This year, two expansive — and expensive — international peace and security entities will pass a significant milestone. The United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the NATO operation in Afghanistan have been deployed for two decades.
Although these missions differ in many respects, notably in the scale and intensity of their military operations, they did share, at least at the start, some comparable ambitions. The UN Security Council authorized both interventions, which were mandated to help bolster national security, assist the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups, support security-sector reform, promote human rights and, broadly speaking, re-establish the authority of the state while also facilitating political development through constitutional change and national elections.
Now, 20 years on, the UN and NATO face an analogous predicament as they aim to end these missions without risking a reversal of what has been accomplished, at considerable human and financial cost, during the years of intervention.
The threat of the Taliban insurgency (and attacks by Islamic State militants) still looms large in Afghanistan. The insurgency has not been defeated, and there remains justifiable fear that the Taliban is biding its time until NATO and US forces pull out. Should the Taliban return to power in Kabul, the social gains in education, health and the rights of women might be quickly overturned, while hostilities could intensify as other groups contest its rule.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.