The comprehensive approach and NGOs : coherence and its effects on dealing with dilemmas and differences : The cases of Denmark, UK and the Netherlands in Afghanistan

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The comprehensive approach (CA) is the result of the changes in the international security environment. It became clear that most conflicts are complex and that a onedimensional military approach does not suffice. Civil wars like the one in Afghanistan have led governments and organisations, such as the EU and UN, to realise that a new approach is needed. This became known as the CA. The approach is based on the thought that there should also be a political, civilian and socio-economic component besides the traditionally military component in post-conflict and counterinsurgency operations. This research study takes a closer look at the British and Danish missions in Helmand and the Dutch mission in Uruzgan, to find out how NGOs are dealt with in the CA and to what extent this affects the different approaches to the dilemmas and differences. For the purpose of this research study the CA is defined as “greater coherence in the different approaches of different organisations”. In addition, the study makes use of a list of dilemmas and differences that play a role within a CA. The research study attempts to map the type and degree of coherence that can be pursued between local, national and international NGOs and the different government departments for the three cases. It finds that there have been many different forms of interaction between the three approaches. Each approach has had its own level of coherence between NGOs and the mission. Moreover, it appears that the level of coherence has differed according to the level at which it has taken place, the strategic or the operational level, and whether it has concerned cooperation with local, national or international NGOs. Moreover, it shows that the difference in the level of coherence has contributed to the way in which the three approaches have dealt with the dilemmas and differences between the actors involved in the CA. It finds that the greater the level of coherence between NGOs and the different government departments within the mission, the more effort exists to include NGOs in the approach to the dilemmas. Moreover, when non-government and government measures are combined, most officials and military personnel view the differences as complementary rather than negative. Finally, the report shows that when there is a tremendous military authority within the mission, dilemmas and differences are dealt with from a military perspective, in which NGOs are not so much included.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen