|dc.description.abstract||The aim of this thesis is to investigate how Dutch soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Army dealt with the distinctive Afghan culture during the mission in Uruzgan from 2006 to 2010. This thesis indicates the conflicting cultural values Dutch soldiers encountered when engaging with the local population and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Ultimately, this paper demonstrates the complexity of human rights in international relations, the accompanied moral dilemmas and the effects of modernization theory in practice.
In the first part, culture functioning as one of the obstacles to contemporary human rights is identified. Also, the cultural training of Dutch soldiers indicated that they were deemed to let go of their Western mindset: interfering in human rights abuses, committed by Afghans, was not part of the mission.
The thesis then shows the perceptions of Dutch soldiers on the local culture when they arrived in Uruzgan. On an operational level, in order to defeat the Taliban, the winning of the hearts and minds of the Afghan people was essential. Therefore, Dutch soldiers acted respectfully, despite the precarious circumstances they had to operate in. Simultaneously, reconstruction projects were based upon a Western vision of modernization, trying to eliminate the ingrained corruption and to change the Afghan mentality.
Finally, moral dilemmas experienced by Dutch soldiers are analyzed, whereas the existing gender norms in Afghanistan generated a culture shock amongst Dutch soldiers. While, Dutch soldiers empathized, to a certain extent, with the Afghan population, this stopped when being confronted by sexual abuse of boys and the oppression of women, committed, mainly, by their Afghan allies. As a result, the ANSF are identified as the lesser of two evils, in comparison to the Taliban. Moreover, the thesis stresses the deep-rooted cultural convictions within the Afghan society regarding gender, demonstrating culture functioning as an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights.
In conclusion, this thesis argues that the enforcement of human rights in Afghanistan was pushed aside by security interests of the Western forces. After the ousting of the Taliban, human rights violations continued and Dutch soldiers were not tasked to do anything about it. From a human rights perspective, this thesis questions the validity of cooperation with the lesser of two evils in future interventions.||
|dc.subject.keywords||Uruzgan, Royal Netherlands Army, Afghan National Security Forces, ANSF, bacha bazi, culture, cultural values, human rights, Afghanistan, gender, Task Force Uruzgan, sexual abuse, Taliban||