Securing Afghanistan’s Future: Peace, Self-Reliance and Connectivity
The Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United Nations, was attended by delegations from 61 countries and 35 international organizations, and representatives of civil society, the private sector and the media. H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and H.E. Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered keynote addresses. The conference was co-chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Tadamichi Yamamoto. H.E Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the National Unity Government, concluded the conference.
The National Unity Government (hereafter the government) and the international community met on 27-28 November 2018 at the United Nations in Geneva to renew their partnership and cooperation for Afghanistan’s peace, prosperity and self-reliance.
At the midpoint of Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade (2015-2024), participants noted the progress that has been made on Afghanistan’s path to self-reliance, but recognized that serious challenges including insecurity, poverty and corruption persist. These challenges require accelerating participants’ joint efforts for the remainder of the Transformation Decade. To this end, participants reaffirmed their commitment to mutual accountability and delivery of mutually agreed commitments by both government and the international community for a political, social, and economic environment enabling Afghanistan to strengthen peace, security and sustainable development. The government’s delivery of its commitments will be key for sustained international support.
Participants underlined the need to deepen regional cooperation in all spheres, including the political, security, economic and social to the benefit of the whole region.
Mutual accountability between the government and the international community guides the direction and content of reforms for achieving self-reliance. The conference reviewed the progress and reform achieved so far under the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF), and its deliverables for 2017-2018. Participants acknowledged progress in many of the reform areas and agreed that much still needs to be done, including: enhancing inclusive economic growth; reducing poverty; creating employment; fighting corruption; empowering women; and, improving governance, rule of law and human rights. In this spirit, and building on the SMAF, participants adopted the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF) with measurable reform objectives and commitments for the government and the international community for 2019-2020. The GMAF aligns deliverables with the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) and its National Priority Programs (NPPs). Participants acknowledged the need for greater emphasis on implementation of NPPs and ensuring that their benefits reach all people, particularly those living in poverty.
In the run up to the conference, Afghanistan agreed to meet six benchmarks: 1) holding transparent, fair and credible parliamentary elections; 2) advancing anti-corruption, i.e. carrying out outstanding arrest warrants; 3) reforming the security sector, in particular by completing the biometric registration of police personnel; 4) meeting IMF benchmarks; 5) furthering private sector development by enacting key legislation such as the mining law and the land allocation law; and 6) finalizing implementation plans for the NPPs. Participants acknowledged the progress made with respect to these benchmarks over the past few months. Participants expressed concern that the benchmarks on anti-corruption, and on elections with respect to its technical conduct, have not been met fully, and requested a renewed focus on these important benchmarks.
Participants agreed that peace is essential for sustainable development. Participants acknowledged that, there is a new opportunity to seek peace in particular in light of the government’s peace offer in February 2018. The government’s offer to the Taliban of talks without preconditions has enhanced regional cooperation and bolstered a national, regional, and international consensus, providing a unique opportunity for a negotiated end to the conflict. Participants emphasized that peace must be underpinned by serious efforts and reform, as well as inclusive economic and social programs. Peace must also be based on a broad political consensus involving all of society; women’s full participation in the peace process needs to be ensured. Respect for human rights and the rule of law will strengthen opportunities for sustainable peace. Peace will end the suffering of civilians and bring about opportunities for growth and prosperity. Participants further acknowledged that peace has a strong regional dimension with benefits for Afghanistan and the region, and reconfirmed that Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace processes must be supported by coordinated efforts of regional countries and the international community.
Participants welcomed the holding of the first Afghan-led parliamentary elections and secured by ANDSF in October 2018 and praised the significant number of citizens who voted despite intimidation. Participants also noted that organizational, technical and security difficulties hindered voting, and underlined the importance of addressing these and other shortcomings, including initiating legal processes if necessary, to ensure progress in electoral management. Participants called for effective preparations of presidential and other foreseen elections in 2019 to ensure maximum transparency, credibility, participation, and security.