Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit

A to Z Glossary


Afghan Development Association (ADA)

The Afghan Development Association (ADA) is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organisation

whose mission is to eradicate poverty from Afghanistan. ADA was originally founded in Pakistan

in 1990, where it worked mainly in Afghan refugee camps. With its current headquarters in

Kabul, ADA’s 839 staff operate in Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Day Kundi, Farah, Logar, Wardak,

Ghazni, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kabul, Kapisa, Panjshir, Faryab, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar and


ADA implements multi-sectoral rehabilitation and development projects aiming to support and

empower vulnerable and marginalised groups. Particular attention is given to the agricultural

sector and rural activities that can contribute to more productive and sustainable livelihoods at

the grassroots level. Community participation is the integral part of ADA’s project planning and


As per its five-year strategic plan, ADA is organised into five departments: Planning, Capacity-

Building, Education, Integrated Rural Development (IRD), and Finance. Each department is headed

by a director and is supported by line staff, resources and facilities. In 2010, the Emergency

Facilitation Pilot Programme became the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit, which has since expanded

into each of the ADA project areas.

Click on the links below to jump to the relevant entry:

Afghan Development Association (ADA)

Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO)

Afghan Local Police (ALP)

Afghan National Army (ANA)

Afghan National Police (ANP)

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)

Afghan NGOs Coordination Bureau (ANCB)

Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA)

Afghan Women's Network

Afghanistan Centre At Kabul University (ACKU)

Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo)

Afghanistan Compact

Afghanistan Country Stability Picture (ACSP)

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA)

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP)

Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO)

Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP)

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP)

Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (ASOP)

Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR)

Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS)

Berlin Meeting and Declarations

Bonn Agreement

Bonn Conference 2011

Calendars in Afghanistan

Central Statistics Organization (CSO)

Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN)

Clusters and National Priority Programs (NPPs)

Coalition Forces (CF)

Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP)

Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ)

Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)

Counter-Narcotics (CN)

Development Assistance Database (DAD)

Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ)

European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL)

Government and Media Information Centre (GMIC)

Hague Conference on Afghanistan

High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC)

Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARSC)

Independent Commission for the Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC)

Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

Istanbul Regional Conference

Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB)

Justice Sector Reform (JSR)

Kabul Conference and Process

Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA)

Laws in Afghanistan

London Conference 2006

London Conference 2010

Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA)

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA)

Mineral Resources

National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP)

National Budget

National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ)

National Development Framework (NDF)

National Human Development Report (NHDR)

National Solidarity Programme

NGO Legislation and Code of Conduct

Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat (OAA/CMS)

Paris Conference

Policy Analysis and Development Directorate (PADD)

Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)

Provincial Development Plan (PDP) and Provincial Strategic Planning

Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

Public Administration Reform (PAR)

Regional Cooperation

Security Sector Reform (SSR)

South and Western Afghanistan and Balochistan Association for Coordination (SWABAC)

Tokyo Meetings


United Nations in Afghanistan

Water Resources




Afghan Development Association (ADA)

The Afghan Development Association (ADA) is a nongovernmental and non-profit organisation whose mission is to eradicate poverty from Afghanistan. ADA was originally founded in Pakistan in 1990, where it worked mainly in Afghan refugee camps. With its current headquarters in Kabul, ADA’s 564 staff operate in Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Farah, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Panjshir, Faryab, Jawzjan, Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar.

ADA implements multi-sectoral rehabilitation and development projects aiming to support and empower vulnerable and marginalised groups. Particular attention is given to the agricultural sector and rural activities that can contribute to more productive and sustainable livelihoods at the grassroots level. Community participation is an integral part of ADA’s project planning and implementation.

As per its current five-year strategic plan, ADA is organised into five departments: Planning, Capacity Building, Education, Integrated Rural Development (IRD), and Finance. Each department is headed by a director and is supported by line staff, resources and facilities. ADA also operates a Disaster Risk Reduction Unit, which has expanded into each of the ADA project areas. ADA will update its five-year plan in 2012, putting an increased emphasis on capacity building and institutional development of project beneficiaries.

Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO) 

The Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO) is the government agency responsible for all official mapping and related activities in Afghanistan. Its focus of work is the production, publication and distribution of physical, topographical, political, thematic, cadastral and natural resources maps; geodetic affairs; and the national atlas. Reporting directly to the President, AGCHO has approximately 700 staff and regional offices in 16 provinces. The office is divided into five departments: metadata and client service provision, cartography and GIS, cadastre, photogrammetry and remote sensing, and geodesy. Prior to its establishment as an independent agency in 1958, all mapping was done by the military.

Until the Soviet Invasion in 1979, AGCHO had completed 26 percent of the geodetic triangulation of Afghanistan and 30 percent of the cadastral surveys necessary to cover the country. Since 2001 there have been renewed efforts to modernise the agency; AGCHO has produced a number of thematic maps for government departments and external organisations and now also provides GIS training. It also established departments of Geography and GIS at Kabul University and Kabul Polytechnic University. In 2011, AGCHO published several new maps, including a 1:18,000 digital imagery street map of Kabul, produced in association with GISWorking Kabul. In cooperation with the German government, AGCHO is aiming to publish a national atlas containing over 50 maps in June 2012.

AGCHO provides its services to government ministries and to international organisations, which in some cases require specific supporting documentation. By law, all maps that are printed in Afghanistan should be approved by AGCHO.

Afghan Local Police (ALP)

The Afghan Local Police (ALP) is the latest iteration of several previous programmes designed to find a local solution to security. Prior to the establishment of the ALP by presidential decree in August 2010, the Afghan government and its international backers had experimented with various local and non-official security programmes.

In 2006 the Afghan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP) was launched by the US military and the Ministry of Interior, only to be halted in 2009 over concerns about arming groups with only  tenuous loyalty to the government. However, 2009 also saw a rapid increase in the use of local forces to provide security. In July 2009, the government created Community Defence Forces  (CDF) to provide security during the elections in areas with limited Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) presence (although the locations chosen to receive CDF funding led to accusations that political agendas were determining their use). In the same year, the Afghan Public Protection Programme (AP3) was launched in Wardak Province, nominally under the control of the Ministry of Interior but largely directed by US Special Forces. Meanwhile in July 2009 US Combined Forces Special Operations Command Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A) created the Community Defence Initiative (CDI), which was soon renamed the Local Defence Initiative (LDI). These programmes sought to provide local communities with the means to defend themselves from anti-government groups. By 2010, CDI/LDI had fallen under the umbrella of Village Stability Operations (VSO), overseen by the US Department of Defense. Following August 2010, CDI/LDI groups were subsumed into the ALP.

The ALP programme had been due to run until 2015, although that date now looks likely to be extended. Districts selected to take part in the programme nominate around 300 men to receive uniforms, AK47s and training from US Special Forces. In theory, recruits must all be vetted and approved by district-level shuras (councils) and Afghan domestic intelligence. The shuras responsible for vetting recruits are those created by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance’s Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (IDLG, ASOP). There is also a strict limit on ALP members’ powers—they cannot make arrests, patrol outside their districts or possess heavy weaponry, and they are in theory under the control of the local police chief. There are widespread concerns that community-based self-defence initiatives are vulnerable to usurpation by local powerholders with little loyalty to the government, possibly leading to inter-ethnic or factional tensions. It has also been suggested that these groups could undermine state authority and the progress made in disarmament. The September 2011 Human Rights Watch report entitled “Just Don’t Call it a Militia: Impunity, Militias, and the Afghan Local Police” detailed many of these accusations.

Despite these concerns, community-based defence remains a key part of the Transition process of handing security responsibility to Afghans. Currently numbering around  10,000, ALP strength is projected to grow to around 30,000. The ALP programme is largely funded by the US Department of Defense.


Afghan National Army (ANA)

The Afghan National Army (ANA) was created on 1 December 2002 under a decree issued by President Hamid Karzai. Serving under Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence, the ANA makes up one part of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the other part of which is the Afghan  National Police (ANP). Conceived as an all-volunteer force inclusive of Afghans of all social and ethnic origins, the ANA was originally to be capped at an end-strength of 70,000 service members.

When established in 2003, the ANA was adopted by the Bonn Agreement as one of the five pillars of the Afghan government’s Security Sector Reform strategy (SSR). The roles of the ANA are: 1) to secure the borders and deter external threats; 2) to defeat terrorist forces; 3) to disband, reintegrate or imprison illegal armed groups; and 4) to manage internal security threats and emergencies in cooperation with the ANP.

In January 2010, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) approved the lifting of the troop ceiling from 134,000 (consisting of 122,000 operational troops and 12,000 soldiers-intraining) to a new level of 171,000 by October 2011. In June 2011 the JCMB raised the approved figure to 195,000; plans for a further increase to 240,000 now seem likely to be dropped. As of December 2011, the ANA’s reported personnel strength stood at approximately 180,000 troops; of these, approximately two-thirds were combat forces and three percent were air corps. The ANA is divided into six corps, ranging in size from 12,000 to 18,000 troops; the Kabul-headquartered Capital Division responsible for the security of the capital and the seat of government, numbering around 9,000 troops; a Special Operations Force Division of 8,800 troops; and an air corps providing essential airlift support to ANA brigades. More brigades may be added under the revised plan. Continuing to build the ANA is central to US strategy and the implementation of Transition in Afghanistan, in which the ANA will take over responsibility for internal security from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in several stages.

The ANA is a conventionally structured and light infantry-based force. It is designed primarily to combat insurgents but lacks overall capability in terms of defending Afghanistan’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Its six ground-manoeuvre corps are distributed as regional commands in Kabul, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Lashkar Gah. The personnel charts of ANA battalions, or kandaks, consist of 650 soldiers, sergeants and officers. Mostly equipped with refurbished Soviet Union-era aircraft, the Afghan National Air Corps is being  trained to perform a range of missions including presidential airlift, medical and casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and airborne command and control, and light air attack. As of January 2012, the Afghan National Air Corps had 76 aircraft, including 50 helicopters.To ensure geographic and ethnic diversity, the ANA has recruitment centres in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Around 6,000 new recruits join the ANA every month. Recruits complete 12-week training courses at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC). All trainers  are Afghan, supported by military trainers from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other countries. On graduation from the KMTC, ANA soldiers undergo an additional six weeks of training and equipping (joining their fellow unit officers and non-commissioned officers) before being deployed to their respective corps. Additionally, in 2009 the first-ever class of ANA  officers graduated from the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, which was established in 2004.

ANA personnel sign three-year contracts, which can be voluntarily renewed. The maximum length of service is 25 years. In spite of these formal contractual mechanisms, desertion continues to be a serious problem in the ANA. Over the last two years, the attrition rate has averaged 2.65 percent a month.

US training teams are embedded in most ANA units, ranging from kandaks to corps. Through its Operational Mentor and Liaison Team Programme, ISAF similarly embeds mentors in selected ANA units. The United States is the key partner in training and equipping the ANA, providing the majority of the required technical and financial support. It has committed to spending $17 billion on training and equipping the army from 2008 to 2013. Following that date the United States will reduce funding to $3 billion annually. Other donor nations are expected to contribute a combined total of $1 billion. This has led to concerns over the fiscal sustainability of maintaining the ANA at its present size.

The current aim of the Afghan government is to assume full security responsibility throughout Afghanistan by end-2014, as part of the Transition process.

Afghan National Police (ANP)

The Afghan National Police (ANP) is the Afghan government’s overarching police institution; it operates under the authority of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The ANP’s roles span a wide  spectrum of security activities including law enforcement, maintenance of order, criminal investigation, border security, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism. As of 31 December 2011, the ANP reportedly had a total strength of 138,121, made up of the following forces:

  • National Police, or Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP)—responsible for most day-to-day policeactivities and assigned to police districts as well as Provincial and Regional Commands; eachof the six regions ultimately reports to the Deputy Minister of Security; strength of 80,275.

  • Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP)—a highly trained and specially equipped quickreactionforce aimed at dealing with “advanced police situations,” such as civil disorder,looting, hostage-taking and riots; strength of 13,678.

  • Afghan Border Police (ABP)—engaged in law enforcement at international borders and thecountry’s other points of entry; strength of 23,086, structured into six zones (West, Southwest,South, East, North, North-east).

  • Other units–including personnel assigned to the MoI, the Criminal Investigation Division, theCounter Narcotics Police (with a strength of approximately 2,500), and training, intelligenceand fire department units; combined strength of 21,082.

  • In addition, 7,840 recruits were undergoing training.

The Afghan government has experimented with several local defence programmes, seeking toaugment the ANP by finding non-official, community based security solutions. The most recentiteration of these is the Afghan Local Police (ALP).

The 2006 Afghanistan Compact  established as a benchmark for 2010 a fully constituted, professional, functional, and ethnically balanced ANP force of up to 62,000 members. In April 2007, in response to increased insurgency in southern Afghanistan, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) raised this number to 82,000. The authorised size of the ANP was again increased to 96,800 in the run-up to the 2009 elections. In January 2010, the JCMB approved a further increase to 109,000 by October 2010 and to 134,000 by October 2011. In June 2011 this was again revised upwards to 157,000. Some donors have raised concerns about the fiscal sustainability of increasing the size of the ANP; others are concerned that the focus of police reform is shifting from the establishment of a civilian police force to that of a paramilitary or counterinsurgency force.

Reform of the police sector, one of the five pillars of the Afghan government’s Security Sector Reform strategy (SSR), has focused primarily on training and mentoring, provision of equipment and infrastructure, and institutional restructuring such as pay and rank reform. The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) has primary responsibility for coordinating donor support for ANP salaries. The police sector in Afghanistan has been supported by approximately 25 donor countries, with Germany taking the coordinating role of “key partner” until 2007. In June 2007, the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) subsumed Germany’s primary role in police reform with the aim of consolidating different approaches among EU members; the mission was originally mandated until June 2010. In May 2010, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of the mission until 31 May 2013.

The United States has been by far the largest overall contributor of human and financial resources to support the police sector. Since 2005, the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A, see Coalition Forces) has led police reform efforts by the US, along with the training and development of the ANA. CSTC-A has several thousand personnel and contractors dedicated to its ANP mission.

Approaches to police reform varied widely among donors and efforts to consolidate and integrate these approaches were slow to emerge. In early 2007, donors and the Afghan government established the International Police Coordination Board (IPCB) aimed at consolidating and integrating international police reform efforts and enhancing Afghan ownership of the reforms. By late 2007, the IPCB Secretariat was operational, its members meeting regularly and engaging with CSTC-A, EUPOL and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In June 2009, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) was established to train the ANP. NTM-A cooperates with CSTC-A in a single headquarters.

The main laws governing the ANP are the 2005 Police Law and the 2004 Interim Criminal Procedure Code. These laws are based on Articles 56, 75 (3) and 134 of the Constitution. The chain of command is: 1) Minister of Interior, 2) Deputy Minister for Security Affairs, 3) Regional Commanders, 4) Provincial Chiefs of Police, and 5) District Chiefs of Police. There are currently six ANP regions (Kabul Province, North, East, South, West and Central).In principle, a commissioned ANP officer (saran) requires a 12th-grade education and three years of training at the Kabul Police Academy (KPA). A non-commissioned officer or sergeant (satanman) is required to complete 9th grade and a nine-month course at KPA. Patrolmen (satunkai) complete training courses at either the Central Training Centre in Kabul or one of the Regional Training Centres in Bamiyan, Gardez, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) consist of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.  

Afghan NGOs Coordination Bureau (ANCB)

The Afghan NGOs Coordination Bureau (ANCB) was founded in 1991 and aims to coordinate the activities of Afghan NGOs with the Afghan government, the UN, international organisations, and donor agencies.

