Internationally sponsored disarmament and demobilisation in Afghanistan was characterised by a marked divergence between the bureaucratic process designed by the UN and the political reality of disarmament. The bureaucratic process had several flaws of its own, which were particularly obvious in the case of DIAG, but the main reason for the substantial failure of disarmament was the absence of political will among key Afghan partners. International players in the process choose to compromise on rather unfavourable terms, saving the facade of demobilisation thanks to the formal disbandment of the militias incorporated under the Ministry of Defence, but in fact allowing thousands of militias to continue operating throughout the country. The article shows how the very limited impact of DDR and even more so DIAG was already obvious in the early stages of the process and was deliberately ignored. The article concludes that the compromise could at least have achieved some limited aims, such as delegitimising the militias, had not many of their leaders been allowed to compete successfully for parliamentary seats shortly afterwards.
Conflict, Security and Development (2008) 8 (2) 169-192 [10.1080/14678800802095369]
Bureaucratic facade and political realities of disarmament and demobilisation in Afghanistan