Countdown: London Conference on Afghanistan

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At the end of this month more than sixty countries and international organizations will gather for the London Conference on Afghanistan.

Four years ago this month another conference in London cemented the Afghanistan Compact as the way forward for Afghanistan and the international community.

The 2006 London Conference on Afghanistan had three co-chairs: Britain's then Prime Minister Tony Blair, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, and then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Conference produced the Afghanistan Compact dated 1 February 2006 and aimed at guiding development efforts in Afghanistan for the next five years until 2011.

Also known as the London Agreement, the Afghanistan Compact had the Government of Afghanistan and the international community affirming "their shared commitment to continue, in the spirit of the Bonn, Tokyo and Berlin conferences, to work toward a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, with good governance and human rights protection for all under the rule of law, and to maintain and strengthen that commitment over the term of this Compact and beyond."

The Compact would govern the second phase of Afghanistan's rise from the ruins of war, with the first phase under the Bonn Agreement of 2001 having been implemented through the adoption of Afghanistan's new Constitution in January 2004, the holding of presidential elections in October 2004, and the holding of the National Assembly and Provincial Council elections in September 2005.

The Compact participants "resolved to overcome the legacy of conflict in Afghanistan by setting conditions for sustainable economic growth and development; strengthening state institutions and civil society; removing remaining terrorist threats; meeting the challenge of counter-narcotics; rebuilding capacity and infrastructure; reducing poverty; and meeting basic human needs."

During the two-day conference, the Afghan Government presented its "Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals Country Report 2005 - Vision 2020".

Consistent with those goals, the Compact identified three "critical and interdependent areas or pillars of activity for the five years from the adoption of this Compact."

The three areas or pillars that serve as a basis for the international community's development efforts in the country from 2006 to 2011 are: Security; Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights; and Economic and Social Development.

And to coordinate and monitor the progress of joint development efforts, especially in the implementation of political commitments, the Compact provided for the establishment of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to be co-chaired by the Afghan Government and the United Nations.

The Compact said the JCMB "will ensure greater coherence of efforts by the Afghan Government and international community to implement the Compact and provide regular and timely public reports on its execution."

The next meeting of the JCMB is scheduled to take place in Kabul on 20 January 2010.

The London Compact laid out nine "principles of cooperation" for the Afghan Government and the international community as they embarked on the implementation of the Compact, "with a central and impartial coordinating role for the United Nations."

Also among the cooperation principles was ensuring the "balanced and fair allocation of domestic and international resources in order to offer all parts of the country tangible prospects of well-being."

Through the Compact, the Afghan Government committed itself to "realising this shared vision of the future" while the international community committed to "provide resources and support to realise that vision."

This year the one day London Conference at Lancaster House on 28 January will be focussing on three key agenda items: security, economic development and governance, and regional relations.

By Aurora V. Alambra, UNAMA

Read the Afghanistan Compact 2006

Website: Afghanistan - The London Conference