AAN Papers

Golden Surrender: The Risks, Challenges, and Implications of Reintegration in Afghanistan


The reintegration of former fighters is one of the main pillars in the unfolding counterinsurgency strategy. It is however more complex and difficult to accomplish than is commonly appreciated.

In this paper Matt Waldman (fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University) explores the obstacles to a successful reintegration programme. These obstacles include lack of trust, insurgent cohesion, and revenge attacks on participants, as well as a dissonance between the incentives offered and the factors that cause people to fight.

Matt Waldman argues that a well-executed reintegration scheme could have positive social, economic and stabilization benefits and thus reduce the force of the insurgency, but that if mishandled, it could actually do the reverse. The focus on reintegration, moreover, risks distracting attention from the root causes of the conflict, leading to interventions that may address the symptoms of the disease, without dealing with the disease itself.

To download the full paper click here

Afghanistan Analysts Network, Discussion Paper 03/2010.

Released 22 April 2010.

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