The JCMB was pleased to see increased overall commitment to addressing Afghanistan's most urgent needs. The ceiling for the number of Afghanistan National Police officers has been temporarily increased to 82,000, and improved coordination on energy issues is beginning to show positive results. Political commitment has remained firm, and the Government and its partners have made progress in developing the sectoral strategies needed for attaining Compact benchmarks, and for finalizing the Afghan National Development Strategy by mid-2008.
"Last year was successful, a problem-solving mechanism for Compact implementation and monitoring was established, and significant progress has been made in key sectors. However, there have been some unexpected challenges from insecurity in the south and south east of the country," said Professor Ishaq Nadiri, JCMB co-chair and senior economic adviser to President Karzai. "We are glad that there is progress to report, but we must focus more energy on implementation to ensure that this progress soon becomes more evident on the ground."
Among short-life benchmarks a senior appointments board has been established; ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption is being reviewed by parliament; the National Assembly has become fully functional; a review and reform of public oversight to curb corruption has been started; the Government has prepared a draft land policy; the Government is discussing with donors how to establish a framework for investment in natural resources exploitation; a strategic policy framework for water resource management has been approved; a human resource study is on track for completion in July 2007; four important laws dealing with investment and the private sector have come into effect, and four more laws are being finalized; and an extension of six months has been given to complete the liquidation of non-licensed state owned banks.
With longer-term benchmarks, gross enrollment in schools has increased by an estimated 12 percent to 5.4 million students, 35 percent of them girls; 82 percent of Afghans now have access to basic health services; 6,121 Community Development Councils have been established in the past year; 84 percent of the ring road network is open with 59 percent (1,983 km) paved; 132 million square meters of land has been cleared of mines since March 2006; the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has conducted over 700 educational and public awareness events; a national emergency operations centre is functioning and a disaster management plan is under preparation; and domestic revenues exceeded the revenue target with a 21.6 percent increase in 2006 (1385) over 2005 (1384).
"More roads have been built, troop sizes are up, and in most areas forwards momentum is being maintained," said Tom Koenigs, JCMB co-chair and special representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan. "But let's be sure our view of progress is one that is shared by the Afghan people. A road, for example, is not going to be appreciated if there is no transport on it, nor if poor funding means it's not going to be maintained."
Recommendations for strengthening the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups programme will meanwhile be presented to the next JCMB meeting. Within the next five months the electoral cycle will need to be simplified, and by October 2007 the Government is required to draft a national anti-corruption strategy. The JCMB also called for Government efforts to implement the work plan on transitional justice, launched on December 10th last year.
A full annual report of the JCMB will be published on the www.ands.gov.af website shortly.
Background: The Afghanistan Compact and JCMB
The Afghanistan Compact was presented at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2006 and succeeds the Bonn Agreement. It lays out a framework for international engagement with Afghanistan until March 2011 through a series of benchmarks for consolidating peace, strengthening institutional and human capacities, and pursuing political, economic, and social development.
The JCMB is the central coordination mechanism between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community. Its job is to resolve strategic issues and ensure high-level political support for the Compact's implementation. It is cochaired on the Afghan side by Professor Ishaq Nadiri, senior economic adviser to President Karzai, and on the international side by Tom Koenigs, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan. This week's JCMB meeting was the fifth quarterly session so far and followed the Afghan Development Forum on April 29th and 30th.
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