By: Mariana del Rio Kostenwein
Pace International Law Review, Articles Editor
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001 when the US launched “Operation Enduring Freedom” with the assistance of British forces. The Taliban’s refusal to close terrorist camps in Afghanistan and turn over Al Qaeda leaders, who were believed to have orchestrated the September 11th attacks on the US, prompted the military campaign. For approximately the last nine years, American, British, and later also NATO forces have attempted to dismantle Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, remove the Al Qaeda-supporting Taliban regime from power, and stabilize the country. Today, this battle rages on and the quest to create peace continues.
In 2006, the Afghan government unveiled its Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice in an effort to stabilize the country. In 2007, the Afghan Parliament passed the National Reconciliation, General Amnesty, and General Stability Law, which is an amnesty law that would immunize those individuals, who participated in armed conflict in Afghanistan prior to the formation of the Interim Administration in December 2001, from prosecution. Proponents of the amnesty law argue that it is a step forward in creating peace in the war torn country. Opponents argue that former warlords now in government, who seek immunity from criminal prosecution, passed the amnesty law and it violates international law. They argue that Afghanistan is a state party to such treaties as the Geneva Conventions, the Torture Convention, and the Genocide Convention, which require the government to prosecute or extradite perpetrators of serious human rights violations. In addition, Afghanistan is a state party to the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutes of Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, which would prohibit the Afghan Parliament from passing such an amnesty law.
Recently, Pakistan has become involved in brokering a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban. A part of the peace deal would include the Haqqani network, a part of the Taliban, in the Afghan Parliament in the future. The US is skeptical of the peace deal, however, because it believes that the Taliban has little incentive to join a power-sharing government. CIA Director, Leon Panetta, has stated that unless the Taliban fears defeat in Afghanistan, he believes that there is little likelihood that a peace deal will be successful.
One thing is certain and that is that the War in Afghanistan has become the longest foreign war the US has been involved in. President Obama plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan beginning in 2011, however, with little hope for peace in the near future, it appears the withdrawal date will likely be pushed back.