AbstractsPolitical Science

The Prioritisation and Development of Accountability inAfghanistan: A norm development examination of liberalstatebuilding

by Karolina Olofsson

Institution: University of Manchester
Year: 2016
Keywords: Statebuilding; Liberal Peace; Good Governance; Post-Conflict; Accountability; Afghanistan; Norm Development
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2080112
Full text PDF: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/escholar/uk-ac-man-scw:301712


Liberal Statebuilding in post-conflict societies is a very complex, intricate and dynamic task that is often based on liberal assumptions. Critiques argue that local contributions to define democracy and its norms, such as accountability, tend to be limited since local experiences are often perceived by the aid and statebuilding community to predate liberal requirements. Democratic norms are consequently often based on external international legitimacy and intentions rather than on domestic acceptance. In order to explore this further, this thesis critically examines the development of one democratic norm, accountability, in Afghanistan by using field data and applying Sikkink and Finnemore’s Norm Life Cycle to three accountability characteristics. These map out the norm’s legitimacy, its methods and relationship between Afghan citizens and government in order to understand the manifestation of accountability.The objective of the thesis is to assess whether accountability in Afghanistan was developed as intended by liberal statebuilding between 2001 and 2013. Empirical findings show that accountability did not manifest per the liberal democratic definition since the social and political realities that heavily impact norm development were not incorporated in the statebuilding approach. Combining theoretical and conceptual analysis, the research contributes to the Critical Peace Studies and Good Enough Governance literature and concludes that the liberal statebuilding methodology introduced accountability in a de-contextualised way that deprived it from norm contestation and local legitimacy. The thesis argues that this had both positive and negative effects. Accountability was introduced to a context that could benefit from its existence, but its introduction was done in an inconsistent manner that weakened its domestic conceptualisation by ignoring the link between social action and political power. Moreover the international community’s role in promoting accountability in Afghanistan both advanced and hampered the development of the liberal norm. Donors were able to raise accountability’s profile in the democratisation process but did so from an inaccessible and unaccountable political space that further removed Afghan citizens from policymaking and politics. The thesis’ application of a norm development lens to statebuilding provides a more in-depth and nuanced analysis to democratisation and one that, I hope, is original. It uses this alternative methodology to engage both with academic debate, and with policy development and implementation. The suggested approach allows for a better insight into the mergence between liberal concepts and local contexts as it not only confirms the existence of hybridity or mergence, but it also elaborates on its quality and consequences. It further proposes a more emancipatory statebuilding process that moves beyond a top-down vs. bottom-up perspective to a more enfranchised and integrated approach. Advisors/Committee Members: MUELLER, TANJA T, Mueller, Tanja, Macginty, Roger.