ANCB membership is restricted to Afghan NGOs, with 190 current members. Applications for ANCB membership are considered by the Board of Directors and subsequently voted on at the General Assembly (the quarterly meeting of member organisations). ANCB’s 11-member Board of Directors is elected for a period of one year by the General Assembly. ANCB’s headquarters is located in Kabul and it has satellite offices in Nangarhar and Wardak provinces. It convenes monthly member meetings on topics such as health, education, agriculture, sanitation, reconstruction and government policy. It also arranges seminars and training courses aimed at building the technical capacity of member NGOs in needs assessment, management, finance, administrative development, human rights, democracy, legal awareness and report and proposal writing. ANCB provides internet facilities for its members in the ANCB office and produces a weekly newsletter, the quarterly magazine Paiwastoon (Coordination), and a directory of all its members.

ANCB is a member of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, the World Civil Society Forum, and the Affinity Group of National Associations. It is also actively involved in the Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo). The bulk of ANCB funding comes from membership fees.

Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA)

The Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA) was a governing body established by the Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ) in June 2002. It was preceded by the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), a temporary governing body created at the Bonn Conference. The head of the ATA was President Hamid Karzai, previously the Chairman of the AIA, who was elected in a secret ballot by members of the ELJ. 

Under the ATA, in January 2004, the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ) decided on a constitution for the new Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As per the 2004 Constitution, the ATA was due to stay in power until a fully representative government could be elected through free and fair elections. In October 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected as President; at his inauguration in December 2004, the ATA was transformed into the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, despite the rescheduling of National Assembly elections until September 2005. 

Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) 

The Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) is a network of NGOs in Afghanistan working to empower Afghan women and achieve their equal participation in society. AWN also regards the empowerment and protection of children as fundamental to its work. The network seeks to enhance the effectiveness of its members by fostering partnerships and collaboration between them, undertaking advocacy and lobbying, and building their individual capacities. AWN was founded in 1995 following the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and is now the largest national women’s rights organisation in Afghanistan, representing 88 member organisations and over 5,000 individual members.

In 2011, AWN worked with UN Women and the Canada Fund to support ten women delegates to participate in side events at the Bonn Conference and develop a response to the Conference communiqué. AWN also organised roundtable discussions to facilitate a process of information sharing that will enable Afghan civil society and women’s groups in particular to formulate educated positions and advocacy issues on the ongoing peace and Transition processes. These discussions were an opportunity for men and women from civil society to have the chance to discuss the substance of the policies that were shaping the agenda of the Bonn 2011 conference and the future of the Afghan state beyond 2014.

AWN continues to publish the monthly Ertiqa magazine. It maintains a library and internet cafe for use by women’s NGOs, and AWN’s website allows member organisations to submit activity reports and access training and other resources online. The Network’s General Assembly, comprised of AWN members, meets each year in order to elect an Executive Committee to serve as their principal decision-making body. An Advisory Committee assists with strategic planning, coordinates with international NGOs, supports fundraising efforts, and advises the Executive Committee. Based in Kabul, the Secretariat (or Head Office) is answerable to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the implementation of the programmes and campaigns endorsed by the Board of Directors. AWN’s regional offices operate in Jalalabad and Herat and manage projects in neighbouring provinces. In addition to the Jalalabad and Herat offices, a liaison office operates in Peshawar, Pakistan, providing logistic and general support to Afghan refugees.

Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU)

The Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) is a nonprofit organisation that collects and makes available resources to contribute to an understanding of the social, economic, political and cultural dynamics of Afghan society in the past, present and future. With more than 22,000 catalogued items (and a total of 60,000 volumes), it provides the most comprehensive collection of materials related to Afghanistan in the region. Formerly the ACBAR Resource and Information Centre (see ACBAR), ACKU was established independently at Kabul University in September 2005.


The collections—in Dari, Pashto, English and other languages—are largely generated by the Afghan government, UN agencies, NGOs, and international scholars and observers. They contain practical works on health and agriculture, political analyses, women’s rights and recent laws, rare mujahiddin and Taliban publications, issues of cultural heritage, and many works of Afghan art and literature. ACKU also obtains national statistics and holds bodies of research conducted before the conflict era including agricultural surveys, folk music, oral folklore and histories. Many of these documents are being digitised to ensure distribution beyond Kabul to provincial universities and public libraries (to date 640,000 pages have been digitised). The ACKU reading room provides students, faculty and visitors with computers connected to the internet and the ACKU database. The audiovisual section contains current news reports and various films on NGO programmes, events in Afghanistan’s recent history, and ethnographic and cultural films. The ACKU stacks and reading room are located in the central library of Kabul University. A new, $2 million facility is under construction on the university campus, funded by the Afghan government. Completion is projected for 2012.

ACKU also operates the ACKU Box Library Extension (ABLE), designed to provide libraries for provincial communities, high schools and councils. Managed by local community custodians (including teachers, NGO staff, shopkeepers and mullahs), the box libraries (small, shelved containers on wheels) hold a wide variety of titles on a range of topics including history, the environment, home management, good health practices, the use of computers, and dictionaries. ABLE, which supplies libraries in 31 of the 34 provinces, also publishes its own easy-to-read books for new literates, on subjects including mother-child care, agriculture, animal welfare and Islam. To date, ABLE has published more than 235 titles in both Dari and Pashto and provided 200,000 books to 196 schools, community centres and Provincial Council libraries.

Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo)

The Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organisation (ACSFo—formerly ACSF) is a network of Afghan civil society groups and actors. It provides a platform for dialogue and aims to develop the role of civil society in political decision-making. ACSFo was established in partnership between Afghan civil society actors and “Swisspeace” (a Swiss private foundation for the promotion of peace) at the request of 76 participants at the first Afghan Civil Society Conference in Bad Honnef, Germany in 2001. ACSFo was initially supported by Swisspeace Foundation and has been completely independent since January 2006. ACSFo has 130 members, including 80 organisations and 50 individuals. It also has 320 partners for capacity building, civic education, advocacy, research and media. ACSFo’s Board of Directors has nine representatives, each elected for two-year terms at the annual general meeting of ACSFo members.

From 2002-06, ACSFo supported the implementation of the Bonn Agreement; conducted educational, media and advocacy activities on the constitution-making process; and carried out civic education and registration campaigns for the 2004 presidential and 2005 parliamentary elections. Post-2005, ACSFo modified its approach, moving away from public outreach toward the support of institution-building. The organisation’s strategy focuses on: coordination and networking, capacity building, advocacy, civic education, and research. In 2010, good governance, rule of law, transparency and accountability, participation, and development became additional areas of focus.

ACSFo maintains a Civil Society Resource Centre and in 2012 plans to establish similar centres in its regional offices (Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Bamiyan and Gardez). ACSFo also publishes the Jamea-i-Madani magazine (in Dari and Pashto) and a monthly newsletter (in English, Dari and Pashto). ACSFo receives funding from a wide range of international NGOS, agencies and donor governments.

Afghanistan Compact 

The Afghanistan Compact was launched together with the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) at the January 2006 London Conference. It was a five-year framework for cooperation among the Afghan government, the UN and donors, and was developed through consultation among these actors. The Compact officially expired in February 2011.The Compact—endorsed by UN Security Council Resolutions 1659, 1662 and 1746—reaffirmed the commitment of the Afghan government and the international community to work toward a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, with good governance and human rights protection for all under the rule of law. It stated:

The Afghan Government hereby commits itself to realising this shared vision of the future; the international community, in turn, commits itself to provide resources and support to realise that vision.

The Compact established a mechanism for coordinating Afghan and international development and reconstruction efforts and followed the Bonn Agreement, which formally ended with the holding of legislative and Provincial Council elections in September 2005. Consistent with the I-ANDS and the goals articulated by the Afghan government in its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Country Report 2005 (“Vision 2020”), the Compact identified three critical and interdependent areas of activity, or “pillars”: 1) Security; 2) Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights; and 3) Economic and Social Development. A further vital and cross-cutting area of work highlighted in the Compact was eliminating the narcotics industry.

Annex I of the Compact set out detailed outcomes, benchmarks and timelines for delivery, consistent with the high-level goals set by the I-ANDS. Annex II set forth the commitment of the Afghan government and the international community to improve the effectiveness and accountability of international assistance. These actors also established the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) to oversee and provide regular public reports on the execution of the Compact and the ANDS.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was established under Article 58 of the Afghan Constitution, which reads:

The State, for the purpose of monitoring the observation of human rights in Afghanistan, and their promotion and protection, shall establish the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan. Everyone in case of violation of his/her human rights can report or complain to this Commission. The Commission can refer the cases of violation of the human rights of the persons to the legal authorities, and assist them in defending their rights. Structure and mode of function of this Commission will be regulated by law.

The Law on the Structure, Duties and Mandate of the AIHRC was adopted by the Cabinet and endorsed by the President in May 2005. Under the Law (Article 4), the AIHRC is mandated to protect and promote rights and freedoms enshrined in the Afghan Constitution and international human rights instruments to which Afghanistan is a party. Article 6 of the Law requires the Afghan government, civil society organisations (CSOs), nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and all Afghan citizens to “cooperate with the Commission in achieving the objectives set up by this Law.”


The AIHRC is led by nine Commissioners who are appointed by the President with service terms of five years. As of December 2011, the AIHRC is chaired is Dr Sima Samar, with Mr Ahmad Fahim Hakim the deputy chair. The President is required to appoint Commissioners who reflect the gender, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity of Afghanistan, and who represent academic institutions and CSOs. In December 2011, President Karzai removed three commissioners whoseterms had expired. Some argued that this was in line with normal process and a way to bring fresh faces into the commission; however, the decision to remove individuals who had been particularly vocal government critics was seen by others as a politicised attempt to make AIHRC more docile.


AIHRC adopted its current Four-Year Strategic and Action Plans 1389-1392 (2010-2013) after an extensive consultation exercise with stakeholders across the country. The plans are implemented by the AIHRC’s Secretariat, led by Mr Mohammad Musa Mahmodi, the Executive Director. As part of these plans, the AIHRC’s five strategic objectives are leadership, education, empowerment, advocacy, and monitoring and investigation. To ensure nationwide coverage of services, the AIHRC has eight regional offices (Herat, Kandahar, Paktia, Bamiyan, Nangarhar, Kabul, Kunduz, and Balkh) and six provincial offices (Ghor, Day Kundi, Helmand, Uruzgan, Faryab, and Badakhshan), with more than 600 employees.

Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA)

The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) was established as a “one stop shop for investors” by the Afghan government in 2003 and is responsible for the registration, licensing and promotion of all new investments in Afghanistan. Headquartered in Kabul, AISA has regional offices in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Khost and Jalalabad.

AISA describes itself as a proactive institution that promotes and attracts investment to Afghanistan, and has a number of departments dedicated to investor support. Services include individual client investment support, organising domestic and foreign conferences and exhibitions, and providing opportunities for “matchmaking” between companies and investors.

AISA publishes an Investor Directory; the latest edition was published in 2010 and provides a listing of approximately 7,500 foreign and local companies active in Afghanistan. AISA plans to publish the next edition in the first quarter of 2012. AISA has also created a new online Investor Directory (accessed from the web address above), allowing potential investors to search for businesses by name or license number in both Dari and English. Access to this information helps registered companies to market their businesses and eases communication between companies, customers and other interested parties.

AISA also has a Research and Policy Department which analyses private sector development issues, develops private sector strategies, completes sector-specific studies on business and investment opportunities, and engages in hands-on sector policy advocacy before the National Assembly and Afghan government agencies. Also within AISA’s remit is the Industrial Parks Development Department, which is currently responsible for managing USAID-funded industrial parks in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. A further three business parks are under construction in Kabul, Nangarhar and Helmand.

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS)

The Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) is the central framework for Afghanistan’s development, aiming to promote pro-poor growth, support the development of democratic processes and institutions, and reduce poverty and vulnerability. It also serves as the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), a key document used by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in assessing a country’s eligibility for debt relief. The development of the ANDS was first proposed at the 2005 Afghanistan Development Forum. The final ANDS was approved by President Hamid Karzai on 21 April 2008 and subsequently presented at the Paris Conference in June 2008 to gain support from the international community for its implementation.

The ANDS articulates both a policy framework and a road map for implementation. Together with the Afghanistan Compact, the ANDS is meant to provide a path to achieving Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2020.

The precursor to the final ANDS was the Interim ANDS (I-ANDS), which was approved by the Afghan government in December 2005 and presented with the Afghanistan Compact at the January 2006 London Conference. In 2006, the Government and its international partners began to implement the I-ANDS and to develop it into a full strategy to meet the requirements of a PRSP. The I-ANDS covered the period 2006-10 and was linked intrinsically to the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact; every Compact benchmark was reflected as a five-year strategic objective in the interim strategy.

The preparation of the full ANDS was coordinated by the ANDS Secretariat and supervised by the ANDS Oversight Committee (OSC), comprising seven cabinet ministers. The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB, p. 47), the high-level governing body overseeing the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, also provided guidance for preparation of the ANDS.

The sector strategies, completed by the end of 2007, were drafted by Sector Strategy Development Groups (SSDGs) comprising representatives from sector ministries, the ANDS Secretariat, the Ministry of Finance, and the cross-cutting themes.

The first step in the ANDS development process was the preparation of 43 individual strategies by all government ministries and agencies, following a template provided by the ANDS Secretariat. After their completion in mid-2007, these were then vetted and strengthened and their strategic priorities and funding allocations aligned by means of extensive consultation. Through Consultative Groups (CGs), donor dialogue meetings, and poverty analysis based on National Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (Central Statistics Organization, p. 28), these ministry and agency strategies were reviewed and improved before being merged into draft sector strategies.

A subnational consultation process was organised in all 34 provinces in 2007; aimed at ensuring the final ANDS reflected a broad consensus on development priorities within Afghan society, it resulted in individual Provincial Development Plans (PDP). After the sector strategies were finalised, the ANDS Oversight Committee prioritised them using approved criteria, including implementation resources available for the five years that followed (as identified by the ANDS Macroeconomic Framework). In cooperation with the line ministries, the ANDS Secretariat then combined the sector strategies into the draft ANDS. The final ANDS was reviewed by the CGs and sent for approval to the ANDS OSC, ensuring that the strategy as a whole was in line with government priorities and the benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact.

With the finalisation of the ANDS document in 2008, the Afghan government focused on implementing and monitoring the sector strategies. The ANDS OSC was restructured into the Government Coordinating Committee (GCC), responsible for the high-level coordination of the ANDS process. While line ministries have the primary responsibility for implementation of the ANDS, the Ministries of Finance and Economy take the lead role in management and monitoring. To do so, the ANDS Directorate, responsible for coordination of implementation and development, was established in the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit in the Ministry of Economy.

The first ANDS annual report was developed in 2009 and endorsed by the Government Coordination Committee. The ANDS First Progress Report was submitted to the boards of the World Bank and IMF as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) approval process. Both the IMF and the World Bank announced over $1billion debt relief in January 2009. Soon after, a new political and governance initiative began, aimed at turning focus more toward the implementation of the ANDS. For more on this, see Kabul Conference and Kabul Process and Clusters and National Priority Programmes.

Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP)

The Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) was a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored project established in April 2003 to implement the Afghan government’s goal of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR). Over time, ANBP evolved to encompass the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) and Anti-Personnel Mine and Ammunition Stockpile Destruction (APMASD) initiatives. The project ended in 2011, and the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP, p. 20) now forms the main focus of disarmament and reintegration efforts.

The government first announced its intention to pursue a national voluntary DDR process at the Tokyo Meeting (p. 73) in February 2003, as part of its Security Sector Reform (SSR, p. 71) strategy. Through DDR, the Afghan Military Forces (AMF)—comprising the Northern Alliance, warlord militias, and other Taliban-era armed groups—were supposed to surrender their weapons and be reintegrated into civilian life. Soldiers who handed in their weapons through the DDR process received a medal and a certificate, and were offered a range of reintegration packages, such as vocational training, agricultural training and small business opportunities.

ANBP completed the disarmament and demobilisation segments of the DDR process by June 2005, and reintegration activities continued until June 2006. The ANBP’s original mandate was to demobilise and reintegrate 100,000 soldiers over three years, though this number was later revised downward. When the DDR process formally came to an end in June 2006, around 60,000 former AMF officers and soldiers had been disarmed, the vast majority opting for one of the reintegration options.

