Setting up the structures: integration and coherence

The integrated mission

From the outset, UNAMA was set up as a special integrated mission led by the DPA and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), coordinating over 30 UN agencies and 20 field offices (Earle, 2002). The integrated mission concept was initially discussed during the 1990s in the context of UN reform but the proposal and elaboration on the concept was introduced by the Brahimi Report (UNSG, 2002) which called for the establishment of ‘one-stop support for United Nations peace-and-security field activities [that would] extend across the whole range of peace operations’ (p. 35). At a basic level, according to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Note of Guidance on Integrated Missions integrated is a ‘system-wide response ... and guiding principle for the design and implementation of complex UN operations in post-conflict situations and for linking the different dimensions of peacebuilding into a coherent support strategy’ (UNSG, 2006, pp. 2-3). The rationale behind integration is that greater coherence between different aspects of UN missions (political, development, humanitarian, human rights, rale of law, social, and security) will increase the likelihood of peacebuilding objectives being achieved. There has been little documented evidence of increased efficiency due to the integrated structure, however, nor did the perspectives shared by actors throughout this study reflect that opinion. Instead, the integrated set-up in Afghanistan was marked by several contradictions.

The first conundram was the choice of the ‘two-feet in integration’ model that the UN adopted in 2002. There are several possible integration mission models, two-feet-out, two-feet-in and one-foot-out one-foot-in (UNOCHA, 2009).5 Each model contains a different set of management, coordination, and reporting arrangements between various arms and agencies within UN missions in response to the local context. The two-feet-in model is usually implemented in stable post-conflict settings, where a UN peacekeeping or political mission with widespread in-countiy support is deployed alongside a United Nations Country Team (UNCT) (OCHA, 2009) facilitating the establishment of a combined Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG)/ Resident Coordinator (RC)/Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) (UNOCHA. 2011)?

The policy stories 41 Practically, in the UNAMA, this meant that the DSRSG, a senior official from the DPKO held a ‘triple hat’. They were responsible for providing direct supervision and overall strategic direction for the UN mission, and reported to the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), the top UN official in the mission. Simultaneously, they were also the RC, responsible for recovery and development operations, and the HC, responsible for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. They also coordinated the UNCT, essentially a political body whose objectives were to support the host government’s long-term plans and objectives. The UN classification of Afghanistan as a ‘post-conflict’ situation in 2002 allowed the ‘two-feet-in approach’ to be adopted; however, in situations like the Afghanistan where conflict and military operations were still ongoing throughout the country, and the UN was not accepted by at least a portion of the population this model was rarely implemented.

Second, the decision to become a two-feet-in integrated mission and the conflation of responsibilities created as a result of the DSRSG’s triple hat raised both operational and political challenges. One the one hand debates arose regarding the appropriate structural arrangements needed to preserve the independence of humanitarian coordination functions of the UN mission and whether a standalone OCHA office should be established or whether these functions should be integrated into the UN mission structure (Metcalfe, Giffen, and Elhawary, 2011, p. 1). On the other hand, actors within and outside of the UN disputed the tendency of integration arrangements to facilitate the prioritisation of political prerogatives over other mission objectives (p. 57). Perspectives shared throughout the book highlight this last issue, in particular, as many UN officials and aid workers expressed frustration at the unwillingness of UN senior management to report honestly on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the country due to their desire to construct a discourse of political success. The stark reality of these decisions for UN staff, aid workers, and district residents is detailed in the forthcoming chapters.

The PRTs

In 2003, the ISAF, now under NATO’s command, began to establish PRTs as the main vehicle for their expansion outside of Kabul as mandated by UNSCR 1510 (UNSC, 2003). The new mandate did not only call for an increase in military personnel, but added political and development components to ISAF’s previous mission. The PRTs, once described as being to the developmentsecurity nexus what light bulbs were to electricity (Petrik, 2016, p. 163), were provincial-level integrated military-civilian structures, staffed and supported by ISAF member countries (NATO, 2008, p. iii). Their origins can be traced back to US-led coalition Humanitarian Liaison Cells, established in Afghanistan in 2002, which comprised of 10-12 troops, and were tasked with both intelligence gathering and the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) (Gilmore, 2011). The PRTs, however, described as ‘civil-military institutions that are able to penetrate more stable and insecure areas because of their military componentand able to stabilise these areas because of their combined capabilities’ (NATO, 2010, p. 8) were much larger structures and carried out a range of activities. The increase of international military force was called for to facilitate the expansion of ‘the United Nations and other international civilian personnel engaged, in particular, in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts’ across the country, and to support the slow roll-out of the Afghan government’s authority to the provinces beyond Kabul (NATO, 2010). Ultimately, the PRTs were mandated with three areas of responsibility: security, governance, and reconstruction and development. By 2006, over 400 smaller military bases run by US and ISAF forces were located throughout the Afghan countryside (Stewart, 2012), and a four-phased roll-out of the PRTs was completed. In total, 26 PRTs had been established, with plans for two more in Daikundi and Nimroz provinces7 (NATO, 2010, 2012), each serving as a laboratory for testing different types of military-political-assistance hybrids.

