At high-level meeting in Kabul, commitments renewed for cooperation on future of Afghanistan

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3 July 2013 – At a high-level meeting in the Afghan capital of Kabul, today, the Government of Afghanistan and international donors reaffirmed their mutual commitments to work together to help the country through its ongoing security, political and economic transitions.

“Today, we jointly reconfirm both our confidence that Afghanistan and its people supported by the international community will successfully sail through the troubled waters of the intertwined security, political and economic transitions into the stabilizing ‘Transformation Decade’ and our mutual commitment to work together supporting each-other for Afghanistan’s peaceful, stable and prosperous future,” said the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, in his remarks to the opening of the so-called Senior Officials’ Meeting.

Along with the Afghan Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Finance, Zalmai Roussol and Omar Zakhilwal, Mr. Kubiš was one of the meeting’s co-chairmen.

The gathering was a follow-up to a conference in Tokyo last year, which brought together representatives of 70 countries and international organizations to chart out future assistance for Afghanistan to meet its economic and development needs through the ongoing transitions and during the so-called Transformation Decade of 2015-2024.

The conference in the Japanese capital – which led to agreement on a “a new reinvigorated development partnership” between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community in the form of the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) – was held amidst fears within Afghanistan that international support to the country may wane after the majority of foreign combat troops leave the country in 2014.

The withdrawal of the majority of allied international military forces, with national forces assuming full responsibility for security throughout the country, coincides with a major development on the political front, namely, the holding a presidential election in early 2014.

In Tokyo, donors ended up pledging $16 billion through 2015 for the country’s economic and development needs, while Afghanistan made commitments in five main areas: representational democracy and equitable elections; governance, human rights and rule of law; integrity of public finance and commercial banking; government revenue, budget execution and sub-national governance; inclusive and sustained growth and development.

Addressing a joint news conference later today, Foreign Minister Roussol said the international community’s participation in the meeting showed “their common will for supporting Afghanistan and ensuring a bright future for the people of this country.”

“It is very important that the [international] assistance is delivered in accordance with the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and the Afghan Government’s priorities through the national budget in order to make the assistance more effective,” Finance Minister Zakhilwal told the news conference.

Addressing the same journalists, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, said the Senior Officials Meeting had led to “far deeper dialogue” between the donor community and the Afghan Government.

“Meeting today,” Mr. Bowden said, “provided a strong forward framework and commitments to take TMAF forward, and to focus on particular areas so that we can move into the transformation decade smoothly and maintain Afghanistan’s progress towards sustainable development.”

A joint statement issued after the Kabul meeting said the participants encouraged the Afghan Government and the international community to continue efforts to meet commitments under TMAF to help improve the lives of the Afghan people and advance good governance, economic growth, peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“The participants stressed that sustained international support in the years ahead requires resolute action by both the international community and the Afghan Government, particularly in the coming months, to address areas of TMAF where further progress is required,” the 17-point joint statement noted.

In his remarks, Mr. Kubiš called for further progress, particularly in preparing for next year’s presidential election scheduled for 5 April, and in respect for human rights – including the full implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law.

The UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden (right), told a news conference that the Senior Officials Meeting has led to “far deeper dialogue” between the donor community and the government.

He encouraged the Afghan Government to take the measures necessary to maintain the independence of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and cited the importance of a “more vigorous, profound and systematic government-wide approach for fighting corruption,” noting that anti-corruption efforts have a critical impact on levels of donor confidence and private sector investment, in addition to serving the Afghan public.

Based on the lessons of the past decade, the UN Special Representative said that the UN will adjust to new conditions and requirements in the country, “to increase its effectiveness, relevance, improve value for money delivery, work increasingly as ‘One UN.’”

Mr. Kubiš also noted the importance of the upcoming presidential election – as well as provincial and parliamentary elections in 2015 – and emphasized the need to pass two electoral laws that are expected to create a strong legal foundation for future Afghan elections.

The next meeting to follow up on the Tokyo commitments is expected to take place in London soon after next year’s presidential elections.