22 December 2011 - Around 300 representatives of civil society organizations alongside elected representatives of Provincial Council and high ranking government officials attended “One-Day Civil Society Conference” in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province.
The conference was organized under the auspices of the Provincial Council of Balkh Province with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in the northern region. The conference was aimed at encouraging the civil society to play an active role in ensuring good governance in Balkh Province.
The conference urged to improve the capacity of civil society organizations in their significant role to promote accountable governance. Among other points of action, there were: improving their relations with government institutions, donors and international community, updating the civil society organization’s database and strengthening the Civil Society Forum of Balkh Province.
“Civil society organizations are indispensable partners for United Nations efforts in Afghanistan and they are often consulted on UN policies and programmes,” Namik Heydarov, Head of UNAMA’s Mazar-e-Sharif Office, in his opening speech.
“UNAMA advocates for participation of civil society, particularly women, and victims of conflict and their families, in peace and reconciliation processes including the Government led Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP). It also stresses the need for dialogue between local populations and the peace negotiators and inclusive representation in all decision-making forums,” he added.
The conference was also addressed by the Chief of Provincial Council, Mohammad Afzal Hadid and the Provincial Deputy Governor, Mohammad Zahir Wahdat. Both speakers highlighted the importance of role of civil society organizations in monitoring good governance to avoid misuse and waste of development funds.
The conference also underpinned the importance of the sub-National Governance Policy approved by the Afghan Cabinet in March 2010. This policy, which is yet to be approved by the Afghan Parliament, necessitates adherence of local authorities to democratic governance structures, encourages public debate on issues of public interest and supports monitoring over the public affairs by the media and civil society organizations.
The policy also clarifies the role of civil society organizations and establishes a civil society forum to institutionalize cooperation among the Provincial Council, civil society organizations and provincial administration.