Nieuws - 27 januari 2011

Afghanistan missions stands little chance of success

Joris Tielens

The Netherlands needs to be wholehearted about its mission to Afghanistan. At its current level, Professor of Disaster Studies doubts whether the mission stands much chance of success.

Thea Hilhorst visited Camp Holland in 2007 and discussed the mission with General Dick Berlijn and Afghan ministers. After her visit, she argued  - in Resource and elsewhere - for more police training as part of the mission in Uruzghan. So what is her view of the current cabinet's plans? When asked, she expresses some doubts. 'The police mission that is now being proposed is a drop in the ocean compared to the mission in Uruzghan, says Hilhorst. 'That mission was broad-based. There was not just military input but also training for police, lawyers and government.'
And yet even that major effort did not achieve much when it comes to improving the way the police or the lawcourts function, concluded Hilhorst from evaluation reports. 'The police cannot work without a properly functioning legal system. Everyday criminality is hardly ever addressed in Afghanistan. And why should you arrest a thief if there is no lawyer to sentence him, or if the thief can buy his way out of trouble?'

Done enough
Hilhorts thinks sending out a police force does have some symbolic value in showing that the Netherlands is not abandoning Afghanistan. 'There are forces at work in Afghanistan to improve human rights there. We went into the adventure last time alongside them. An adventure that is important for us too.'
However, you could also say that the Netherlands has done enough in Afghanistan, with the mission to Uruzghan, she adds. What is more: 'Up to now the experience is that police officers do not dish out penalties or observe human rights. They are mainly deployed for military purposes. So for me there are serious questions as to whether this mission will contribute to a better police force in Kunduz.