Subject: FT: Nation-building

Financial Times

Letter to Editor

Nation-building and Afghanistan

By Kenneth C Payumo

Published: December 30 2002 4:00

From Prof Kenneth C. Payumo.

Sir, The notion that international nation-building strategies should include "practices that command wider assent than at present" was splendidly articulated by John Lloyd (Analysis, December 27).

The practice of "model institutions" being parachuted into developing or war-torn nations is finally being revealed by practitioners and academia alike as a bad investment for the international donor community.

Developing a nation's government and hoping for the best certainly increases the chances that the institutions cultivated will either be misused (through lack of experience) or abused (by the resurfacing of past corrupt practices).

Recent examples in Afghanistan and East Timor underscore post-mission monitoring. On November 13, at least four students were reported killed by Afghan police in Kabul.

The police reportedly opened fire with automatic weapons at students who were throwing stones while protesting at the lack of electricity and water in their derelict dormitories.

Afghanistan is at the virtual start of its nation-building experience. There is a substantial international presence, and investigating the incident under the watchful eye of the international community is still possible.

On December 5, at least one student was killed by police in Dili, East Timor. Timorese police reportedly opened fire (in the presence of an Associated Press photographer) at students throwing stones while protesting at the arrest of a fellow student for gang violence.

East Timor is at the end of its nation-building experience, with independence gained in May 2002.

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) during its administration had established a transparent mechanism to manage the actions of the officer(s) involved in the shooting of the student, and is still present to monitor and support the institutions that the transitional administration had developed.

Post-mission planning has proven to be an essential part of nation-building.

Post-mission monitoring provides a method of ensuring that the work and funds of the international community are an investment for the future rather than a band-aid of the present.

In essence, the establishment of institutions during nation-building projects do not eliminate incidents that had occurred prior to international intervention.

Only one phase of the nation-building task is accomplished once institutions are established.

The next phase is to stick around to make sure that what the international community has built actually works when it is applied - particularly in Iraq.

Kenneth C. Payumo, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Management, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY 10019, US (Formerly appointed to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor as policy adviser to the UN international police commissioner.)

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