submission of Robin-Edward Poulton

Paper deliverd by the author to a symposium at Washington, DC on Oct 21, 2009

The report consists of five parts:

1: Summary Report

2: Lessons and Recommendations

3: Commander Incentives Programme

4: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

5: Annexes


Between 2003 and 2006 the UNDP and UNAMA assisted the Government of Afghanistan to organise the down-sizing and disarmament of Afghan Military Forces. Generous support from a number of donors, led by Japan, funded the Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) created for this purpose, leading to more than 63,000 ex-combatants being disarmed and demobilized and more than 106,000 weapons collected.

An external evaluation of the DDR and CIP components of ANBP was desired by all stakeholders, to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Afghan experience, to identify its impacts, and to draw lessons from the Afghan experience that can be useful to other disarmament programmes. This is the evaluation report prepared by a team of four independent specialists.


The Evaluation Team was requested to evaluate the DDR and CIP components of the Afghan New Beginnings Project, to analyze the direct and indirect impacts of the programme, and draw Lessons Learned, and to make recommendations to the Government of Afghanistan, UNDP and the donor working group concerning future policies and strategies in support of ANBP’s objectives.

We identify eight different components inside the ANBP. The ‘Ammo Project’ and ‘DIAG’ were accorded separate project status, but they could have been integral parts of a six-year DDR programme. Likewise the Heavy Weapons Cantonment could have been a separate project, but wasn’t. Reintegration is so complex that could have been broken down functionally into a number of different units. This raises structural DDR management issues we address in the Lessons Learned.

We find that the Disarmament & Reintegration Commission Chaired by Vice-President Khalili (with Minister Stanekzai as Vice-Chairman) is the appropriate high-level mechanism for coordinating inter-ministerial actions and the Afghan government’s partnership with UNAMA and UNDP in the delicate security sector.
We recommend that the mandate of the D&R Commission should be extended to cover destruction of surplus weapons and ammunitions and explosives, and that this activity should receive continued UNAMA and UNDP support for three more years.

We find that the original three-year mandate of ANBP was too short, and its work is incomplete due to this programme design error. Donors were generous and far-sighted in their support of ANBP: funding was adequate and flexible, and funds arrived early enough for project activities to work smoothly. Yet all donors recognize that the work is not complete. We recommend that the Ammo and DIAG projects should not be handed over to the GoA in 2008. On the contrary, we recommend that UNAMA and UNDP should continue to support the government in managing these projects, assuring international standards and recognition for a further three years.

We recognize the extreme sensitivity of weapon policy and weapon ownership issues in Afghanistan. Afghans have an historical relationship with firearms that borders on the romantic, and Afghans are sensitive to the fact that the millions of small arms and munitions in the country have cost it dear in money and in blood. Nevertheless some dramatic symbol is needed from the nation’s political leaders, to show Afghans and the world that the legacy of war is broken and the flow of weapons must be stopped.

We recommend that the emotional dependency of the Afghan nation on firearms should be challenged in a dramatic way with a major, public and symbolic destruction of soviet era surplus weapons that tells Afghans, ‘We must put the rule of firearms behind us.’ This weapon destruction ceremony should take place on 9th July 2008 (UN International Weapon Destruction Day). A documentary film should be made of the ceremony and widely broadcast. President Karzai should describe and highlight this dramatic event – and Afghanistan’s destruction of its mine stockpiles – in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2008. We believe this will radically change international and domestic perceptions of Afghanistan’s progress towards peace.

Disarmament is first and foremost a political activity, and its success should be judged by political factors. We find that the ANBP disarmament project – and specifically through its DDR and CIP components – has made a significant contribution towards promoting peace and bringing stability in Afghanistan.

Overall we are favourably impressed with the management, results and impacts of ANBP. The collection of light and heavy weapons changed the level and nature of potential violence in Afghanistan and brought commanders into the political and electoral processes. Downsizing the armed forces, and the defence budget, paved the way for creating a new national army. DDR has been the most successful aspect of Afghanistan’s security sector reform. The CIP created significant peace building and reconciliation initiatives, while helping to buy time for a democratic political process to develop. The destruction of weapons, ammunition and stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines has brought very significant benefits to Afghanistan, although these achievements are not sufficiently recognized at home or overseas.

ANBP created an excellent, committed Afghan staff whose competence is a national asset. ANBP missed opportunities with demobilization and reintegration, and we recommend that UNDP should pursue post-integration activities for three more years through the NSP, the RSPE, and the NABDP. We recommend that eight ANBP regional offices should be maintained to support the ongoing Ammo, DIAG and post-reintegration projects, and that other UN projects should use these offices for greater decentralization, for national capacity building, and to obtain development impact in the provinces.

Team composed of:

-Dr. Robin-Edward Poulton, EPES Mandala Counsulting – Team Leader

-Ms. Chimène Mandakovic (from DDR and Congo and Rwanda) – CIP Specialist

-Ms. Jayaseeli Bonnet (fresh from evaluating DDR in Angola) – DDR Specialist

-Dr. Javid Ahmadi, Afghan Medical Practitioner – Medical Specialist



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 Oct 2009.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: REPORT OF THE EVALUATION OF DDR (DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION) AND CIP (COMMANDER’S INCENTIVE PROGRAM) IN AFGHANISTAN, is included. Thank you.

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