Thursday, March 28

Divided partners

Fear of Beauty and this blog describe the role of the provincial reconstruction teams - groups of civilian and military specialists - in Afghanistan as they provide technical advice and support in agriculture, education, health care, construction and many other areas. Of course, some teams have produced great achievements and others have been less successful. Philosophies differ, as demonstrated by the quarrels between Cameron and Mita in Fear of Beauty. So much depends how the teams worked with local governments.

Alexandra Gheciu details and analyzes NGO concerns about the PRTs in an article "Divided Partners: The Challenges of NATO-NGO Cooperation in Peacebuilding Operations" for Global Governance:

"From NATO's point of view, the contemporary blurring of boundaries between civilian and military actions in peacebuilding operations can be seen as an opportunity to bring into the sphere of humanitarian activity some of the advantages of the military culture of efficiency. But from the perspective of many NGOs, the existing blurring of boundaries is a deeply problematic development that should be contained and, as much as possible, reversed. What is needed, according to this logic, is a clear separation between the military and humanitarian norms and activities, and an affirmation of the leading role of humanitarian organizations in the definition of the rules of the game in activities that involve assistance to civilians in war-torn countries."

Gheciu concludes that a lack of coordination will only lead to more disagreements, wasted resources and "growing disenchantment both in the territories undergoing postconflict reconstruction and in the international community - with international peacebuilding operations."

Strong opinions are the norm. People quarrel, institutions quarrel - and with luck, communities progress.

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