avec la collaboration de Madhi Mehraeen et Ibrahim Tavalla
War since 1979 and the reconstruction of the state under Western tutelage since 2001 have led to a simplification of the identity of Afghan society, through an invention of ethnicity and tradition – a process behind which the control or the ownership of the political and economic resources of the country are at stake. Hazarajat is a remarkable observation site of this process. Its forced integration into the nascent Afghan state during the late nineteenth century has left a mark on its history. The people of Hazara, mainly Shi’ite, has been relegated to a subordinate position from which it got out of progressively, only by means of jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the US intervention in 2001, at the ost of an ethnicization of its social and political consciousness. Ethnicity, however, is based on a less communitarian than unequal moral and political economy. Post-war aid to state-building has polarized social relations, while strengthening their ethnicization: donors and NGOs remain prisoners of a cultural, if not orientalist approach to the country that they thereby contribute to “traditionalize”, while development aid destabilizes the “traditional” society by accelerating its monetization and commodification.
Changes in the architecture of international engagements in peacemaking over the last decade can be traced through a comparison of the Peace Accords of 1997 which ended five years of civil war in Tajikistan with the on-going intervention in Afghanistan which began in the context of the global war against terrorism. The comparison points to the challenges that complex interventions face today: the collapse of stabilization, transition and consolidation phases of peacemaking; the lack of clarity about motivations for engagement; the ambiguous methods of state-building and uncertain ownership of peace processes. The success of the externally-led Tajikistan peace process can be attributed to the common search for collaboration between international organizations and regional powers and the gradual sequencing of the different stages: negotiation for power sharing, followed by consolidation, and finally state-building. By contrast, the changing motivations for intervention, the isolation of the Western alliance from regional actors, and the external actors’ own role as parties to war, which provokes escalating reactions, are the potential elements of failure in Afghanistan. Ultimately, it is the national ownership of peace processes that creates the necessary legitimacy for peacemaking to be durable.
Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.
Is the concept of “human security”, which has been discussed and debated in international organizations and academic circles since 1994, simply “hot air”, as its critics claim? Or does it provide a suitable framework for proposing multisectoral, integrated solutions in a world that is increasingly interconnected? While there is no consensus as to the exact definition of the term, human security goes beyond traditional notions of security to focus on such issues as development and respect for human rights. To some the concept is attractive, but analytically weak since it introduces too many variables that are not necessarily linked together. To others, human security concerns should be limited to situations marked by the threat or outbreak of violence. For those who favour a broad definition (as does this author), the human security agenda provides the means to assess the root causes of conflict (whether intra-state or inter-state), to propose adequate policies for resolving crises, and to provide the means for sustainable peace-building. In so doing human security policies focus on social and economic issues as they affect the individual, arguing that security (in the narrow sense of the term) is dependent on a wide-ranging network of factors that require a comprehensive approach to be effective. The paper introduces the various documents on the subject produced by international organizations, takes up the problem of the relation between academic research and policy-making, and points to a certain number of cases in which nations or regional organizations have included human security as a foreign policy option. Throughout the paper reference is made to the case of Afghanistan that is treated in the study reproduced in annex.