With the completion of DDR in 2005, ANBP shifted its focus to support the government’s APMASD and DIAG initiatives. Implemented by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), APMASD assisted the government in meeting its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (more commonly known as the Ottawa Convention). By the time the project was completed in January 2009, it had destroyed approximately 20,000 metric tons of ammunition and over 500,000 antipersonnel mines.

DIAG, which ended in March 2011, was designed to disband the estimated 100,000 armed militia fighters operating outside the former AMF. While DDR was a voluntary process, DIAG was mandatory and supported by both presidential decree and national legislation. DIAG focused on securing a safe environment and projects that would benefit communities, including livelihood assistance as well as skills training in areas such as livestock and poultry production.

By the time of its conclusion, DIAG had collected a reported 54,873 weapons; Of the 140 districts targeted by the project, 103 were declared “DIAG compliant.” The 37 “non-compliant” districts had a higher proportion of Anti Government Elements (AGEs), hindering the ability of DIAG to implement its mandate. UNDP states that the APRP will now take up the challenge of disarmament and reconciliation in these districts. Following March 2011, a number of former ANBP staff began working with the APRP, ensuring institutional memory of former reconciliation programmes.

Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO)

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO), established in 2002, provides a free security advice service catering exclusively to the needs of the NGO community in Afghanistan. It is financed  by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the Swiss Agency for Developmentand Cooperation (SDC) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ANSO is operated by theUK-based International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO).

ANSO is headquartered in Kabul and has regional offices in Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar. NGOs registered with ANSO have access to regularly scheduled services, which include:

  • Daily threat warnings and security alerts, weekly incident listings, and biweekly and quarterly reports analysing and projecting security trends;

  • Weekly regional security meetings;

  • Monthly orientations for staff of NGOs;

  • Representation of NGOs in relations with national and international security agencies; and

  • Training for guards and radio operators.

ANSO may also provide other services upon request, depending on its available capacity. These include:

  • Countrywide safety information for NGO movement;

  • Organisation-specific security advice;

  • Reviews of member NGOs’ security plans and site security;

  • Security-related statistical data and analysis; and

  • Crisis response services.

Below is a list of acronyms commonly found in ANSO communications:

ACG - Armed Criminal Group
AOG - Armed Opposition Group
BBIED - Body Borne Improvised Explosive Device (suicide vest)
DAC - District Administrative Centre
IED - Improvised Explosive Device
PSC - Private Security Company
RCIED - Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device
SAF - Small Arms Fire
SVBIED - Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
VBIED - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device

Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP)

The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP), approved by President Karzai in June 2010, aims to reintegrate into Afghan society all members of the armed opposition who are willing to renounce violence and accept Afghanistan’s Constitution. It is budgeted at a total of $782 million. As of December 2011, $148.5 million had been received from foreign donor governments.

The APRP is led by the High Peace Council, whose members were appointed by President Karzai in September 2010. In September 2011 the chairman of the High Peace Council, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated. Despite this, the government has expressed its continued commitment to the programme. The programme is being implemented by the Joint Secretariat under the direction of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with Provincial and District Governors coordinating the support of line ministries for local level processes. APRP implementation is supported by international partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA, see the UN in Afghanistan) and donor countries. Security for villages/districts participating in the APRP is provided mainly by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) with the support of ISAF/Coalition Forces (CF).

The government strategy has three pillars. The first is the strengthening of security and civilian institutions of governance to promote peace and reintegration. The second is the facilitation of the political conditions and support to the Afghan people to establish an enduring and just peace. The third is enhancement of national, regional and international support and consensus to foster peace and stability. These efforts are split between two broad categories that will operate simultaneously:

Strategic reconciliation
The strategic and political level focuses on the leadership of the insurgency and includes addressing the problem of sanctuaries, constructing measures for removal of names from the UN sanction list, ensuring the severance of links with al-Qaeda and securing political accommodation and potential exile to a third country.

Peace and reintegration at tactical and operational levels
This level focuses on the reintegration of foot soldiers, small groups, and local leaders who form the bulk of the insurgency. This includes: promoting confidence-building measures; seeking afwan (forgiveness) among the government, ex-combatants and communities; providing supportfor demobilisation; removing names from target/black lists; granting political amnesty; arranging local security guarantees and longer-term processes of vocational training; providing Islamic and literacy education; creating job opportunities and resettlement options on a case-by-case basis; and, offering independent mediation and facilitation services when requested. The peace and reintegration component of the APRP has been divided into three stages:

  1. Activities for social outreach, confidence-building, negotiations involving government and NGOs, and the mobilisation of local shuras (councils) to reach out to communities that demonstrate intent to join the peace process. In addition, the programme commits to funding technical and operational assistance for developing peace-building capacity at the national, provincial and district levels, assessments and surveys in priority areas, strategic communications, oversight, monitoring and evaluation, grievance resolution, human rights monitoring, an early warning mechanism to mitigate impending conflict, and free and responsible debate. This stage involves civil society groups and existing traditional mechanisms (including Afghan conflict resolution NGOs), religious and community leaders, members of the Ulema Council, and the Ministry of Border and Tribal Affairs, for the process of grievance resolution.

  2. A 90-day demobilisation process whereby a disarming combatant is registered in the Reintegration Tracking and Monitoring Database managed by the Joint Secretariat,  provided with an identification card guaranteeing freedom of movement, and given amnesty. While it is expected that many combatants will return home, the APRP commits to addressing relocation and resettlement requests. Communities will vouch for individuals who will reintegrate, using a system modelled on Community Development Councils (CDCs, see NSP) elections.

  3. Designed to “consolidate peace and support community recovery,” this stage comprises of offering a “menu of options” to the former armed opposition, based on the capacity,  security and diversity of needs of their communities. This includes such measures as: improving access to basic services, civic education, literacy, technical and vocational education/training, and employment. Other avenues include: an agricultural conservation corps, public works corps, and integration into the ANSF. The ministries participating in this community recovery are the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), and the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW).

The APRP documents state that the immediate priority provinces for introduction of the programme are Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Khost, Baghlan, Badghis, Kunduz, and Herat. However, it is also stated that “the programme is flexible and will respond to emerging opportunities in any province depending on the availability of resources and capacity.”

The APRP is complicated by a number of risk factors. Given the centralised nature of the programme there is a risk that capacity deficits at the local level will derail progress on the ground. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead participants to become disenchanted with  the programme and return to the insurgency. It has been reported that government failure to deliver job opportunities to reintegrees has led to many being admitted to the Afghan Local Police (ALP), despite the formal separation of the two programmes. This has worrying implications for longterm community stability. The APRP is also particularly vulnerable to disruption due to securityissues. The programme is being implemented in highly insecure provinces and districts, and those working on APRP can become targets for armed opposition groups. Despite the presence of a built-in vetting process, the APRP also faces an inherent difficulty in successfully distinguishing between committed insurgents and “guns for hire.”

The APRP is the most comprehensive of any reintegration and reconciliation programme yet implemented in Afghanistan. Previous efforts include the Afghanistan New Beginnings  Programme’s Disarmament (ANBP), Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR); Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG); and the Afghan-led Strengthening the Peace Programme (PTS).

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) was established in April 2002 as a means for coordinating donor funds in support of the Afghan government’s recurrent expenditures. The ARTF is now one of the most important delivery mechanisms for channeling aid into the government’s Core Budget (National Budget)—not only for salaries and operating costs but also for priority development programmes aimed at achieving the country’s national development targets.

As of November 2011, $5.21 billion has been pledged to the ARTF by 32 international donors. The ARTF Management Committee consists of: the World Bank (the administrator), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), UNDP and the Afghan Ministry of Finance. During SY1389 (2010- 11), ARTF handled $610.44 million in donor contributions. For SY1390 (2011-12), pledges have  reached $972.91 million. Since the ARTF’s inception (until November 2011), $2.29 billion has been disbursed to the government to finance recurrent costs, and $1.44 billion has been disbursed for investment projects.

The Afghan government encourages donors to channel funding through the ARTF rather than through NGOs or other actors, because it sees the ARTF as a way of increasing Afghan  ownership of the reconstruction process, facilitating the tracking and coordination of aid, and increasing transparency. When donating funds to the ARTF, donors are able to specify a preference for supporting a particular government project or programme; such preferences are limited to 50 percent of an agency’s annual contribution.

ARTF has financed several core national development programmes, including the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), the National Emergency Employment Programme (NEEP), the Educational Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP), Strengthening Health Activities for Rural Poor, the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), and the Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Irrigation Programme (RU-WatSIP). More recently, ARTF has launched a new Capacity Building for Results Facility, which aims to assist the government in improving the capacity and performance of select line ministries in carrying out their mandates, delivering essential services to the Afghan people and implementing National Priority Programs (NPPs).  Following its second external evaluation, completed in August 2008, the ARTF is evolving toward  a more programmatic, sector-oriented funding mechanism to drive the implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy priorities (ANDS).

In December 2008, ARTF donors agreed with the Government of Afghanistan to establish the ARTF Incentive Program within the Recurrent Cost Window of the ARTF. The objective of the Incentive Program is to support the Government’s reform agenda and progress towards fiscal sustainability. Funds are made available to the government’s budget on the basis of actual performance. The largest contributors to the Fund are the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Other donors include 15 European countries, the EC, Australia, India, Iran, Turkey and the Gulf States.

Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP)

The Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP) is a national level five-year project which aims to jumpstart private sector growth in rural Afghanistan. Estimated at $104 million, AREDP is managed by the Government of Afghanistan through the AREDP Program Management Office (PMO) within the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), and is supported by the World Bank, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)  and other bilateral donors. The programme officially began in June 2010, and is currently operational in Parwan, Bamiyan, Nangarhar, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar and Helmand.

AREDP seeks to cluster smaller existing micro-enterprises as well as community groups and associations, transforming them into larger, more efficient enterprise associations to tap the benefits of aggregation and economy of scale. The project is comprised of three key  components:

  • Community-Led Enterprise Development: This component aims to create Savings Groups (SGs), Enterprise Groups (EGs), and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These institutions will be assisted and trained to build their own capacities, increase the value of trading, ensure production is oriented toward identified market opportunities, and create access to credit.

  • Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development: This component aims to support the emergence of a stronger SME sector with improved trading linkages with the rural  economy and adequate access to financial services. The project will identify key value chains, choke points, and skill gaps in each province, and enable SMEs to gain access to technical support necessary for market development.

  • Project Implementation Support: This component will support MRRD project management, monitoring and evaluation; governance and accountability action plan design; gender  action plan design and implementation; and third-party audits.

Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (ASOP)

The Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (ASOP) is a USAID-funded programme which supports the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) in developing district-level  shuras (councils) in insecure districts. These are created in the absence of elected district councils as mandated in Article 140 of the Constitution. The programme is implemented by AECOM International Development. Started in June 2009 it was due to run until January 2012. As of January 2012, discussions between IDLG and USAID regarding a second phase of the programme were underway.

ASOP’s approach involves electing a 30-50 person District Community Council (DCC) as a way to involve traditional tribal shuras and religious leaders in government structures. Until district elections are held, the councils created under the programme are intended to be the key  governing bodies at the district level, with a remit to:

  • Foster community solidarity to prevent support for anti-government elements and activities in the district;

  • Monitor services and development projects entering the district, and communicate concerns to line ministries and donors;

  • Serve as a vetting mechanism for Afghan Local Police (ALP) recruits and encourage reconciliation with insurgent groups;

  • Ensure liaison and communication with government officials and security services to improve security and enforce the rule of law;

  • Provide a district-level forum for the resolution of conflicts that cannot be solved locally;

  • Provide a conduit for public grievances by informing the government of shortcomings, malpractices and problems in the provision of public services, and working jointly with government officials to identify and implement appropriate solutions;

  • Provide quality assurance for sustainable development by ensuring the security of  development projects, monitoring project outputs and reporting on these to government; and,

  • Facilitate communications, coordination and cooperation between the government communities to increase the level of trust and confidence between the government and the and people, and establish a stronger base for democratic governance.

ASOP provides orientation and service monitoring training for council members on themes such as management, good governance, conflict resolution, peace-building and disaster risk  reduction.

As of December 2011, more than 139 councils had been set up in insecure districts and 8,052 community council members—3.5 percent of which were women—had been trained. In 2011, ASOP’s budget was approximately $35 million. IDLG is currently discussing clarification of the institutional structures created by ASOP with MRRD, whose own District Development Assemblies (DDAs, see NABDP) operate under similar mandates with similar responsibilities.

The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) is an umbrella organisation that  promotes transparency, accountability and facilitates coordination among NGOs in Afghanistan. ACBAR was established in 1988 by NGOs working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan and acts as a conduit for information among the UN, NGOs, donors, and the Afghan government. Among its funders are the European Commission, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Swedish Embassy, the French Embassy, and its NGO members.

ACBAR has a membership of 112 national and international NGOs. All applicants must meet certain criteria and are required to sign the Afghanistan NGO Code of Conduct. The  General Assembly of the ACBAR membership meets twice a year, and the 16 members (12 full and four alternate) of the steering committee meet monthly in Kabul. The chairperson of the committee is always Afghan, while other members are representatives of both Afghan and international NGOs.
ACBAR organises its work along four basic lines: the Information/Coordination team is responsible for disseminating information, organising meetings, keeping records of NGO activities across the country, maintaining an NGO Directory, and other communication initiatives; the Advocacy and Policy team facilitates the exchange of views and information among NGOs to help them “develop and sustain a joint, field-led voice on key issues as they develop”; the Code of Conduct team is responsible for promoting and monitoring good governance practices among NGOs and capacity-building among NGOs and line ministries/departments on laws relevant to NGOs, the Code of Conduct and Sphere standards; the Civil Society and State Institutions Interaction team is responsible for working jointly with other NGO/Civil Society networks to structure and strengthen civil society organisations’ relationships with the government and the parliament.
ACBAR also assists in nomination of NGO representatives to government-led, inter-agency coordination mechanisms, and regularly advises NGOs on the NGOs Law, Income Tax Law and the Labor Law. ACBAR represented the NGO community at the Afghanistan Development Forum in 2004, 2005 and 2007; represented NGOs and civil society at the 2008 Paris Conference and the 2009 Hague Conference ; and represented NGOs and Civil Society at the 2010 London Conference , National Consultative Peace Jirga and Kabul Conference. ACBAR facilitates the Civil Society Consultation Board, which interacts with the Afghan government and UNAMA. In addition to its main office in Kabul, ACBAR has sub-offices in Herat, Jalalabad and Mazar-i- Sharif. The ACBAR website includes a well-known job announcement board.

Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS)

The Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) was developed in 2002 by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with major donors. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a standardised package of health services which forms the core of service delivery in all primary healthcare facilities and 2) to promote a redistribution of health services by providing equitable access based on population density.

The BPHS entails basic services at low cost and addresses the main causes of morbidity and mortality. It has a strong focus on conditions that affect women and children. In line with Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the BPHS aims to provide health services to all Afghans, especially those who are poor and live in remote and rural areas.

As of December 2009, in agreement with its major donors—primarily the World Bank, USAID, and the European Commission—the MoPH has contracted NGOs to deliver the BPHS in 31 out of 34 provinces and has contracted its own Provincial Health Offices to deliver the BPHS in three provinces.

The defined package is offered by five levels of facility: 1) health posts, 2) health sub-centres, 3) basic health centres, 4) comprehensive health centres, and 5) district hospitals, as well as by Mobile Teams in very remote areas. The BPHS also provides standards for staffing and infrastructure reconstruction and rehabilitation for these facilities. The BPHS has been revised to add physical therapists and psychosocial counsellors to selected health facilities, and primary eye care to the list of basic services to be made available.

Approximately 57 percent of the Afghan population live within an hour’s walk of the nearest public health facility (NRVA 2007-2008).

