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The United States and the International Assistance Force for Afghanistan (ISAF)
The United States (U.S.) has great influence over the international agenda for Afghanistan. The significant deference shown by other governments to U.S. positions on Afghanistan was reflected in a recent statement by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "What the U.S. is prepared or not prepared to do in Afghanistan in the security and military sense has quite a lot of impact on what other governments are prepared to do."204

U.S. policy makers are clearly aware of the danger posed by warlordism and ethnic tensions in Afghanistan, but are divided about the commitment the U.S. is willing to make to address these issues in Afghanistan. Reportedly, in a February 2002 classified report, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned of the danger of violent chaos if warlords and ethnic conflict in Afghanistan are not addressed.205 According to press reports, the U.S. State Department argued at the time within the U.S. administration for the expansion of the British-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), without committing U.S. troops to the task-the U.S. military would limit its own commitment to flying other nation's troops and supplies to and from Afghanistan and providing logistical support.206 The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmy Khalilzad, told reporters after his February 2002 visit to Afghanistan that "the major, overall challenge is how to prevent a return to warlordism [in Afghanistan]."207 Khalilzad, however, refused to endorse an expanded ISAF force, stating "we do not want Afghanistan to become a kind of security welfare state."208

The major opposition within the U.S. administration to an expansion of the ISAF force, even without a contribution of U.S. troops, came from the Department of Defense. The State Department's internal proposal for an expanded ISAF led to an unusually public objection from the Department of Defense, arguing that an expanded ISAF would divert resources from the U.S.'s broader campaign against terrorism.209 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went on the record with his objections, stating "Another school of thought, which is where my brain is, is that why put all the time and money in [expanding ISAF]? Why not put it into helping [the Afghan authorities] develop a national army so that they can look out for themselves over time?"210 However, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks do not take into account the fact that the establishment of a professional Afghan national army will take considerable time, and that an international security presence will be needed to provide security during that security vacuum.211

The ISAF Contributing Countries
While the United States is focused on fighting the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda forces, the European Union (E.U.) has taken the primary role in providing the security forces envisioned under the Bonn Agreement and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1386 (2001). The ISAF consists of approximately 4,500 peacekeepers who are currently confined to working in the capital, Kabul. Eighteen countries currently contribute troops to ISAF, while the U.S. role is limited to providing air transportation, other logistical assistance, and an emergency evacuation plan for the ISAF troops.212 Great Britain is currently commanding the ISAF operation, but plans to hand over command to Turkey when its six-month mandate expires.

Hamid Karzai, chairman of Afghanistan's Interim Administration, has consistently called on the international community in general and European nations in particular to expand ISAF to cover areas outside Kabul; he has repeatedly asserted that ordinary Afghans ask more for "security and dignity than food."213 The E.U.'s special commissioner for Afghanistan, Klaus-Peter Klaiber, has also warned that without extension of ISAF, "The political and reconstruction process will not be successful."214 Klaiber expressed his opinion that ISAF's mission should "be extended geographically," but stressed that the E.U. had not yet reached a common position on expansion of ISAF.215

Despite these calls for expansion and extension of ISAF's presence in Afghanistan, European capitals have been reluctant to shoulder the additional burden.216 The United Kingdom, which currently has the leadership role in ISAF, is still planning on ending its command role by the end of June, when funding for the British contingent in Kabul ends.217 France, which faces a presidential election in April, has also rejected calls for an expanded presence. After a meeting with Hamid Karzai, French president Jacques Chirac said that he was "not convinced that [expansion of ISAF] is the right solution."218 Similarly, German chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder has stated that he is "skeptical about extending the territory of the mandate" of ISAF, and warned that Germany's military capacity was stretched by other peacekeeping duties around the world.219 The Netherlands have also publicly stated their opposition to an expansion of ISAF, as has Italy.220

Turkey is widely expected to take over the command of the ISAF operation, and has also expressed skepticism about expanding ISAF beyond Kabul. Furthermore, Turkey has articulated a number of conditions before assuming a larger role in ISAF, chief among them a call for extensive financial assistance and the presence of a NATO structure in Afghanistan.221

The United Nations
Ultimately, the Afghan Interim Authority derives its authority from the Bonn Agreement and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1386 (2001). Both documents entrusted the United Nations with a great deal of responsibility in helping Afghanistan achieve a civilian representative government. This role is particularly emphasized in the Bonn Agreement during the tenure of the Interim Authority and the transition to a more permanent government: "The United Nations shall advise the Interim Authority in establishing a politically neutral environment conducive to the holding of the Emergency Loya Jirga in free and fair conditions. The United Nations shall pay special attention to the conduct of those bodies and administrative departments which could directly influence the convening and outcome of the emergency Loya Jirga."222 In order to ensure that the people of northern Afghanistan are represented adequately in the Emergency Loya Jirga, regardless of their ethnicity, class, or religion, the United Nations must take steps to investigate security conditions and address the problems.

