Document Type


Publication Date

January 2003


With the destruction of the Taliban regime, the international community is turning its attention toward the establishment of an interim government consistent with the Bonn Accords, and the identification of a process for selecting a more long-term governing arrangement. As is well known, these first steps toward establishing a new government in Afghanistan are the beginning of a long and difficult process for re-establishing peace. Absent a comprehensive and attainable plan for nation rebuilding in Afghanistan, the United States may find that despite its victory on the battle- field, it may be unable to adequately achieve its long term security objectives.

While many groups and organizations were working within the shadow of the Bonn Conference to rapidly consider how best to accomplish a myriad of important objectives, such as reinstating the rule of law, promoting economic development, designing a program of agricultural reform, and creating a transparent form of democratic government, on November 30th, 2001 the Public International Law and Policy Group and the New England Center for International Law and Policy convened a Committee of Experts to consider broader questions which might properly shape the international community’s response to nation rebuilding in Afghanistan. In particular, the Committee of Experts examined the opportunity for constructive international community involvement arising from the recent development of contemporary norms of intermediate and evolving sovereignty developed from the recent precedents of Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and East Timor, and the utility of creating a framework of conditionality to guide international involvement in Afghan nation rebuilding.

The November 30 meeting of twenty-five prominent foreign policy, military, and international legal experts was held as part of the 'Intermediate Sovereignty' Project, which is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Participants at the meeting included the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, President Clinton’s Special Envoy to Yugoslavia, the former Deputy Legal Counsel at the United Nations, a former legal adviser to the National Security Council, a former Ambassador, the Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law and Practice, and five former members of the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Also participating were several leading academics, journalists, and experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace, the International Peace Academy, the Coalition for International Justice, the Public International Law and Policy Group, and the American Foreign Policy Council.

This report, written by Professors Michael Scharf and Paul Williams, is the product of the November 30 Meeting of Experts. The report should not be taken to reflect the view of any particular participant on the Committee, all of whom served in their individual capacity. The report is divided into the following sections: relevant facts, the U.S. interest in participating in Afghan nation rebuilding, general goals for nation rebuilding, specific objectives for nation rebuilding, and the role of the concepts of intermediate sovereignty and phased recognition in achieving these goals and objectives.