Berlin Meeting and Declarations

On 31 March–1 April 2004, Afghanistan’s major donors and development partners attended a meeting in Berlin at which the Afghan government presented a major fundraising document, entitled Securing Afghanistan’s Future (SAF). The document concluded that the funds required to rebuild Afghanistan to a stage where it is a self-sufficient and stable state were approximately $27.4 billion over the following seven years—substantially more than the $15 billion over ten years requested at the January 2002 Tokyo Ministerial Meeting. At the Berlin meeting, donors pledged $8.2 billion for the following three years and met the government’s immediate need of $4.2 billion for the 2004-05 fiscal year.

In addition to discussing the SAF document, the Berlin Meeting gave the Afghan government an opportunity to give a progress report on the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and to present its current plan. “The Way Ahead: The Work Plan of the Afghan Government” set out an ambitious agenda for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (see ANBP); election-related activities; and initiatives for public administration, fiscal management, economic and social development, gender, counter-narcotics, rule of law, and human rights.

The participants at the meeting signed the Berlin Declaration, in which the international community committed to continue supporting the Afghan government in its mission to implement the Bonn Agreement, improve the security situation, and move forward with its development agenda. A further agreement, the Berlin Declaration on Counter Narcotics, was signed by Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In this declaration, Afghanistan and its neighbours agreed to improve coordination in their efforts to eliminate the cultivation, production and trafficking of illegal drugs.


Bonn Agreement

The Bonn Agreement set out a timetable for the re-establishment of permanent government institutions in Afghanistan, and served as a roadmap for the creation of provisional arrangements until permanent ones could be put in place. It was signed on 5 December 2001 by representatives of various Afghan factions (excluding the Taliban) at the conclusion of the UN-sponsored Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. 

The Bonn Agreement laid out several processes, including the Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ) and the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ), through which power would be exercised and then transferred over time to a fully representative government selected through free and fair elections. It provided for the sovereignty of Afghanistan to reside first in the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), then in the Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA), and ultimately in an elected government.

The Bonn Agreement was largely adhered to, although security conditions affected timelines. The Afghan government and the UN successfully established most of the provisional arrangements called for, except for the withdrawal of “military units from Kabul and other urban centres or other areas in which the UN mandated force is deployed.” The last milestones of the Agreement were the presidential and parliamentary elections that took place in October 2004 and September 2005, respectively. In January 2006, the Bonn Agreement was replaced by the Afghanistan Compact.  

Bonn Conference 2011

Held a decade after the first Bonn Conference, this conference aimed to chart a new, ten-year blueprint for engagement between Afghanistan and the international community during the “Transformation Decade” (2014-2024) that will follow the conclusion of the Transition process (Transition, p. 73). The conference was hosted by Germany, chaired by Afghanistan and attended by 85 countries and 15 international organisations. The Conference concentrated on three key areas of engagement:

  • The civil aspects of the process of transferring responsibility to the Government of  Afghanistan by 2014;

  • The long-term engagement of the international community in Afghanistan after 2014; and

  • The political process that is intended to lead to the long-term stabilisation of the country.

The conference closed with the international community pledging its long-term commitment to Afghanistan, particularly with regard to security, agreeing to produce a clear plan for the future funding of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF, p. 9) at NATO’s May 2012 Chicago  summit and reiterating its support for an inclusive peace process. It was agreed that the international community’s role in Afghan governance would move from service delivery to capacity-building and support. The Conference also called for a regional solution to terrorism in Afghanistan and for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, saying that a political solution would be an essential element of stability. The international community endorsed the development of Afghanistan’s mineral resources but called for a strong regulatory framework to ensure benefits accrued to the Afghan people (see Mineral Resources).

In turn, the Afghan government promised to re-invigorate key development priorities such as
anti-corruption and rule of law, honour its obligations to international human and gender rights
mechanisms, and to continue the fight against drug cultivation.

Calendars in Afghanistan

Three calendar systems are used in Afghanistan:

  • The Hijrah-i Shamsi (solar Islamic) calendar is Afghanistan’s official calendar, in use officially since 1922 and re-established in the current Constitution (month names differ from the Iranian or Persian forms). In 2012, the Afghan year begins on 1 Hamal 1391 (20 March 2012).

  • The Hijrah-i Qamari (lunar Islamic) calendar, used for religious events and holidays.

  • The Gregorian calendar, or Miladi (solar Christian), used in international relations.

The website provides downloadable versions of Afghanistan’s
official calendars. To convert dates between Qamari and Gregorian years (or to Persian dates
using Iranian names) see:



Central Statistics Organization (CSO)

The Central Statistics Organization (CSO) is the central government agency responsible for the collection and dissemination of official statistics. The CSO collects and analyses data from other government entities—on national accounts, price indexes, external trade, and population and demographics—to be used for monitoring economic, financial and structural policies as well as other activities.

Established in 1973, the CSO was declared an independent body by presidential decree in March 2006. It has 800 staff, located at CSO headquarters in Kabul and at sub-offices in every province. The CSO reports directly to the President and is advised by the National Statistics Committee and the National Census Committee (temporarily set up to carry out the national census). Both committees include representatives from ministries and from the private sector.

The work of the CSO is grouped into ten major departments: economic statistics, demographic and social statistics, national accounts, operations, publication and dissemination, strategic planning and donor relations, administration, internal evaluation and audit, staff training centre, and a secretariat.

Each year, the CSO produces the Afghanistan Statistical Yearbook, the Consumer Price Index Yearbook, the Afghanistan Trade Statistical Yearbook (a publication focused on foreign trade), and the Estimated Population of Afghanistan (with data on gender and rural-urban residence at the provincial and local levels). The CSO also publishes a quarterly volume on foreign trade statistics, the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) and daily updates on consumer price indexes in Kabul and Jalalabad. In 2011, the CSO expanded its CPI reporting from six to ten provinces, while increasing the number of items in the CPI “basket” from 202 to 290. CSO publications are generally printed in Dari, Pashto and English, with information updates regularly reported on the CSO website.

In 2004, the CSO created a Statistical Master Plan (SMP) with the assistance of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Approved in 2005, the SMP outlined a programme designed to build capacity within the CSO to collect the national data required by the government for its programming. In 2008, the CSO conducted a survey of facilities for disabled individuals in Kabul; and in the year 2009 implemented a survey for economic organisations, and female participation in national-level decision making.

The CSO plans to carry out the national population census mandated by the Bonn Agreement . The last census of this scope was begun in 1979 but was never completed. The CSO has been involved in pre-census activities since 2003; in mid-2007, the CSO initiated a pilot census to identify obstacles and initial household listings for all 34 provinces and this was completed in 2009. The census proper will take approximately 21 days and require approximately 37,000 staff with a $62 million budget. However, a full national census will not be possible until there is a significant improvement in the countrywide security situation.

The CSO and the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), with cooperation from the European Commission, released the findings from the 2007/08 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) in October 2009. This latest NRVA marked a shift away from short-term data collection to a year-round strategy. Fieldwork was conducted from August 2007 to August 2008, which aimed to capture the seasonality of consumption to improve the quality of collected data, and to field a smaller group of carefully selected interviewers. The assessment collected information on: population structure and change, labour force characteristics, agriculture, poverty and equality, education, health, housing, the position of women, and household shocks and community preferences. NRVA 2007/8 indicated that the national poverty rate for Afghanistan is 36 percent, meaning that approximately nine million Afghans are not able to meet their basic consumption and other needs. In addition, there are many more people near that poverty level and a single negative shock can move many more into poverty.

In 2011, the CSO began a Socio-Demographic and Economic Survey (SDES) of Bamiyan, collecting similar data to the NRVA. In 2012, the SDES will take place in Ghor and Day Kundi. The CSO plans to continue these provincial SDESs on an annual, rolling basis, with the aim of surveying the entire country. Data results and reports from NRVA and SDES activities are available on the CSO website.

All organisations planning to conduct statistical research in Afghanistan are required by law to coordinate their activities with the CSO.

Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN)

The Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) aims to increase respect for human rights in Afghanistan through the establishment of a strong human rights movement. Founded by 25 Afghan organisations in August 2004, today CSHRN consists of 91 member organisations. The organisation is registered by the Ministry of Economy under the name of Civil Society and  Human Rights Organization (CSHRO).

CSHRN member organisations work individually and collectively for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights, freedom of speech, press freedom and the rule of law. Working to facilitate and maintain a dialogue with state institutions, CSHRN organises debates between member organisations, state institutions and traditional leaders. CSHRN has an experienced pool of trainers who have developed a range of training manuals specifically tailored to the Afghan context, focusing on human rights, conflict transformation, transitional justice and women’s rights. CSHRN uses the media to educate and promote a human rights discourse. Working with the radio channel Good Morning Afghanistan, CSHRN produces the weekly human rights program, “The Voice.” CSHRN also uses local radio in Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. In addition to the CSHRN quarterly magazine Angaara, the CSHRN runs a human rights page in the weekly family magazine Killid. CSHRN also carries out issue-based and policy-based advocacy projects. In 2011, CSHRN undertook a campaign to reduce domestic violence in Herat, and developed a draft law on freedom of information.

CSHRN is headquartered in Kabul, with provincial offices in Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Bamiyan and Herat. Member organisations constitute the CSHRN General Assembly, the overall policy and decision-making body of the network. A Steering Committee of eleven elected members ensures that CSHRN activities adhere to the agreed statutes and strategy.

Clusters and National Priority Programs (NPPs)

The Afghan government proposed a realignment of ministries into “clusters” at the London Conference 2010 to prioritise the implementation of the Afghanistan National  Development Strategy (ANDS). This was related to themes discussed at the conference surrounding national stability, job creation and economic growth, and representative and accountable governance. The government held ministerial-level meetings and consultations to develop the clusters and their associated National Priority Programs (NPPs) and presented a workplan for the various cluster groups at the Kabul Conference in July 2010 (p. 50). The rationale for clusters and the NPPs also includes enhanced monitoring and evaluation and an integrated approach to budget policy formation.

As of December 2011, following a number of revisions, the clusters and their relative NPPs were organised as follows:

Governance Cluster:
The Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, Independent Directorate of Local Governance, High Office of Oversight for Implementation of Anti-Corruption Strategy, Office of Administrative Affairs, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ministry of Interior and Controller and Audit Office are also represented in working groups.

Governance National Priority Programs:

  1. National Priority Program for Financial and Economic Reforms

  2. Program for National Transparency and Accountability

  3. Afghanistan Program for Efficient and Effective Government

  4. National Program on Local Governance

  5. National Program of Law and Justice for All

  6. National Program for Human Rights and Civic Responsibilities

Infrastructure Development Cluster:
The Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Energy and Water, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Urban Development, and Kabul Municipality.

Infrastructure National Priority Programs:

  1. National Regional Resources Corridor Initiative

  2. National Extractive Industries Excellence Program

  3. National Energy Supply

  4. Urban Planning Technical Assistance Facility

Private Sector Development Cluster:

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Private Sector National Priority Programs

  1. Integrated Trade Support Facility

  2. E-Afghanistan: Fostering an open information society

Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster (ARD):
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ministry of Energy and Water, and Ministry of Counter-Narcotics.

ARD National Priority Programs:

  1. National Water and Natural Resources Development

  2. National Comprehensive Agriculture Production and Market Development

  3. National Rural Access Program

  4. National Strengthening of Local Institutions

Human Resource Development (HRD) Cluster:
The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, and Ministry of Public Health.

HRD National Priority Programs:

  1. Facilitation of Sustainable Decent Work through Skills-Development and Market-Friendly Labor

  2. Education for All

  3. Expanding Opportunities for Higher Education

  4. Capacity Development to Accelerate National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan Implementation

  5. Human Resources for Health

Security Cluster
The National Security Council, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, National Directorate of Security, Ministry of Counter Narcotics, Department of Mine Clearance

Security National Priority Program:

  1. Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP)

Coalition Forces (CF)

Coalition Forces (CF) is the general term used to describe the US-led military organisation that has been in Afghanistan since late-2001. They are distinct from the UN Security Councilmandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that is also operating in

CF supported the Northern Alliance in overthrowing the Taliban regime in November 2001. Under the mission of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), these troops continue to operate in Afghanistan and reshape the posture of the Afghan defence forces, who will ultimately be  responsible for providing long-term stability in Afghanistan (see Transition). CF are a keypartner in implementing the Afghan government’s Security Sector Reform (SSR).

Though non-ISAF US troops in Afghanistan continue to be called Coalition Forces outside of the military, they were reorganised in February 2004 and renamed Combined Forces Command– Afghanistan (CFC-A). In 2004-05, CFC-A began transferring regional command to ISAF,  beginning with the West and North; in July 2006, command of the southern provinces was transferred. Command of the final quarter of the country, the East, was handed over in October 2006, leaving ISAF in charge of maintaining security in all of Afghanistan (since October 2008, however, United States Forces Afghanistan—see below—has assumed OEF responsibility, in coordination with ISAF, for the eastern regional command). After the 2006 handover to ISAF, CFC-A was inactivated as a coalition headquarters; the remaining non-ISAF US troops were ultimately overseen by US Central Command (CENTCOM).

Coalition Forces were most recently reorganised in October 2008 as US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). USFOR-A is overseen by CENTCOM while ISAF is a NATO-led force. Since 6 October 2008, however, both USFOR-A and ISAF have fallen under a single commander. On that day, General David D. McKiernan, the most senior US military officer in Afghanistan, was named commander of USFOR-A, after assuming command of ISAF in June 2008. General Stanley A. McChrystal held the post from April 2009 until his removal in June 2010, when General David Petraeus took command. In July 2011 General John Allen replaced General Petraeus.

USFOR-A was established to enhance the coordination and effectiveness of US support to the ISAF mission. It is intended to improve the unity of ISAF and US-led efforts by aligning and streamlining command and control of all US forces serving in Afghanistan. As of January 2012, approximately 18,000 troops were assigned to USFOR-A. USFOR-A has two primary subordinate commands:

  • Combined Joint Task Force 101 based at Bagram Air Field, which is responsible for counterterrorism and reconstruction operations.

  • Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan (CSTC-A), headquartered at Camp Eggers in Kabul, oversees CF involvement in the Afghan security sector, including training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). It is under the control of United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

Under CSTC-A’s operational control is Task Force Phoenix, responsible for training, mentoring and advising the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. CSTC-A is a joint service, coalition organisation with military personnel from the United States and other troopcontributing nations, as well as contracted civilian advisors, mentors and trainers.

Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP)

The 2010 Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) for Afghanistan marked the first time since 2002 that humanitarian actors convened to develop a coherent plan to address the chronic needs of the Afghan people. With input from 47 organisations, the HAP outlined the humanitarian community’s plans and collective strategy. HAP priorities focused on a cross-section of humanitarian,  recovery and development needs and vulnerabilities caused by a combination of extreme poverty, increasing insecurity, natural disasters and weak governance.

In 2011, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) determined that the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), the global humanitarian strategic planning and fundraising mechanism, would replace the HAP. The CAP sharpens the focus on preparedness and emergency response with a portfolio of projects supporting conflict and  natural disaster-affected internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugee returnees and host populations as well as chronically vulnerable communities in need of life-saving assistance. Support is targeted toward life-saving and livelihood saving needs, strengthened with emergency preparedness and contingency planning to ensure common strategies. Projects are organised under 11 clusters and sectors: Coordination; Education; Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items; Emergency Telecommunications; Food Security and Agriculture; Health; Logistics; Multi-Sector (for IDPs and refugee returnees); Nutrition; Protection; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. In 2011 the CAP appealed for $678 million for 134 projects, submitted by 51 humanitarian organisations (23 international NGOs, 16 national NGOs and 12 UN Agencies), in consultation with the Afghan government. The total was then revised down to $453.6 million, of which 70 percent ($315.5 million) was received.

The 2012 CAP appealed for $437 million for 147 projects, and was submitted by 80 international
NGOs, 38 national NGOs and 29 UN Agencies in consultation with the Afghan government. This year’s CAP has three strategic objectives:

  • Plan for and respond to the humanitarian assistance and protection needs arising from armed conflict, focusing particularly on: the displaced; those without access to basic and humanitarian assistance (including that delivered by the Afghan government); an  populations where there is no humanitarian access (with other assistance or support, including from the government).

