Afghanistan

ACBAR Newsletter September-2014

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Transforming Development Beyond Transition in Afghanistan: Governance

This paper is one of a series highlighting civil society actors’ concerns in the lead up to the 2014 London Conference on the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF). Other papers in the series focus on aid effectiveness, service delivery and women’s rights. After discussing progress since 2012 and the remaining challenges, this paper will outline policy recommendations.

Progress has continued at community level, particularly through community development councils (CDCs), district development associations (DDAs), implementing the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). NGOs have used social auditing at the end of NSP projects to ensure more accountability. In 2013, 63 per cent of Afghans responded that they were satisfied with their CDCs.1 Many of these bodies have been successful in increasing local ownership and good governance, resulting in more transparency and accountability. More women are also now involved in local governance and government is becoming more responsive to their needs.

The NSP has achieved widespread involvement of women in community decision-making where they can raise their development priorities.

The paper also highlights challenges, mostly on the following topics:
· Sub-national governance.
· Serious gaps remaining.
· Corruption undermines good governance.
· Fragile and non-inclusive justice system.
· Ineffective and unequal natural resource governance.

ACBAR recommends to principal actors :

-The Afghan government should clarify the structure, roles, responsibilities and reporting lines of all layers of sub-national governance bodies, particularly from the district level and below, and between elected and appointed offices. It should prioritize developing a work-plan on how to strengthen these bodies and communicate it to existing sub-national stakeholders. It should design mechanisms that enable sub-national governance entities to be consulted and their feedback absorbed into national budgetary and planning processes, so that existing bottom-up and top-down planning processes are more coherent and joined-up. It should support the third pilot of a draft provincial budget policy, which could contribute to driving a longer-term decentralized fiscal policy

  • The Afghan government and the international community must review and ensure that commissioners within the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) are appointed based on merit through a transparent process including consultation with civil society. International community should keep supporting the AIHRC and International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) and ensure that the Paris Principles governing national human rights institutions are adhered to. Donors should demonstrate a commitment to human rights by taking action, as envisaged in the conditionality agreement to hold the government to their TMAF commitments on the AIHRC.

  • The Afghan government should use the conference to set out a road map to create a system for oversight and control of natural resources which ‘builds on and surpasses international best practices,’ in line with their commitments at the Tokyo summit., including publishing mining and oil contracts, the beneficial ownership of contract-holders, and project-level payment and production data; transparent, open and fair bidding and contracting; respect the rights and interests of local communities, and mechanisms for consultation and dispute resolution. The IC must do its part to help the government set up effective oversight mechanisms. Donors could also link additional funding to implementation of effective governance and an increase in control over mining revenues.