Under Section III of the Bonn Agreement, for instance, the United Nations pledged to assist the Interim Administration with monitoring and investigating human rights violations. Annex II to the Bonn Agreement gave the United Nations-and specifically, the office of Lakhdar Brahimi, the special representative of the secretary-general-"the right to investigate human rights violations and, where necessary, recommend corrective action." However, to date the United Nations has not created an effective comprehensive monitoring system. It is vital for the United Nations to create such a mechanism, especially in the period before the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.

More generally, the international community needs to act to stop the violence against Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan, a task that cannot currently or for the foreseeable future be handled solely by the Afghan authorities. The U.N. Security Council needs to expand the mandate of the ISAF for Afghanistan to include areas outside Kabul, most urgently northern Afghanistan. Efforts at ensuring accountability for past and current abuses should be accelerated, and the capacity of the international community to monitor abuses in Afghanistan must be bolstered. Security and accountability for abuses are crucial for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the legitimacy of the new government. These issues are also primary prerequisites for the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of the millions of Afghans-many of whom are ethnic Pashtuns-who are displaced inside the country, or who are living as refugees in neighboring countries.

Several top U.N. officials have publicly called for an expansion of ISAF forces beyond Kabul. U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi publicly supported an expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul when he addressed the U.N. Security Council on February 6, 2002, saying: "The visible presence of ISAF troops in the capital has led to an improvement in the security situation in Kabul. This has led to increasingly vocal demands, by ordinary Afghans as well as members of the Interim Administration and even warlords [for an expansion of ISAF]." Brahimi added that he supported those calls for an ISAF expansion, but commented later that "how many and where will have to be decided by the experts."223 On March 20, 2002, Brahimi expressed concern about abuses faced by ethnic Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan and stated his hope "that the people who were responsible for these abuses are not going to go unpunished."224

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has also called for a geographic expansion of ISAF, after she traveled to Afghanistan to personally assess the human rights situation. After her visit, she stated "the core human rights problem at the moment in Afghanistan is human security." 225 Robinson specifically urged the deployment of ISAF beyond Kabul: "I think that the international force that is here must be extended beyond Kabul, and that's very clear when you're [in Afghanistan] ... because you cannot have rebuilding of a whole society and security for human rights if you have violence, if you have killings, if you have robberies, if you have looting, if you have women terrified."226


Research for this report was conducted in northern Afghanistan during February and March, 2002, by Farhat Bokhari, Researcher in Human Rights Watch's Women's Rights Division; Peter Bouckaert, Senior Researcher for Emergencies; Vikram Parekh, Researcher in the Asia Division; and Saman Zia-Zarifi, Senior Researcher. Nathalie Godard, Consultant to Human Rights Watch, provided additional research and logistical support in Kabul.

The report was written by Peter Bouckaert and edited by Vikram Parekh, Sidney Jones, Executive Director of the Asia division, James Ross, Senior Legal Advisor, Alison Parker, Leonard H. Sandler Fellow on Refugee Policy, and Michael McClintock, Deputy Program Director. Invaluable assistance was provided by Jonathan Horowitz, Neela De Soyza, and Wen-Hua Yang, Associates. Patrick Minges, Publication Director, prepared the report for publication.

The maps included in this report were produced by Tim Lohnes for Human Rights Watch, based on the Afghanistan Information Management Service (AIMS) dataset.

Our research in Afghanistan required a significant amount of financial assistance to meet the logistical and security challenges posed by Afghanistan's post-war environment. Human Rights Watch would like to express its deepest appreciation to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockfeller Brothers Fund, and Stiching Doen for their timely and generous contributions to our emergency work in Afghanistan.