  • Advocate for and provide protection and support to populations in informal urban settlements, and to provide protection and initial return assistance to IDP returnees.

  • Prepare for and respond to the protection and humanitarian needs arising from annual and seasonal natural “disasters,” as well as advocate for progress on implementation of Hyogo Framework Priorities 1-4 (the world’s first international framework for disaster risk reduction).

Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ)

The convening of the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ) was the culmination of the process of agreeing on a new Afghan constitution. The CLJ opened on 14 December 2003 and continued for 22 days. Of the 500 delegates, 450 were selected through regional elections, and 50 were appointed by President Karzai. More than one-fifth of the seats were allocated for special-category representatives, including women, refugees in Pakistan and Iran, internally displaced peoples (IDPs), Kuchis, Hindus, and Sikhs.

The draft Constitution debated by the CLJ was produced by the Constitutional Drafting Commission (CDC) and the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). In mid-2003, after a month of civic education activities, a draft of the Constitution was subject to a public consultation process around Afghanistan and among refugee communities in Iran and Pakistan. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) estimates that 178,000 people were reached through these consultations, 19 percent of whom were women. The CRC published its final draft of the Constitution on 3 November 2003.

At the CLJ, delegates were divided into working committees to debate the text of the draft Constitution. A Reconciliation Committee edited the draft text to incorporate the working committees’ suggestions. Passionate debates, boycotts, and heated arguments featured in the discussions that took place. A vote was supposed to be taken on all contentious articles, which mostly regarded form of government, the role of Islam, national languages, the national anthem, and the dual nationality of ministers. Although no vote took place, on 4 January 2004 a closing ceremony was held where the delegates signalled their approval of the final text by standing up. 

The Constitution was officially signed on 26 January 2004 by President Karzai. It provides for an elected President along with two nominated Vice Presidents, a Cabinet of Ministers, and a National Assembly with two houses—the lower Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) and the upper Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders). It grants equal citizenship to Afghan men and women, and commits Afghanistan to uphold its international human rights obligations. It states that Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic and that no law can be contrary to Islam.

Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)

Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA) is a nonprofit humanitarian organisation founded in 1987. Its strategic aims are to reduce poverty and vulnerability, ensure fair distribution of resources, facilitate reliable social and economic development and ensure the basic rights of the citizens of Afghanistan. Its sister organisations are the Organisation for Human Resources Development (OHRD), Saba Media Organization (SMO) and Watch on Basic Rights Organization (WBRO).

CHA began its operations in two districts in Farah Province, but soon expanded into eight additional provinces: Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Herat, Ghor, Faryab, Parwan and Kapisa. CHA currently employs approximately 2,000 staff, making it one of the largest national NGOs in Afghanistan. The organisation is currently active in six main strategic fields: 1) health and nutrition, 2) education and cultural affairs, 3) agriculture and livestock, 4) community development and social protection, 5) disaster risk reduction and emergency response, and 6) gender mainstreaming.

CHA has been able to increase its project’s size, coverage areas and diversity of activities as a
reliable partner of donors and the Afghan government. Donors include Oxfam-Novib, Norwegian
Church Aid (NCA), USAID, EU, UNHCR, IOM, FAO, DKH, Asia Society, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD).

Counter-Narcotics (CN)

At the first National Counter Narcotics Conference in December 2004, newly-elected President Hamid Karzai declared counter-narcotics (CN) a priority of his government. The cultivation, production, abuse and trafficking of narcotic drugs is banned in Afghanistan.

CN is one of five  pillars in the government’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) policy and a crosscutting theme in the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the Kabul Process. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) oversees policy, strategy and coordination of all CN activities, working closely with many ministries, including the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Currently, CN initiatives are guided by the 2006 version of the National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) which is in the process of being updated by MCN. As the strategic framework for the government’s CN efforts, the NDCS currently identifies four key priorities:

  1. Disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and their backers and eliminating the basis for the trade;

  2. Strengthening and diversifying licit rural livelihoods;

  3. Reducing the demand for illicit drugs and providing treatment for problem drug users; and

  4. Strengthening state institutions both at the centre and in the provinces.

In addition to these priorities, the NDCS outlines eight “pillars of activities”: public awareness, international and regional cooperation, alternative livelihoods, demand reduction, law enforcement, criminal justice, eradication, and institution building.

The NDCS is backed by the Counter Narcotics Drug Law, enacted by presidential decree in December 2005, and Article 7 of the 2004 Constitution, which stipulates that “the state  prevents all types of terrorist activities, cultivation and smuggling of narcotic drugs and production and consumption of intoxicants.” As detailed in the Drug Law, the Ministry of Justice has developed an effective CN legal framework, and in February 2005 created a CN Criminal Justice Task Force to deal with CN cases and train judges, prosecutors and investigators in CN procedures.

There are two institutions designed to enforce CN legislation, both of which fall under the Deputy Minister of Interior for Counter Narcotics. The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA), with a strength of around 2,500, is the primary agency responsible for coordinating CNlaw enforcement, detecting and investigating significant drug-trafficking offences. Various central units of CNPA are mentored by international bodies, such as the National Interdiction Unit (NIU) and Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU), which are mentored by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The Afghan Special Narcotics Force carries out interdiction operations throughout Afghanistan, working closely with the CNPA. CN training is also provided to the Afghan National Police (ANP), including the Border Police.

Of the aforementioned NCDS pillars, much weight has been given to Alternative Livelihoods (AL).
AL aims to provide opium farmers and labourers with alternative crop options, credit mechanisms,business support, market access, and labour opportunities. In the short term, AL programmes seek to support those who have lost their livelihoods through self-restraint from planting or forced eradication of their crops. This includes cash-for-work projects that build and rehabilitate rural infrastructure, create greater income generation, and allow skill-building activities for vulnerable households. In the long term, AL programmes are meant to be comprehensive rural development initiatives.

The Comprehensive Agricultural and Rural Development Facility (CARD-F) programme, launched in October 2009, was designed to mainstream CN and AL objectives. Two of its stated objectives are to: “increase legal rural employment and income opportunities through more efficient markets,” and “reduce risk of a resurgence in poppy cultivation in and around key economic hubs in Afghanistan,by creating commercially viable and sustainable alternatives for farmers to earn licit income.”

According to the Kabul Process documents, “The targeted outcome for CARD-F’s initial phase is a tested and proven mechanism for delivery of district-based integrated agriculture and rural development in selected provinces and districts.” CARD-F is still in its pilot phase, due to run until March 2013, for which approximately $47.5 million has been committed by the UK’s Department For International Development. This money has been used to fund institutional development, to design 17 district-level Economic Development Packages (EDP) and to implement five of these EDPs. The selection of districts that will receive EDPs is managed by CARD-F’s Inter-Ministerial Committee(IMC), chaired by the MCN and also including representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF). IMC also approve CARD-F’s strategic direction and annual plans.

Eradication has been a component of the CN effort since the 2001-02 growing season. The eradication that has taken place had been planned by the Central Eradication Planning and Monitoring Cell within the MCN and carried out by the Central Poppy Eradication Force (PEF)  with assistance from the international community. Some eradication was also conducted by provincial governors through the Governor-Led Eradication programme (GLE), supplemented by the ANP and  Afghan National Army (ANA). In 2009, the PEF was disbanded and the focus has since been placed on the GLE. A weekly Eradication Working Group meeting is held by MCN, and includes representatives of the government, the United Kingdom, the United States, ISAF  and the United Nations.

A cabinet sub-committee on CN includes relevant ministers, and embassy and donor representatives. There are also several issue-specific NDCS working groups under the auspices of the MCN, and CN is also on the agenda of the high-level Policy Action Group (PAG). A CN Consultative Group (CG) was incorporated into the ANDS process.

Funding for CN initiatives has come from a number of sources. Between 2005 and 2008, the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF), a multi-donor funding source, contributed to fulfilling the objectives of the NDCS, though is no longer functioning. Currently, the majority of funding comes from the Good Performance Initiative (GPI), a fund administered by the MCN that is given to provinces that have either remained poppy free or made significant steps to reduce poppy cultivation.

Development Assistance Database (DAD)

With the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Afghan government’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) established the Development Assistance Database (DAD) in June 2002. This web-based database aims to provide up-to-date information on all projects that fall within the national development budget (see National Budget, p. 59) as well as some extra-budgetary projects. The database stores detailed information about the location of development projects, who is financing them, and which organisations are involved in their implementation. The DAD relies on the provision of data from development project funders and implementers, including government organisations, development partners and UN agencies. The database is available in English and Dari.

The DAD was originally designed to track the flow of aid and record the progress of development and humanitarian projects around the country. It still serves this purpose; however, as the government of Afghanistan works to develop a more robust budget, the DAD is also used as a budget formulation database. As of January 2012, MoF is beginning an upgrade of the DAD to a sixth version, which will simplify some of the modules, and make the system more user-friendly and work faster on the web.

Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ)

As required by the Bonn Agreement, an Emergency Loya Jirga (ELJ) was held on 11-19 June 2002 to “decide on the transitional authority, including a broad-based transitional administration to lead Afghanistan until such time as a fully representative government can be elected through free and fair elections to be held no later than two years from the date of the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.” The ELJ largely succeeded in its task by electing and swearing in Hamid Karzai (formerly chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority) as President and by approving his cabinet, thereby forming the Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA). 

A special independent commission (the Loya Jirga Commission) determined the rules and procedures for the ELJ, which was to have seats for 1,501 delegates, including 160 women. In the end 1,650 delegates participated, including more than 200 women. Concerns about the proceedings and results of the ELJ included: the criteria for the selection of delegates, the failure to hold a proper vote to choose the structure of government and the cabinet members, intimidation of delegates, and a perceived lack of transparency throughout the process. The conduct of participants at the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ), held in late 2003, was generally thought to have been an improvement on that at the ELJ, with fewer reports of intimidation and harassment.

European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL)

The European Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) was established to assist the Afghan government in building a police force that respects human rights as well as in reforming the Ministries of Interior and Justice. Its mission is to “contribute to the establishment of sustainable and effective civil policing arrangements that will ensure appropriate interaction with the wider criminal justice system under Afghan ownership.”

EUPOL advises and trains Afghan authorities at the ministerial, regional, provincial and district levels in six main areas: intelligence-led policing; police chain of command, control and communication; criminal investigation; anti-corruption strategy; police-prosecutor linkages; and human rights and gender mainstreaming within the Afghan National Police (ANP). Outside of Kabul, EUPOL personnel are also assigned to various Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).

Originally a German pilot project, the mission was launched in June 2007 by the Council of the European Union through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), which enables  individual European nations to collectively act in the field of civilian and military crisis management. The EUPOL Mission was originally mandated for three years until June 2010. In May 2010, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of the mission until 31 May 2013.

The current mission strength is approximately 325 international staff and 200 local staff. As of December 2011, the budget was €60.5 million (approximately $80 million), contributed by 23 EU states (with Germany being the largest contributor), Canada, Croatia, Norway and New  Zealand. In July 2010, Brigadier General Jukka Savolainen (Finland) became Head of the Mission, succeeding Police Commissioner Kai Vittrup of Denmark.

Along with its regular tasks, in 2012 the mission will focus on leadership training for the ANP in a
Police Staff College, a new Criminal Investigation Division faculty and a training centre in Bamiyan that will also train female police officers. All three institutions will be built in 2012 as part of an EU project worth €15 million. The leadership training for police District Commanders and other leading police personnel currently takes place in temporary structures.

Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC)

The Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC) was founded by presidential decree in 2007 as an Afghan-led entity to respond to the information needs of the Afghan public, media, and other national and international stakeholders. The GMIC aims to build trust among the Afghan public and other stakeholders through: provision of timely and accurate information, continuous and consistent dissemination, facilitation of coordination and information sharing among acting agencies in the Afghan government and independent media, and capacity building for the government’s information and communication portals. The majority of GMIC’s funding comes from the US Embassy.

GMIC’s three programme departments serve the goals of the Centre. The Media Relations and Coordination Department ensures information coordination and dissemination to the public through establishing and maintaining relationships between the government and the independent media. The Capacity Building Department builds capacity in the Afghan government’s communications offices by creating and conducting educational activities tied to their needs, also organising seminars and workshops for the professional capacity-building of journalists from the independent media. The Public Outreach Department, the awareness-raising unit within GMIC, aims to eliminate the gap between the government and the people through nationwide information collection and dissemination using modern and traditional means so that the Afghan public are properly informed about the progress and activities of the government.

Hague Conference on Afghanistan 

On 31 March 2009, the Netherlands hosted the International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context at the World Forum in The Hague. The conference brought together high-ranking officials from 72 countries, reaffirming their commitment to Afghanistan. In their final statement, the participants stressed the need for greater cooperation, good governance, economic development, and strengthened security in Afghanistan. 

High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC)

The High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC) was created by presidential decree in
July 2008, mandated with supervising and implementing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Anti-corruption is a cross-cutting issue of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). In 2006, President Karzai set up the Inter-Institutional Committee on Corruption (IICC), which was tasked with assessing remedies to corruption within Afghanistan. This produced the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which recommended the creation of HOOAC.

As well as enhancing government mechanisms to reduce opportunities for corruption, HOOAC maintains a whistle-blowing function, allowing citizens to report instances of corruption which HOOAC will then follow up, passing them to the Attorney General if sufficient evidence of wrongdoing is gathered. However, HOOAC is largely concerned with prevention of corruption, rather than prosecution.

HOOAC’s 2011-2013 strategic plan highlights the dangers of increased corruption as governance
is devolved to the subnational level. In response to this, HOOAC is developing seven regional offices and a Provincial Task Force which will deploy from its Kabul central office. As of December 2011, five of the regional offices had been opened. In the long term, HOOAC plans to expand into all 34 provinces.

Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC) 

In May 2002, an Independent Civil Service Commission was established, as required by the Bonn
Agreement, to lead the government’s process for Public Administration Reform (PAR). Its responsibilities were subsequently amended and extended by two presidential decrees in June 2003, and the Commission was renamed the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC).

The Commission’s work is aimed at building a public administration in Afghanistan that is sound,
functional, transparent, effective, accountable, responsible, apolitical and impartial. IARCSC’s strategic goals are to:

  • Create the necessary legal framework and capacity to develop human resources management;

  • Improve the Commission’s own capacity;

  • Comprehensively reform civil service administration;

  • Encourage merit- and competency-based recruitment through free competition throughout the civil service;

  • Implement pay and grading reforms and performance evaluation throughout the civil service;

  • Communicate these reforms to the Afghan public;

  • Establish an effective procedure for addressing civil service employee complaints;

  • Promote the role of women in the civil service; and

  • Evaluate the progress of implementing previous and existing reform processes and initiate the next phase of change and development.

The Commission is composed of: a Civil Services and Management Department (CSMD), a Civil Service Secretariat (CSS), a Civil Service Institute (CSI), an Independent Appointments Board, an Independent Appeals Board, a Provincial Affairs Department and a Programme Design and Coordination Directorate.

The CSMD is responsible for drafting and overseeing the implementation of policies related tohuman resources, and training and development. The CSS provides executive, communications and operations assistance to the Commission and is responsible for evaluating the implementation of programmes. The CSI was founded in 2007 as a training source for civil servants throughout Afghanistan. Courses are offered in management, information technology and the English language at both national and provincial levels.

The Appointments Board is responsible for appointing senior-level civil service officials and supervising the appointment of junior-level officials. The Appeals Board is the forum through which civil servants can lodge complaints, including those regarding decisions about appointments. Both boards, though under the auspices of the IARCSC, are independent and function autonomously.

The Provincial Affairs Department is responsible for ensuring the coherent delivery of IARCSC’s services across all provinces, and works closely with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). The Programme Design and Co-ordination Directorate aids government ministries in the design of development programmes while ensuring their coordination with government-wide development objectives. Both bodies were created in 2011, as part of an expansion that saw IARCSC’s staff grow to around 900 members.

