This article analyses the role that the illicit narcotics economy has played in violent conflict in Afghanistan since the 1990s and the relationship between counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency policy in the country today. It details the evolution of the peacekeeping mission vis-à-vis the narcotics economy, and the effects to date of the counter-narcotics policies that have been adopted since 2001. It argues that aggressive opium poppy eradication in Afghanistan today is premature and counterproductive with respect to counter-insurgency and stability objectives, as well as with respect to long-term economic development goals. The article concludes by providing policy recommendations on the role of peacekeeping forces with respect to illicit economies, arguing that the most important role peacekeeping forces have in tackling crime and reducing illicit economies is to provide security.
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