Manley Panel: Heavy on Combat, Light on Diplomacy, Development and Peace-Building

Tasneem Jamal

News release on Manley Report from Canadian Council for International Co-operation

January 22, 2008

Ottawa – “The Manley report says many of the right things, but its recommendations are potentially a recipe for more, not less, insecurity for Afghans”, says Gerry Barr, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), a coalition of almost 100 Canadian NGOs.

Barr says the Panel’s call for increased attention to diplomacy, development and governance, and a greater effort at training the Afghan army and police, is welcome. But too much of the report is devoted to beefing up the international military presence – as if the conflict in Afghanistan could be resolved militarily.

“We know that is unlikely,” says Barr. “So, if we are truly concerned about the lives and safety of our men and women in uniform, then we have to invest much more heavily in bringing the conflict to an end.”

The conflict, he says, has roots in history, in regional geopolitics, superpower politics, and in legitimate grievances over the sharing of resources and political power in Afghanistan. Peace efforts must take this into account.

“Peace-building has to address these causes at the community and political level, and not by investing ever more in the combat mission,” says Barr. “A peace process aimed at reconciliation and creating and building trust in institutions of governance, justice and human rights is the key to security for Afghans, and for our troops.”

In this respect, Barr says that the Panel’s emphasis on diplomacy largely refers to diplomacy around the military mission, rather than diplomacy in the cause of peace in Afghanistan and the region.

Barr also says he is disappointed the Panel didn’t address the consequences of military delivery of aid for strategic purposes.

“Canadian NGOs on the ground in Afghanistan have emphasized, again and again, that this practice turns both aid workers and Afghans into war targets and often has no long term security or development benefit,” Barr says.

Barr would like Parliament to move beyond the limitations of the Manley report to deepen the debate.

“Peace, development and real security for Afghans, need to be the watchwords of our mission. That’s the sort of commitment Canadians can get behind. It is also the recipe for bringing our troops home as soon as possible.”

For more information:

Peter Puxley
Media Relations
Tel: (613) 241-7007 ext. 311

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