In 2011, IARCSC provided basic training to over 16,000 civil servants as part of its capacitybuilding mission. Major projects scheduled for 2012 include a management internship project designed to train the next generation of civil servants, administrative training for senior- and executive-level civil servants, and the development of a Masters degree in Public Administration in collaboration with Kabul and Balkh universities.

The Commission currently has seven regional offices, 34 provincial offices and 27 training centres. Financial and technical support to the IARCSC and its initiatives have come from the United Nations Development Programme, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the EU, USAID, the UK, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Germany and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

Independent Commission for the Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC)

The 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan contains provisions for both legislative (Article 90) and judicial (Article 121) constitutional oversight. However, this has previously led to difficulties;  both the Wolesi Jirga and the Supreme Court have on occasion refused to accept the authority of the other on constitutional matters. To avoid this situation, Article 157 of the Constitution calls for the establishment of an Independent Commission for the Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC) to act as an overarching arbitrator. However, the ICSIC was only established in June 2010 following several weeks of protest by the Wolesi Jirga on, among other things, the controversies of the February 2010 amendments to the Electoral Law.

ICSIC’s legally mandated activities include:

  • Supervising the observance and application of the Constitution by the President, government,

  • National Assembly and other state and non-state organisations;

  • Providing legal advice on Constitutional matters to the President and National Assembly;

  • Making suggestions to the President and National Assembly on laws that are constitutionally required; and

  • Reporting any violations of the Constitution to the President.

The Constitution states that the President shall appoint members of the Commission, and that the Wolesi Jirga shall confirm their appointment.

ICSIC became briefly embroiled in the controversy following the 2010 elections (see Government
section), allegedly declaring that the Special Court set up by President Karzai to adjudicate on the elections was unconstitutional, but failing to make the decision public.

Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)

The Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) was established by presidential decree on 30 August 2007 with a mandate to improve governance and achieve stability atthe subnational level. The IDLG is responsible for supervising the four entities of subnational government: provincial and district governors, Provincial Councils, and municipalities (except Kabul). After a second decree in May 2008, IDLG was tasked with leading the process of creating a subnational governance policy for Afghanistan, which involves 23 ministries and government agencies.

The IDLG’s mission is “to consolidate peace and stability, achieve development and equitable economic growth and to achieve improvements in service delivery through just, democratic processes and institutions of good governance at subnational level thus improving the quality of life of Afghan citizens.” The Directorate is responsible for a large range of functions and activities. Its priorities, strategy and functions are outlined in its Strategic Framework, its Five Year Strategic Workplan (covering 2008-2013), and the Subnational Governance Policy (SNGP) that was approved by the Council of Ministers on 22 March 2010.

The IDLG is made up of seven directorates: the Policy Directorate, the General Directorate of Municipal Affairs, the General Directorate of Local Councils, the Strategic Co-ordination Unit (SCU), the Boundary Directorate, the Gender Unit and a Human Resources Directorate. The IDLG is currently planning to create a new Monitoring and Evaluation Unit in 2012. The IDLG is responsible for the six programmes which make up the Local Governance National Priority Program (NPP) under the Governance Cluster, as detailed in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The SCU was responsible for creating these programmes, which will guide the development of local governance over the next three years.

  • The Performance Based Governance Fund (PBGF) began in 2010. The PBGF provides a monthly sum of $25,000 for Provincial Governors to use as operational funding in areas such as social outreach. The provision of the money is contingent on the performance of governors’ offices, as judged by a quarterly evaluation. In 2012 the IDLG plans to create a PBGF for Provincial Councils.

  • The District Delivery Program (DDP) aims to establish or visibly improve government presence at the local level in recently secured districts by implementing tailored “District Packages” (DPs) of services. As of December 2011 DPs for 44 districts were being created, 38 had already been created with 32 of those approved by the Ministry of Finance. DPs were beingimplemented in 19 districts. So far, one DP (in Nad Ali, Helmand) has been completed. The IDLG aims to have implementation underway in all target districts by 2013.

  • The Afghanistan Subnational Governance Program II provides technical support and a variety of capacity-building measures for Provincial Governors’ offices in all 34 provinces.

  • The Afghanistan Local Government Facility Development Program is an infrastructure development programme, building office space and providing adequate facilities for the institutions of local governance.

  • The Afghanistan Social Outreach Program (ASOP) creates local community shuras (councils) to be integrated in to local government structures. See ASOP  for further details.

  • The Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Population (RAMP-UP) works with all 34 provincial municipalities to build capacity and train staff, raising the quality of service delivery.

The IDLG is also making a significant contribution to the Transition process.

The SCU is currently carrying out an institutional assessment of local government to provide IDLG with the information necessary to address key local issues of subnational governance during the Transition process. A pilot has been conducted successfully in two provinces, and the project will now roll out across the entire country, with completion projected for March 2012.

The IDLG is involved in Public Administration Reform (PAR), working closely with the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC). PAR initiatives such as the Performance and Grading pay system have been introduced in around 65 percent of local government institutions. Similarly, 66 district governors have reportedly been recruited through open, merit-based competition instead of by political appointment.

Key partners to the IDLG include the United Nations Development Programme, currently working on the Afghanistan Subnational Governance Program II, The Asia Foundation, and the USAID Capacity Development Program (DGP).

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

The mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is to assist the Afghan government in establishing and maintaining a safe and secure environment in Afghanistan, with the full involvement of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). ISAF was first established by UN Security Council Resolution 1386 on 20 December 2001 as envisaged in Annex I of the Bonn Agreement and upon the invitation of the Afghan Interim Authority. It is a UN-authorised multinational force, not a UN peacekeeping force, and the costs of maintaining ISAF are borne by its contributing nations rather than by the UN.

On 11 August 2003, at the UN’s and Afghan government’s request, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took responsibility for ISAF, the mission of which was then limited to Kabul. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorised the expansion of the NATO mission beyond Kabul. Until February 2007, leadership of ISAF rotated among participating nations; the first ISAF missions were led by the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands. Each subsequent rotation is referred to by a new roman numeral. With the implementation of ISAF X in February 2007, ISAF was made a “composite headquarters” rather than being tasked to a single country. This means that individual nations volunteer to fill their allotted positions in the way they see fit. In July 2011, US General John Allen became Commander of ISAF, replacing US General David Petraeus.

ISAF and its operations are distinct from the US-led Coalition Forces (CF), who helped the Northern Alliance overthrow the Taliban and continue to operate in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. ISAF was initially responsible for security only in Kabul, while CF was in command of security in the rest of the country. From October 2003, however, the process of expanding ISAF and unifying both military forces under one central command began. Regional command of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) was thus transferred to ISAF during the period of 2003-06. Completing the geographical expansion of the ISAF mission, command of the final, eastern quarter of the country was handed over on 5 October 2006, leaving ISAF in charge of all PRTs and effectively responsible for security in all of Afghanistan. ISAF also implements the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team programme, which embeds mentors in selected kandaks (battalions) of the ANA.

ISAF’s overall structure consists of: two Kabul-based headquarters (ISAF Command and ISAF Joint Command); the Air Task Force responsible for air operations; Regional Commands for each of the six regions (Capital, North, West, South West, South, East); Forward Support Bases; and PRTs. The North Atlantic Council, NATO’s decision-making body, provides political guidance to ISAF in consultation with non-NATO nations contributing troops to the force.

In August 2009, NATO allies agreed to adjust the ISAF Upper Command structure to align with the increase in ISAF’s scope and scale of responsibilities. In November 2009, a new intermediate
headquarters was established to better streamline ISAF efforts by separating the strategic political-military and day-to-day functional operations. The new ISAF Upper Command Structureconsists of a higher strategic headquarters, ISAF HQ, commanded by a 4-star General (General Allen), and two subordinate 3-star headquarters (or Intermediate Headquarters), called the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) and the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) HQ. Both Headquarters are located in Kabul.

Under this new command structure, COMISAF (4 star) focuses on the more strategic politicalmilitary aspects of the ISAF mission, synchronising ISAF’s operations with the work of Afghan and other international organisations in the country. COMISAF is dual-hatted as the Commander of ISAF and US Forces in Afghanistan (COM USFOR-A) thus coordinating and de-conflicting ISAF operations and the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. COMISAF has command responsibility over the IJC Commander, the Commander of NTM-A and the NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF).

The ISAF Joint Command, COMIJC, headed by 3-star Lieutenant General Curtis M. Scaparotti, is
responsible for executing the full spectrum of tactical operations throughout Afghanistan on a day to day basis. He takes under command the Regional Commands, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and the theatre enablers. In addition, he ensures the coordination of ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces operations, and is dual-hatted as US and ISAF Commander, as is COM NTM-A who is NATO/ISAF Commander and Commander of the US-led Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A).

As part of the Transition process, ISAF forces are gradually handing over security responsibility in Afghanistan to the ANSF. Whilst ISAF states that Transition is an events-driven rather than calendar-based, the projected date for the completion of Transition is the end of 2014. This process is likely to be accompanied by significant withdrawals of troops. Reductions in troop numbers from the mid-2011 peak of around 140,000 have already begun, and as of January 2012 it was projected that 40,000 ISAF troops would leave by the end of the year.

As of January 2012, ISAF’s total strength was 130,638 troops. The 50 troop-contributing countries are: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Istanbul Regional Conference

The Istanbul Regional Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia. a oneday event held on 2 November 2011, aimed to achieve greater regional cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours, particularly in the fields of economics and security. Participants included Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Iran, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Conference observers included France, Canada, the EU, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Norway, the UK, the US and the UN. The Conference ended with the publishing of a declaration, adopted by all participants and observers. This expressed support for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and pledged mutual non-interference in neighbouring countries’ affairs.

All participants signed up to the “Istanbul Process,” which aims to enhance regional cooperation in terms of security, economics, counter narcotics and development. It was agreed at the time to present specific plans to achieve the goals set by the Istanbul Conference at a meeting in Kabul some time in 2012.

At a separate meeting on 3 November, Pakistan and Afghanistan pledged to use biometric techniques to prevent unregistered movement across their shared border.

Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB)

The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) is a high-level governing body established in 2006 to provide overall strategic coordination of the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. The JCMB was formed by the Afghan government and the international community following the endorsement of the Afghanistan Compact and the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) at the January 2006 London Conference. It aims to ensure greater coherence of efforts by the Afghan government and the international community to realise the goals set forth first in the Afghanistan Compact and the Declaration of the Paris Conference, and later in the Kabul Conference communiqué.

Following the adoption of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) at the Paris
Conference of June 2008, the JCMB expanded its focus from monitoring the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact to include the provision of strategic and policy guidance on the implementation of the ANDS. With the Afghanistan Compact’s expiration in February 2011, the JCMB’s role has focused on monitoring the Kabul Process and acting as the highest formal decisionmaking body linking the Afghan government and the international community, ruling on initiatives such as the expansion of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

The JCMB is co-chaired by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan  and the Chair of the Afghan government’s cabinet-level Coordinating Committee (currently the Minister of Finance), which is responsible for JCMB oversight and the implementation of the ANDS. The JCMB is made up of 28 representatives, seven of which are representatives of the government. The remaining 21 are representatives of the international community who are selected based on criteria such as the largest contribution of development aid and military troops as well as regional representation. These include the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), NATO, the Combined Security Transition Command—Afghanistan (see Coalition Forces), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, donor governments, and governments of neighbouring countries. The total number of participants is not fixed and is liable to rise; the Republic of Korea represents the board’s most recent addition. The JCMB typically meets around twice per year.

The work of the JCMB is now facilitated by three standing committees covering security; governance, human rights and rule of law; and economic and social development. These thematic groupings correspond to the pillars of the ANDS. In carrying out its assessments, the JCMB considers inputs from the standing committees, which consist of representatives of the Afghan government and relevant international partners, as well as ad-hoc, expert task forces that are established by the standing committees to address specific technical issues. Under its original mandate, the JCMB produced two semi-annual reports a year; this was later revised to one annual report at the start of 2008. The JCMB also produces additional reports available to the public.

Justice Sector Reform (JSR)

Justice Sector Reform (JSR), one of the five pillars of the Afghan government’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) strategy, involves a wide range of projects undertaken by a wide range of actors. Within the Afghan government, the main permanent institutions engaged with and  subject to JSR initiatives are the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, and the Attorney General’s Office.

Main donors in the justice sector include Italy, the US, Canada, Norway, Germany and the UK. A number of UN agencies also contribute to JSR, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women. JSR includes both top-down institutional development and bottom-up public access initiatives, including:

  • Construction and reconstruction of infrastructure for justice institutions, and capacity- building and training of justice sector employees;

  • Renewing the educational methodologies of justice-related training and courses at some universities;

  • Drafting of legislation;

  • Expansion of the provision of legal aid and public legal awareness campaigns;

  • Improvement of traditional justice mechanisms (primarily local councils such as jirgas and shuras) to ensure that they conform to the norms of the national legal order and international human rights standards; and

  • Coordination with other government priorities, such as counter-narcotics, anticorruption and land reform.

Since 2001, achievements in JSR have included: the passage of several key laws; the training of judges, judicial police, prosecutors, and defence lawyers; renewal of justice-related educational methodologies; and the construction of a number of courthouses, prosecutors’ offices, prisons, and other justice-sector institutions. Beginning in 2004, the Italian-led Provincial Justice Initiative trained Afghan trainers and deployed them around the country to build legal capacity at the subnational level. The Independent National Legal Training Centre opened in 2007 and is situated at Kabul University. The Centre provides legal training for postgraduate students, legal professionals, and staff from Afghan justice institutions; in 2008, it opened Afghanistan’s first full-service law library.

Commitment to JSR was refocused with the establishment of the International Coordination Group on Justice Reform in October 2006, the December 2006 Rule of Law Conference in Dubai, and the July 2007 Rome Conference on Justice and Rule of Law in Afghanistan. Participants at the Rome Conference—representatives of the Afghan government, donors, and the international community—agreed to a series of joint goals, underlying principles, and key actions.

Implementation of key actions began following the conference; this included the establishment of a National Justice Programme, a National Justice Sector Strategy, and a mechanism for pooled donor funding of the programme, providing both immediate support for short-term projects and long-term, coordinated funding. Rome Conference participants also agreed to the establishment of an Afghan-led monitoring and evaluation system for the justice sector under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy Secretariat (ANDS) and the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB).

As part of the ANDS process, each Afghan justice institution—the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, and the Attorney General’s Office—prepared a five-year strategy for reform. With guidance and technical assistance provided by UNAMA’s Rule of Law office, these strategies were combined by November 2007 into a justice sector strategy widely viewed as the best-developed of the ANDS sector strategies. Both the National Justice Programme and Sector Strategy were finalised in March 2008. Based on that document, the Project Oversight Committee (POC, composed of high-level Afghan government officials and advised by an international Board of Donors) and a Programme Support Unit (PSU) were established in July 2008.

The Afghanistan Justice Sector Reform Project (AJSRP) is currently being implemented under the
guidance of the World Bank and financed by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF); it is the first justice sector project implemented under the Fund. It focuses on enhancing: management of human resources and physical infrastructure, information, and communication technology; legal aid and legal awareness; and support to the POC and PSU. Preparation of  AJSRP II, the second iteration of this project, was due to be completed by January 2012, with implementation to follow. This phase will continue many of the initiatives begun in phase one as well as; improving the “human capital” of the Justice Sector, introducing new human resources mechanisms, the fostering of a sense of “legal fraternity” among the judiciary, the increased provision of legal libraries for legal professionals, the construction of adequate physical infrastructure, and the increased delivery of legal aid to defendants.

The National Priority Program Law and Justice for All was introduced at the Kabul Conference in July 2010. While the programme is intended to further prioritise the justice sector reform activities contained in the National Justice Program (NJP), it is also designed to focus on the parts of the legal system that “are most relevant to the way citizens experience the legal system and the rule of law.” In 2012, Law and Justice for All aims to build on ongoing activities in the area, such as Pay and Grading Reform and Priority Reform and Restructuring (see Public Administration Reform, in addition to new measures such as the setting up of a National Ministers Court and the expansion of Anti Corruption Tribunals.

