State legitimacy in Afghanistan and the role of the international community (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1068)

Abstract

Query

What does the literature identify as the main factors that support or undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan state? What evidence is there that the international community has influenced state legitimacy in Afghanistan over the past 12 years? What opportunities (and risks) are there for the international community to support state legitimacy in Afghanistan?

Summary

The literature identified through this rapid literature review highlighted a number of factors that support or undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan state, including: local governance structures; corruption; service delivery; legitimising ideologies of the Afghan state; accountability deficits; and the 2001 Bonn Agreement.

In terms of evidence of international community influence on state legitimacy, three areas of focus are explored: international community delivering on state-building and peace-building promises; balancing output- and input-based sources of legitimacy; and examples from donor funded development projects in Afghanistan.

In terms of opportunities and risks of supporting state legitimacy in Afghanistan, three issues are identified: transition to Afghan ownership in 2014; supporting governance related projects; and risks of externally driven state-building.

The rapid literature review conducted for this query revealed a large literature base exploring the factors that have influenced the legitimacy of the Afghan state since 2001. Much of this is found in journals (both in policy- and practitioner-oriented journals, and academic journals) and think-tank publications (largely on conflict or Western policy). The literature tends to focus more on military issues and international dimensions, with a smaller focus on state-building, development and humanitarian aspects. The state-building literature offers fewer references possibly as there has been limited work on legitimacy as an object of study (Mcloughlin, 2013).

Citation

Herbert, S. State legitimacy in Afghanistan and the role of the international community (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1068). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 13 pp.

State legitimacy in Afghanistan and the role of the international community (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1068)

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