Although they were conceived of as institutions with significant civilian leadership and/or composition at the outset, the majority of PRTs were comprised of predominantly military personnel, and a smaller group of civilians ranging between 5-25 per cent of the total staff (Haysom and Jackson, 2013). They also varied significantly in size: at any given time the German PRT could have upwards of 375 staff (Mitchell, 2015), the Lithuanian PRT had approximately 130 staff and the US PRTs were smaller with an average of 80 staff (Eronen, 2008). Different NATO nations took the lead for the joint militarycivilian teams in selected provincial capitals of Afghanistan. By 2009 the US lead 12 of the PRTs, 14 were led by other nations, and one was jointly led by the US and Poland? The overall supervision of the PRTs, however, was done jointly by both the ISAF HQ and the government of whichever lead nation was involved.

Though the ISAF HQ was supposed to be the primary source of guidance, the domestic governments provided funding for PRTs, and heavily influenced how each PRT team operated. As a result, it was difficult to monitor the extent to which guidelines or directives from ISAF HQ were implemented or if they were ever communicated to the various PRTs. The primacy of national government authority meant that there were different types of operations being conducted from PRT to PRT. For example, the USA PRTs were co-located with a wide range of military officials and special teams actively engaged in counterinsurgency and combat operations, with civilian staff to support the military effort. Conversely, the national policies of certain non-US PRTs placed restrictions on undertaking security-related functions without explicit approval from capitals, operating at night and venturing more than a set distance from camp (Perito, 2005). An added layer of complication was due to the cohabitation of several different nations within one PRT. Of the 26 PRTs, 12 were comprised solely of staff from the lead NATO nation, and 14 PRTs were multinational, often having one lead NATO nation and smaller military contingents from between one to four other countries, which sometimes included the US, and several civilian staff.9 Therefore, different groups within the same location would undertake

The policy stories 43 divergent activities according to their national policy directives. The PRT system was supposed to increase coherence and coordination between civilian and military actors. Instead, however, they were better characterised by inconsistency amongst the PRTs themselves and fractious relationships between the civilians and military staff both inside and outside of the PRTs, a theme that begins to be explored in Chapter 3.


In 2000, Afghanistan was the 69th largest recipient of ODA worldwide, receiving 0.3 per cent of total ODA flowing to developing countries. An assessment prepared by the UNDP and several other international organisations projected that recovery and reconstruction in Afghanistan would cost anywhere from 11 to US$18 billion from 2002-2012 (UNDP, 2002). UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the more than 60 nations in attendance to pledge USS10 billion for five years; US$6.3 billion were pledged (Reliefweb, 2002). By 2008, Afghanistan’s share of total ODA increased again by a massive USS 1.3 billion and then to a historic high of USS6.2 billion in 2009, the second-largest amount ever received in a single year by any recipient country after Iraq's US$8.8 billion in 2005 (World Bank, 2019).

Donors who had become established in Kabul after 2002 privileged their own bilateral channels and implementing agencies, and used funding channels in the provinces where their PRTs were present. NATO-member nations were putting significant funds into their PRTs and used them as a way to bypass multilateral channels and promote their domestic agendas. PRTs were engaging in governance and development activities far beyond the reach of what most actors, including the UN, had projected for them. In addition, Western countries funnelled aid bilaterally and through INGOs based in their home countries. INGOs distanced themselves from the UN, because they distrusted the politicisation of UNAMA, but also because they were now flush with funds. A myriad of new Afghan and international organisations appeared on the scene and began vying for the significant amounts of funding now available, but with little accountability as the following chapters will show.

Up until 2005, little to none of the technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Germany, Japan, or the United Kingdom was provided through coordinated programmes consistent with government strategy, and only one-third of the analytical work was done jointly (OECD, 2006). The chronic lack of transparency and communication of international donors with Afghan officials was exemplified in a report in which Afghan government officials stated they were unaware how one-third of all international aid assistance given to Afghanistan was spent between 2001 and 2008 (Waldman, 2008). In fact, only a small percentage of the aid funding has been run through government channels. Of the US$17 billion Afghan national budget in 2011, approximately 90 per cent or US$15.7 billion was delivered outside of government channels (Bjelica and Ruttig, 2018). The preference byinternational donors to not funnel aid money through the government contributed to a situation whereby aid agencies, funded directly by the donors rather than the Afghan government, continued to be the main providers of public services and donors, and could thus easily side-step working on national priorities as defined by the government. As a result, information on the programmes and services that were being implemented were often not available to government officials, or communities. This undermined the government and challenged the rhetoric of local ownership, but also, added to community perceptions of governmental and foreign corruption.

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