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Targeting narcoinsurgents in Afghanistan: the limits of international humanitarian law

Schmitt, M. ORCID: (2009) Targeting narcoinsurgents in Afghanistan: the limits of international humanitarian law. Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, 12. pp. 301-320. ISSN 1574-096X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S1389135909000117


In October 2008, upon the request of the Afghan government, NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Budapest agreed that ‘ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] can act in concert with the Afghans against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency, in the context of counternarcotics, subject to the authorization of respective nations’. In explaining the scope of the contemplated actions, NATO officials noted that drug producers and traffickers who aided the ongoing insurgency could now be attacked. NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), US General Bantz Craddock, justified the policy on the ground that the Taliban reaped over $100 million annually from the drug trade. US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates likewise defended the decision as sound strategy. It soon became clear that other key figures were less enamoured with the new approach, or the subsequent guidance issued to effectuate it. On 5 January 2009, Craddock instructed General Egon Ramms, the German Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, which overseas NATO operations in Afghanistan, ‘to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan’. The threshold for engagement seemed to require little connection to the insurgency. According to SACEUR's guidance, it was ‘no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective’ because the alliance ‘has decided that (drug traffickers and narcotics facilities) are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and thus may be attacked’.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:90294
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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