Setting the scene for Afghanistan's reconstruction: the challenges and critical dilemmas

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The current round of fighting in Afghanistan is only the latest twist in a protracted conflict in which the focus of the international community has tended to fluctuate, depending on prevailing geopolitical agendas. Now in its third decade, the war has resulted in massive population displacement, both internal and external, casualty figures in excess of one million, and a serious deterioration in conditions for the civilian population. This paper takes as its starting point the events of 11 September 2001, which led to the recent dramatic changes in Afghanistan, including the Emergency Loya Jirga and other constitutional developments envisaged in the Bonn Agreement. By way of essential background, the paper then offers a brief introduction to the country; it describes the way in which conflict began and traces the various different phases of the war from the late 1970s to the present day. In so doing, it seeks to outline the global and historical context of the current crisis in Afghanistan. It considers the challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve effective post-conflict reconstruction and development. Finally, it offers a brief overview of current UN plans for Afghanistan's reconstruction and outlines a number of critical dilemmas facing those involved in their implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-816
Number of pages16
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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