Kabul Conference and Kabul Process 

The Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan took place on 20 July 2010. Around the time of the Kabul Conference, the term “Kabul Process” was introduced and applied retroactively to signify the governance reform and peace agenda that was foreshadowed in President Hamid Karzai’s second inaugural speech in November 2009.Co-chaired by President Karzai and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Kabul Conference was the first of the many international conferences on Afghanistan to actually be held in the country and was attended by international leaders and foreign ministers. Emphasising Afghan leadership and ownership, its Communiqué states that the Kabul Process is a reaffirmation of the Afghan government (GoA)’s commitment to “improve security, governance and economic opportunity for its citizens.” It also reiterates the international community’s commitment to “support the transition to Afghan leadership and its intention to provide security and economic assistance.”

The London Conference in January 2010 and the National Consultative Peace Jirga in June 2010 (NCPJ) were key staging posts for establishing the terms, frameworks and plans agreed at the Kabul Conference. These include:

  • The transfer of security responsibilities from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Coalition Forces (CF) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by 2014 (see Transition);

  • The development of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP); and

  • A reprioritised and restructured Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

International participants endorsed the Inteqal (transition) paper, the GoA’s commitment to a phased exercise of security responsibility in all provinces by the end of 2014. To support this transition, the GoA pledged to progressively enhance the quality and quantity of the ANSF, while international participants reiterated their commitments to support the training, equipping and financing of the ANSF. Participants also endorsed in principle the APRP and reiterated their commitment to support the programme through the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund.

Within the framework of a prioritised ANDS, the GoA pledged to focus on reform of service delivery institutions, policy decisions and the implementation of the National Priority Programs (NPPs). Participants welcomed the GoA’s cluster approach, an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism intended to help prioritise and implement the ANDS. The GoA committed to further prioritise and strengthen the NPPs, including their implementation matrices for intended results and budgets. In a bid to ensure effective management and accountability, the plans articulate measurable six- and 12-month, as well as three- and five-year targets.

In line with the London Conference Communiqué, participants restated their support for channelling at least 50 percent of development aid through the Afghan Government’s core budget within two years. However, it was emphasised that this commitment was dependent on the GoA implementing reforms to strengthen its public financial management systems, reduce corruption, improve budget execution, and increase revenue collection (in January 2012, the Ministry of Finance reported that this target was unlikely to be met). Additionally, international participants expressed their readiness to progressively align their development assistance behind the NPPs with the goal of achieving 80 percent alignment within the next two years.

To oversee the implementation of the prioritised ANDS, the GoA and the international community stated their intent to meet at ministerial level on an annual basis to review mutual progress on commitments and to consider new Afghan priorities as part of the Kabul Process. Participants agreed that the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) would meet every four months (supported by Standing Committees and their sub-committees) to monitor and assess progress. Additionally, the Kabul Process was set to include annual meetings between the GoA, the international community, and civil society (including service-providing organisations). As of January 2012, none had been held, though international conferences such as Bonn 2011 have provided opportunities for civil society to engage with both the GoA and the international community.

Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) 

The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) was established in 2002 as a funding mechanism used by international donors to channel their contributions to Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Afghanistan, particularly the Afghan National Police (ANP), the salaries for which are the Fund’s largest outlay. The Fund is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) as government partner responsible for its implementation; a Management Support Unit (MSU) supports the Ministry in executing project activities that cannot be handled by existing government mechanisms.

Since the Fund’s inception, five phases have been completed. LOTFA Phase V ran from September 2008 until December 2010 with a total budget of approximately $553 million. Phase V placed renewed focus on the institutional development of the MoI by enhancing engagement with MoI planning and decision-making processes. It also made efforts to strengthen public confidence in the ANP to restore stability and maintain law and order.

LOTFA Phase VI began in January 2011 and is slated to run until March 2013 with a total estimated budget of approximately $1.4 billion. Under Phase VI, LOTFA’s activities are clustered around three pillars:

  1. Police and prisons staff remuneration, and investment in police infrastructure;

  2. Capacity development and institutional reform of the MoI at the policy, organisational and individual level, as well as gender mainstreaming; and

  3. The introduction of community policing through the polis-i-mardumi initiative (this is unconnected to the Afghan Local Police).

LOTFA’s key achievements include: ensuring regularity and transparency in police remuneration through the development of modern payroll technologies, with 99 percent of police employees covered under the Electronic Payroll System and 82 percent under the Electronic Fund Transfer System; sustained capacity and institutional reform of the MoI through identified capacity development programmes; training 300 police trainers in gender and human rights concepts; helping to recruit over 1,000 female police officers over the past three years and creating a Gender Mainstreaming Unit in the MoI; and building effective police-community partnerships for more accountable local police service delivery. As of January 2012, the number of female police officers in the ANP stood at 1,300, around 1 percent.

LOFTA’s largest donors are the United States, Japan and the European Union. LOTFA is led by a Steering Committee co-chaired by the MoI and the United Nations Development Programme, and includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and donor partners. UNDP regularly conducts institutional monitoring and evaluation to oversee the quality, quantity and timeliness of progress toward results delivery as identified in the Fund’s Results and Resource Framework and Annual Work Plan.

Laws in Afghanistan

Formal sources of law in Afghanistan are: 1) Islamic law; 2) the 2004 Constitution; 3) codes, decrees and legislation; 4) international treaties and covenants; and 5) various types of regulations and orders. No law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of Islam (pursuant to Article 3 of the Constitution), and many of the country’s codes and statutes reflect Islamic legal principles.

There have been a number of constitutions in Afghanistan. The constitutions of 1923, 1931, 1964, 1977, 1987 (amended in 1990), and 2004 were all ratified by either Parliaments or Loya Jirgas, while interim constitutions were drafted in 1979, 1980, and 1992, but never ratified. As elsewhere, Afghan legislation must not be in conflict with the Constitution. New legislation and amendments to existing laws must be adopted by the National Assembly and signed by the President, after which they are published (in both Dari and Pashto) in the Official Gazette (OG, or Rasmi Jaridah) by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). While many regulations must be published in the OG, those that affect only the internal operations of a particular ministry need not be sent to the National Assembly for adoption or to the MoJ for publication. Since November 1963, the OG has been published in a continuously numbered sequence. Before then individual laws were published in individual pamphlet form and keeping track of them was difficult. OG no. 787 from 1999 specifies the manner and requirements of publication and adoption of legislative documents.

There is currently no unified official index of laws, nor any properly functioning system of reporting court cases or decisions (even of the Supreme Court). USAID’s Afghanistan Rule of Law Project (AROLP) scanned a full set of the OG issues and these PDFs are currently available for download from the MoJ website (in Dari and Pashto only— There is also a full-text searchable database of the OG laws (Dari and Pashto only) on the MoJ website. Regulations, rules, charters and decrees cover many important legal areas but are not codified or fully assembled anywhere (although many are published in the OG).

Many international organisations require translations of older or newer laws. Currently, translations are available for some laws at; other (unofficial) translations are also listed in the AREU library catalogue online ( Some ministries make PDFs of relevant legislation available on their website (e.g., tax laws on the Ministry of Finance website—; or laws and regulations relevant to elections on the website of the Independent Election Commission—

There is no established citation style for Afghan laws. To fully identify a post-1963 law it is best to cite the OG number as well as the date (preferably in both local and international date systems), e.g., Law of Procurement (Official Gazette no. 865, 3 Aqrab SY1384 = 25 October 2005). For pre- 1963 laws the full title and full dates of publication are needed, e.g. Usul Asasi “Constitution” (8 Aqrab SY 1310 = 31 October 1931).

London Conference 2006

On 31 January–1 February 2006, the government of the United Kingdom hosted the first London Conference on Afghanistan, a major international summit co-chaired by the UN and the Government of Afghanistan. Attended by over 200 delegates from 70 countries and international organisations, the Conference served as a forum to discuss the next phase of Afghanistan’s development. It had three aims: to formally launch the Afghanistan Compact, to allow the Afghan government to present the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (see ANDS) to the international community, and to ensure that the government of Afghanistan had adequate resources to meet its domestic ambitions and international commitments.

The Conference marked the completion of the Bonn process and the end of the first stage of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban development, which saw the reestablishment of key political institutions and a democratically-elected national government. The Conference also allowed members of the international community to reaffirm their political and financial commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

London Conference 2010

A second London Conference on Afghanistan took place on 28 January 2010. Over 60 countries were represented at the event, which was co-hosted by President Hamid Karzai, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to “fully align military and civilian resources behind an Afghan-led political strategy.” The conference aimed to move the international effort forward in three key areas: security, governance and development, and regional support. Of these, the most significant commitments were made in the areas of security, and governance and development.

Conference participants committed to providing support to the phased growth of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) to reach 171,600 and 134,000 personnel by October 2011, respectively. This boost to Afghan security forces was closely aligned with plans for a phased transition to Afghan security leadership on a province-by-province basis, which were then developed preceding the Kabul Conference in July. 

Central to these efforts was the Afghan government’s commitment to reinvigorate Afghan-led reintegration efforts by developing and implementing an effective, inclusive, transparent and sustainable national peace and reintegration programme (APRP). This included plans to convene a Peace Jirga before the 2010 Kabul Conference and the international community’s commitment to establish a Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund to finance the programme. 

The Afghan government presented a vision for “more coherent and better coordinated development.” This involved aligning key ministries into development and governance clusters, refining the Afghanistan National Development Strategy priorities, and preparing details for presentation at Kabul Conference. Participants endorsed the Afghan government’s ambition for 50 percent of development aid to be delivered through the National Budget within next two years. However, it was also noted that this support was conditional on the government’s progress in strengthening public financial management systems and reducing corruption.

Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA)

The Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) was established jointly by the Afghan government and the donor community in 2003. It provides funds to microfinance institutions (MFIs) that offer small loans and other financial services to poor and vulnerable Afghans, who need support to open or expand small but viable businesses. MISFA continues to work closely with its MFI partners in strengthening their internal systems and supporting their individual efforts toward achieving their growth potentials and portfolio quality objectives.

Since March 2006, MISFA has been registered as an independent, not-for-profit Afghan institution with an independent Board of Directors comprised of representatives from the government and the private sector, as well as international microfinance experts. It is the first microfinance apex facility in Afghanistan, pooling diverse donor funding mechanisms into streamlined, flexible support to microfinance providers.

MISFA is working with seven microfinance providers, including a bank, with a collective network of 244 branches in 22 provinces. They serve more than 230,000 active borrowers, 75 percent of whom are women. To date, MISFA’s partners have disbursed a cumulative total of 1.9 million loans worth approximately $1.1 billion. The current gross loan outstanding to borrowers is around $115 million, while the average loan size is $499. MISFA’s partners together employ more than 3,000 Afghans, around 37 percent of whom are women. According to an Initial Baseline/Impact Study of Microfinance conducted in 2007 by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, each microfinance loan supports or creates 1.5 employment opportunities in Afghanistan.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

In 2004, Afghanistan’s transitional government declared its intention to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit. MDGs are intended to act as a framework to guide the development of national policies and reconstruction priorities around the world, with benchmarks set for 2015 and 2020. The MDGs are incorporated into the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS, p. 15) and the Afghanistan Compact. The Afghan government has also added a ninth goal for its own development initiatives: enhancing security. The nine Afghanistan MDGs are:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;

  2. Achieve universal primary education;

  3. Promote gender equality and empower women;

  4. Reduce child mortality;

  5. Improve maternal health;

  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;

  7. Ensure environmental sustainability;

  8. Develop a global partnership for development; and

  9. Enhance security.

In June 2005, the Afghan government held a conference in Kabul to discuss how to meet the MDG benchmarks and determine MDG progress. The meeting resulted in the “Afghanistan’s 2020 Vision” report, in which most of the 2015 targets were revised to be met by 2020, recognising capacity constraints and security impediments on the country’s development.

In 2010, the Afghan government published a report detailing its progress in meeting Afghanistan’s nine MDGs. The report noted that while progress was variable in the different goal areas, the country had made improvements in reducing infant and under-five mortality rates, in bringing school-age children back to school, and in reducing the gender gap in certain spheres of life. However, for many of the areas under review, the report cited a lack of data as a serious impediment for monitoring progress or even understanding the potential extent of the challenge; for example, the report states that “no reliable estimate of the spread of HIV/AIDS can be made.”

Most critically, the report noted that “there is little evidence that most targets of Global Partnership for Development are achievable.” Citing a need for “better aid,” the report claimed that a lack of predictability in donor financing, the gap between donor commitments and actual expenditure, and donor investments not being aligned to MDG priorities were problems in meeting the MDGs. As nearly all of Afghanistan’s development budget is aid-financed, the report claims that “aid to Afghanistan has been far too prescriptive and driven by donor preferences rather than responsive to Afghan needs.”

Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA)

The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), the world’s largest mine action programme, was established in 1989 to make Afghanistan safe from the threat of mines and other explosive remnants of war. Oversight and coordination of MAPA is gradually shifting toward national ownership. The Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA), which works as a coordination body for MAPA, is working together with the Afghan government’s Department of Mine Clearance (DMC) to develop strategy and implement and monitor MAPA activities and targets. MACCA is a United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) project contracted through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

Together, MACCA and the DMC coordinate nationwide MAPA activities through seven Area Mine Action Centres in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Gardez and Jalalabad. These regional offices, staffed entirely by Afghans, are responsible for regional coordination and oversight of mine action activities. MAPA Implementing Partners (IPs) are national and international NGOs that carry out activities such as mine clearance and survey, mine risk education, victim assistance, capacity-building, advocacy, monitoring and training. In addition, MAPA works closely with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled and the Ministry of Public Health to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors.

At the end of September 2011, 6,216 identified hazards remained in Afghanistan, affecting 602 square kilometres and impacting 1,980 communities throughout the country. During 2011, MAPA conducted mine clearance in 70 communities, clearing or cancelling 324 minefields and 76 battle areas, and destroying more than 7,793 anti-personnel (AP) mines, 265 anti-tank (AT) mines,  and 182,663 explosive remnants of war (ERW).

MAPA works to meet the goal of the Ottawa Convention to clear all AP mines in Afghanistan by 2013, to provide mine risk education (MRE) and to assist mine survivors. However, the Ottawa Convention obliges countries to remove AP mines, and not AT mines or ERWs. Despite this,  MACCA considers it highly important that other hazards are not forgotten while the focus is on meeting Ottawa Convention obligations. The Afghan state may seek an extension of its deadline of 2013 to complete the clearance of all known AP sites.

Led by the Ministry of Education, MRE programmes continue around the country and approximately 200,000 Afghans receive MRE trainings every quarter. Currently, an average of 22 Afghans are killed or injured by landmines and other ERW every month.

Mineral Resources

Beneath Afghanistan lie significant mineral reserves. A June 2010 geological survey conducted by the Pentagon estimated the value of these deposits at $1 trillion, though other estimates  have reached as high as $3 trillion. The Afghan government and the international community hope this industry has the potential to drive both economic growth and infrastructure development. The Ministry of Mines has estimated that by 2024 mineral extraction will be supplying between 42-4 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP.

The government has published two documents on the mineral resources industries: The Oil, Gas and Mining Sector Vision and the National Extractive Industries Excellence Program. These set out its strategy for a dynamic, transparent mining sector that will help stabilise the Afghan economy, reduce reliance on international aid and have wide-ranging positive downstream effects on the Afghan people. The World Bank is assisting the GoA with this process, currently running the Second Sustainable Development of Natural Resources Project, a five-year project worth $52 million due to run until June 2016.

