Paper: Confluence of authoritarian and illiberal practices in Afghanistan

Paper details

Paper authors Andrew Cunningham
In panel on Cultural and gendered contexts of the ethics of humanitarian negotiations
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


As part of an MSF research project on state relations, a mini-case study on the current state of the relations between MSF and the Taliban was conducted in light of the ban on women working for aid organisations (which does not affect MSF as yet). Through the research an argument was put forward that one of the reasons so much attention has been placed on the ban within the international aid community is that there is a unique confluence between authoritarian and illiberal practices. In other words, aid organisations are feeling the brunt of authoritarian practices (as is so often is the case), but concurrently also directly feeling the brunt of illiberal practices, i.e., human rights abuses, as their staff members are, en masse, being targeted by the state. This obviously creates a difficult moral environment for aid organisations and forces upon them a set of ethical dilemmas, not the least of which is the issue of complicity if they choose to stay. The paper grounds these findings in the literature on the role gender plays in humanitarian negotiations.