Human Rights Watch would like to express thanks to the many local and international organizations who supported our research in northern Afghanistan, but who must remain unnamed for security reasons.

Human Rights Watch
Women's Rights Division

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

We stand with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime.

We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.

We challenge governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Michele Alexander, development director; Reed Brody, advocacy director; Carroll Bogert, communications director; John T. Green, operations director, Barbara Guglielmo, finance director; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Michael McClintock, deputy program director; Patrick Minges, publications director; Maria Pignataro Nielsen, human resources director; Malcolm Smart, program director; Wilder Tayler, legal and policy director; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.

Its Women's Rights Division was established in 1990 to monitor violence and discrimination against women throughout the world. LaShawn R. Jefferson is the executive director; Widney Brown is theadvocacy director; Farhat Bokhari, Chirumbidzo Mabuwa, Isis Nusair, Judith Sunderland, and Martina
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204 Elizabeth Neufer, "US, Britain Asking Turkey to Oversee Security in Afghanistan," Boston Globe, March 14, 2002.

205 Michael Gordon, "C.I.A. Sees Threat Afghan Factions May Bring Chaos," New York Times, February 21, 2002.

206 Ibid.

207 Marcella Bombardieri, "US Advisers Mulled to Aid Peacekeeping; Afghan Warlords Threaten Process, Bush Envoys Says," Boston Globe, February 25, 2002.

208 Ibid.

209 Gordon, "C.I.A. Sees Threat."

210 Ibid.

211 Michael Gordon, "Fielding an Afghan Army is Months Off, US Finds," New York Times, March 21, 2002; Michael Gordon, "Where Does Phase 2 Start? In Afghanistan," New York Times, March 10, 2002.

212 The countries currently contributing troops to ISAF are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and Turkey. See Center for Defense Information, "Fact Sheet: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan," February 14, 2002.

213 Mohammad Bashir, "Karzai Leaves Paris Without Pledge on Expanding ISAF Role," Agence France Presse, March 1, 2002.

214 Judy Dempsey, "EU's Special Envoy Seeks More Peacekeepers," Financial Times, March 8, 2002.

215 "EU Afghan Commissioner calls for Expansion of ISAF Mandate, Criticizes Karzai," BBC Monitoring, March 10, 2002; "EU/Afghanistan: Union's Special Envoy to Afghanistan Pleads for Extension of Mandate," Agence Europe, March 8, 2002.

216 Edward Alden, "Rumsfeld Calls on Allies for Extra Funding," Financial Times, March 16, 2002.

217 Ibid.

218 Mohammad Bashir, "Karzai Leaves Paris."

219 Michael Adler, "Germany's Schroeder opposes wider Afghan peacekeeping force," Agence France Presse, March 14, 2002; Carol J. Williams, "Karzai Fails to Enlist Germany Diplomacy: Afghan leader is unable to persuade Berlin to take peacekeeping role when Britain steps down," Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2002.

220 Dutch foreign minister Jozias van Aartsen stated, following meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, that "The impression of the U.S. government and the Netherlands government as well ... is that there is no need for an expansion of ISAF." "Netherlands Against Expansion of Afghan Peace Force," Reuters, March 18, 2002. Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino stated that he was opposed to extending ISAF to cover all of Afghanistan, saying that such an expansion would be "very risky from a technical and military point of view." "Italian Minister Against Widening Foreign Deployment in Afghanistan," BBC Monitoring, February 5, 2002.

221 Saaded Oruc, "Meeting on ISAF to be Held on Thursday," Turkish Daily News, March 13, 2002; "Turkey Accepts Command of Afghan Peace Force," Associated Press, April 1, 2002.

222 Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, Annex II, Para. 3.

223 "UN Backs Afghan Call for Larger International Force, Salutes Iran," Agence France-Presse, February 6, 2002; "Secretary-General, Special Representative Brahimi tell Security Council rapid disbursement of funds essential for Afghan recovery," M2 Presswire, February 7, 2002.

224 Said Mohammad Azam, "UN's Afghan Envoy Expresses Fear Over Abuses in North," Agence France-Presse, March 20, 2002.

225 "UN Rights Commissioner urges more foreign troops in Afghanistan," Agence France-Presse, March 12, 2002.

226 Charles Recknagel, "UN Condemns Attacks On Ethnic Pashtuns," Radio Free Europe, March 13, 2002.

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