, it should be embraced as the central guiding principle.
9. Concluding Remarks
Before concluding I should say that in the short history of Afghanistan's reconstruction, the most impressive moment was the voting day for the presidential election. In spite of the lengthy, hard work for its preparation, no one was sure about what would happen on the election day. The Taliban intimidated people not to vote, saying that since it was only to rubber stamp a puppet government of the West, voting was un-Islamic. The security situation was so precarious that anything could have happened. It was the people who brought success to the election by daring to vote, thus defying the threats of the Taliban, in hopes that they would not lose the last chance to express their expectation of peace and welfare in the future. 70% of eligible voters participated.
Reconstruction of Afghanistan should be directed towards responding to the people's expectation and encouraging their participation so that human security, together with national security, is realized. Human security can do that.