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Impunity and insurgency: a deadly combination in Afghanistan

31-12-2010 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 880, by Norah Niland

Disillusionment with the continued abuse of power, along with the steady increase in war-related casualties, is a significant driver of the escalating insurgency. It is not realistic to envisage an end to armed conflict and the development of democratic and accountable state institutions while impunity reigns.

Abstract

The judgement of key decision-makers to ignore the critical problem of impunity – the lack of accountability for egregious human rights violations – contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of Afghans has had devastating, if predictable, consequences. Disillusionment with the continued abuse of power, along with the steady increase in war-related casualties, is a significant driver of the escalating insurgency. Experience over the past nine years highlights an urgent need to address the strategic issue of systemic and structural injustice. It is not realistic to envisage an end to armed conflict and the development of democratic and accountable state institutions while impunity reigns.

Biography

Norah Niland worked in Afghanistan (1999-2002) as UN Senior Human Rights Advisor and, more recently (2008-2010), as Director of Human Rights, UNAMA and Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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