However, development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth faces considerable difficulties. Growth of the extractive industries will inevitably involve making environmental compromises. Secondly, the profitable extraction of mineral resources will require considerable internal development of Afghanistan’s infrastructure. The World Bank estimates that “a major mine developed in the country will have some of the longest lead-times, capital requirements, and high operating costs of any global investment.” Previous large scale infrastructure projects, such as the trans- Afghanistan gas pipeline, have faced insurmountable difficulties, resulting in indefinite delay. Thirdly, the exploitation of mineral reserves and the process of tendering for the right to do this are both vulnerable to fraud and corruption. With Afghanistan ranked 176 out of 178 countries on the 2010 Global Corruption Perceptions Index, the fear remains that Afghanistan’s mineral wealth could be co-opted, and the Afghan people denied its benefits. To prevent this, the  Afghan government endorsed the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in March 2009, although allegations of corruption surfaced the same year related to the largest mineral resource tender concluded so far, that of the Aynak copper deposit.

As of December 2011, two tenders have been granted to foreign companies to begin extraction in Afghanistan. In October 2007 a tender for the Aynak copper deposit was successfully negotiated. The successful bidder, Metallurgical Corps of China (MCC), has already paid the GoA $80.8 million, the first tranche of a total payment of $808 million to develop the concession. The GoA will also be paid royalties on a sliding scale based on the world copper price. As part of their bid MCC have agreed to build a copper smelting plant, producing 250,000 tons of copper per year. The construction of 900km of rail infrastructure and a 400 Megawatt coal-fired power plant are also included in the bid. However, difficulties in development of this additional infrastructure mean that extraction is unlikely to start prior to 2014.

In November 2011, tenders for the Hagijak iron ore deposits were granted to a consortium led by Steel Authority of India (SAI). SAI have stated that they plan to invest $11 billion in Afghanistan, both to develop extraction and to build a steel plant capable of producing 6 million tons of steel per year. Exploitation of the concession will also involve the construction of rail infrastructure and a power plant.

In December 2011, the GoA continued its drive to grow the mineral exploitation sector, opening the tender process for four large copper and gold concessions in the provinces of Herat, Sar-i-Pul, Ghazni and Badakhshan, and signing its first international oil production agreement in several decades. Agreed with China National Petroleum Corps (CNPC), this deal allows the development of oil blocks in the Amu Darya basin, in the provinces of Sar-i-Pul and Faryab.

National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP)

The National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP) is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported programme implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). It was launched in 2002 as one of the Afghan government’s National Priority Programs (NPPs), defined in the National Development Framework (NDF).

The first NABDP aimed to promote urgent recovery and longer-term development in identified priority areas of rural development while building government capacity to lead and coordinate participatory approaches to development across the country. NABDP Phase II was launched in February 2006 and was intended to serve as a key coordination mechanism for government and UN-supported rural development programmes. It focused more on institutional development, capacity-building, and intersectoral coordination at the regional and provincial levels, as well as the promotion of regional and local economic regeneration activities.

The third and current phase, which began in July 2009, is based on the third pillar of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS): social and economic development. It is currently budgeted for $294 million until June 2014. NABDP Phase III has three main components:

  • Local Governance and District Development Assembly (DDA) Institutionalisation: following in the footsteps of Community Development Councils (see NSP, p. 61), the NABDP will continue the institutionalisation of DDAs to achieve full national coverage.

  • Sustainable Livelihoods through Rural Infrastructure Services: This component aims to fill gaps in physical infrastructure to promote agricultural productivity and rural economic development. This includes farm-to-market roads, irrigation works, food storage facilities and local markets.

  • Stabilisation through Enhanced Economic Livelihoods: NABDP will contribute toward “a more holistic resolution” in conflict and post-conflict environments through “innovative operating platforms [which] encompass a number of economic generation models and schemes all of which should have a stabilizing influence on local communities.” This component also promotes alternative livelihood opportunities for farmers dependent on poppy cultivation. 

National Budget

The Afghan government produces a national budget each year. This budget is an estimate of the cost of providing services for that year, and specifies how these services are to be paid for. The national budget for the SY1390 (2011-2012) fiscal year is the equivalent of approximately $4.782 billion. Unlike in previous years, this figure represents the core budget only, excluding development funds to be spent outside of government channels.

Expenditure is classified according to its purpose. The operating budget is money spent on the day-to-day running costs of the government, such as the salaries of civil servants, teachers and policemen; the running costs of offices and other operational premises; and the purchase of equipment and machinery such as computers and vehicles. Most of this expenditure is funded from taxation and other domestic sources. The operating budget in SY1390 is $3.207 billion.

Alongside the operating budget is the country’s internal or “core” development budget. Managed by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) according to the government’s own accounting procedures, this is money spent by the government on expanding and improving service provision. Most of this expenditure is in the form of development projects—building new schools, constructing new roads, installing new water supply and sanitation schemes, enhancing the capacity of human resources, etc. The core development budget for SY1390 is $1.575 billion.

The “external” development budget is money provided by donors that does not pass through the government and is distributed directly by donors to their contracting partners. Due to a recent upgrade of the Development Assistance Database (DAD, p. 38) the MoF was unable to provide a figure for the SY1390 “external” budget. In SY1389 the figure was $4.112 billion. For SY1390 the MoF expects it to be lower, in line with the country-wide reduction of aid. The final total of the SY1390 “external” budget will be calculated at the Development Cooperation Dialogue Meeting planned for March 2012.

The overall development budget is funded by international donors. At the 2010 London Conference, they pledged to channel at least 50 percent of development aid through the Afghan government by January 2012. This pledge was reiterated at the Kabul Conference, but was dependent on government capacity to adequately manage the money. In January 2012, the MoF stated their belief that this target would not be achieved by the agreed deadline.

Producing the annual budget is a lengthy and complex process. Under the Afghan Constitution, responsibility for managing this process is vested in the MoF. The annual budget preparation cycle takes about one year and MoF sets and monitors the timetable that governs it. Budgeting activity always starts from the national plan—the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). This is a five-year programme setting out what the government, with the assistance of the donor community, wishes to achieve over that period, and specifying the main priority areas. The cost of delivering the plan, and the amounts and sources of income required to fund it, is projected in the medium-term financial and budget framework (MTBF), which in turn informs the annual budget-setting process.

The MoF sets the rules for the preparation of the annual budget by issuing a series of budget circulars to line (service-providing) ministries. These specify the budget rules and provide expenditure ceilings for both operating and development budgets. The line ministries draw up their own budget proposals that they submit to the MoF. The budget estimates from all the ministries are then consolidated into the National Budget Document (NBD), which, once approved by the Cabinet, is presented to the National Assembly (NA). The NA discusses the budget for up to 45 days, and then “appropriates” (approves) the necessary funds.

In 2009, the MoF introduced a number of initiatives to improve national budgeting, and support the principles of good governance. Among these was the introduction of policy-based budgeting linking ministry spending directly to ANDS requirements in the form of programme budgets. The MoF has also taken a number of steps to assist line ministries by providing technical support, simplifying budget procedures, and allowing extra time for budget preparation. The ultimate objective is to enable line ministries to improve the quality and coverage of the services they provide to the people of Afghanistan.

National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ)

The National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ) took place in Kabul from 2-4 June 2010 and brought together approximately 1,600 delegates from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Held in the same symbolic tent in which Afghanistan’s post-Taliban constitution was agreed, the NCPJ was intended to be a platform for the government to consult the population on proposals for dialogue and reconciliation with insurgent actors. 

The NCPJ was “consultative” and thus carried no legal weight. It culminated in the endorsement of the government’s peace and reintegration initiative (see APRP) and also fulfilled an Afghan government commitment made at the London Conference 2010. 

The agenda was directed by President Karzai and attendees included governors, parliamentarians, district leaders, members of the higher ulema council, civil society, business, Kuchis, the disabled, refugees and women. After concerns were raised, the number of women participants was increased to around 400, constituting approximately 20 percent of participants. The Taliban and other insurgent groups were not represented, nor were some opposition politicians. 

National Development Framework (NDF)

The National Development Framework (NDF) was drawn up by the Afghan Interim Authority in 2002 as a roadmap for the development and reconstruction process in Afghanistan. It identified 16 National Development Programmes (NDPs) and six cross-cutting issues under three broad pillars: 1) human capital and social protection, 2) physical infrastructure, and 3) an enabling environment for development. The NDF also identified 12 National Priority Programmes (NPPs) that were meant to be major policy priorities for the government.

The 16 NDPs were overseen by corresponding Consultative Groups. These operated as a forum within which the details of reconstruction and development projects in each sector were designed and discussed. Each CG then implemented its sector’s plans by proposing a Public Investment Programme (PIP) for the National Development Budget. In addition, Advisory Groups existed for each of the six cross-cutting issues.

The NDF, under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, remained the primary basis for government and donor planning until January 2006, when it was replaced by the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (see ANDS).

National Human Development Report (NHDR)

National Human Development Reports (NHDRs) are based on the human development concept, which emphasises the diversity of human needs, such as income, access to knowledge, nutrition and health, security, political and cultural freedom, and participation in the community. Since 1992, more than 500 NHDRs have been produced, primarily by developing countries with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support.

Afghanistan’s first NHDR was released in February 2005, entitled “Security with a Human Face,” which focused on the relationship between security and development. Produced by Kabul University and UNDP on behalf of the Afghan government, the report was based on a number of sectoral and thematic background papers commissioned from national researchers.

The second NHDR, released in late 2007, “Bridging Modernity and Tradition,” was produced by the UNDP-sponsored Centre for Policy and Human Development (CPHD) at Kabul University. It focused on the linkages between rule of law and human development, highlighting key challenges to the expansion of the rule of law in Afghanistan and proposing approaches to bridge modernity and tradition in the search for social justice.

The third NHDR, published in late 2010, is entitled “The Neglected Front of Development: Water Security and the Crisis in Sanitation.” The paper explores how low access to safe water, poor sanitation, inequitable sharing of water resources, and extreme vulnerability to water-related climate shocks go largely ignored in the face of internal power struggles and the global security agenda. The report makes the case that water security is integral to human development in Afghanistan and to prospects for peace.

National Solidarity Programme (NSP)

The National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is the flagship development programme of the Afghan government. Known in Dari as Hambastag-i-Milli and in Pashtu as Milli Paiwastoon, the NSP helps build trust and connect rural communities to the central government with the bottom-up delivery of services and the promotion of grassroots democracy through:

  • Developing local governance at the village level through the creation of democratically elected councils; and

  • Improving access to basic infrastructure and socio-economic development opportunities in
    rural communities across Afghanistan.

The NSP seeks to attain these objectives through three core programme elements:

  1. Facilitating the creation of Community Development Councils (CDCs), democratically elected representative decision-making bodies involving both male and female community members that help guide development planning and prioritisation at the village level;

  2. Providing direct block grant transfers to CDCs to implement community-prioritised socioeconomic development projects (the average block grant is $33,500, with a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $60,000), along with providing capacity-building for CDCs to manage resources and facilitate development and basic governance functions; and

  3. Establishing linkages between CDCs and other development and governance institutions.

The programme is implemented by communities themselves with the help of NSP Facilitating Partners (FPs), which include 29 international and national NGOs (including UN Habitat).

By developing the ability of Afghan communities to identify, plan, manage and monitor their own development projects, the NSP hopes to create sustainable, grass-roots forms of local  governance, rural reconstruction and poverty alleviation. Communities are empowered to make decisions and manage resources during all stages of the project cycle and it is hoped that these communities will collectively contribute to increased human security.

The NSP was conceived in 2002-03 by the World Bank in consultation with the then Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA, p. 10), including the Minister of Finance and Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. As of late December 2011, the NSP has covered over 75 percent of the rural population, establishing more than 28,243 CDCs in 357 of Afghanistan’s almost 400 districts and provincial centres. Since its inception, the programme has disbursed more than $914 million in grants to rural communities, which have financed approximately 60,386 communityprioritised subprojects. More than 47,524 of these subprojects have been completed, focusing on transportation (25 percent of projects), water supply and sanitation (24 percent), irrigation (18 percent), power supply (13 percent), education (12 percent), livelihoods (five percent), and other sectors (three percent). In many remote parts of the country, the NSP is the only functioning government development programme.

The first phase of the NSP was completed in March 2007 and covered 17,300 communities. A second phase, NSP II (April 2007-September 2011) covered an additional 6,000 communities, thus bringing total NSP coverage to 23,200 communities. The Afghan government has designed a third phase of the program, NSP III (2010-2015), in consultation with the World Bank, NSP donors, FPs, community members and other stakeholders. While NSP III introduces new components, it remains a community-driven development programme with the overall objective of building, strengthening and maintaining CDCs as effective institutions for local governance and socioeconomic development.

NSP III consists of three components: First, NSP III will support the completion of the nation wide rollout of initial block grants to the approximately 16,000 communities not yet covered, bringing the total number of communities to around 39,200. Second, a second round of “repeater” grants will be provided to 12,000 communities that have successfully used their initial grant and are maintaining completed subprojects. (To receive repeater grants, these communities must also hold new elections and update their Community Development Plan). Third, NSP III will focus on capacity-building and improving the institutional quality, sustainability and governance of CDCs and enhance their ability to engage with other institutions as gateways for local development activities. NSP III programme costs for five years are estimated to be $1.5 billion, taking into account a minimum contribution of ten percent of the block grant provided as cash or in kind by communities themselves. Block grants represent approximately 70 percent of the total programme cost.

The responsibility for oversight and supervision of the NSP lies with Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). The project is administered by the World Bank, whose task team also provides implementation support to the project.

To date, NSP implementation (NSP I and II) has received $1.1 billion funding support, including $395 million from international development assistance grants, $619 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF, p. 22), $41 million from the Japan Social Development Fund, and an additional $113 million through bilateral donors. Contributors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

NGO Legislation and Code of Conduct

Since 2002 there have been two major initiatives to clarify what is, and what is not, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organisation (NGO), and to strengthen the accountability and transparency of NGO activities in Afghanistan. The first initiative was legislation to determine what an NGO is and what are permissible NGO activities, set criteria for the establishment and internal governance of NGOs, clarify reporting requirements for NGOs, enable profit-making bodies currently registered as NGOs to establish themselves as businesses, and enhance the transparency and accountability of NGOs. The second initiative was an NGO Code of Conduct, designed by the NGO community working in Afghanistan as a self-governing mechanism to ensure commitment to transparency, accountability, and professional standards from all signatories.

In consultation with NGOs and with technical assistance from the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), an initial draft for the NGO legislation was presented to the Ministry of Justice in 2003. NGOs called for the timely finalisation of the legislation at the Afghanistan Development Fora in both April 2004 and April 2005, and the NGO legislation was eventually passed in June 2005. This legislation provided a means by which nonprofit NGOs can be differentiated from the many contractors registered as NGOs (between 2001 and 2004 around 2,400 entities had registered with the government as NGOs, despite the lack of any official criteria for such a registration).

Shortly after the first NGO legislation draft was prepared for the government in July 2003, 120 NGOs participated in a workshop to discuss the content of the NGO Code of Conduct. The text of the Code was jointly drafted by the four major NGO coordination bodies in Afghanistan: Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), Afghan NGOs Coordinating Bureau (ANCB), Southern and Western Afghanistan and Balochistan Association for Coordination (SWABAC), and Afghan Women’s Network (AWN). A Code of Conduct Secretariat was established under the auspices of ACBAR to coordinate and finalise the draft, which was completed in May 2004. The NGO community publicly launched the Afghanistan NGO Code of Conduct on 30 May 2005. In order to be a signatory to the Code of Conduct, NGOs are required to submit several documents to prove their NGO status, including legal registration documentation, coordination body membership, financial records, and proof of reporting to the relevant ministry. The NGO Code of Conduct has approximately 100 Afghan and international signatories. 

By law, NGOs are obliged to register with the Ministry of Economy and submit details of their assets and expenditures, biannual reports, and annual financial audit reports of their implemented projects to the government. The NGO Department at the Ministry of Economy and their website (listed above) can provide more information on NGO registration and reporting requirements. 

Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat (OAA/CMS)

The Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat (OAA) is an executive-level coordinating, facilitating and advising body that supports the President of Afghanistan in his role as the Head of State and the Head of Government/Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Originally set up in the 1950s under King Zahir Shah, the OAA’s structure was modified in 2002; the Council of Ministers Secretariat and the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation were established as two separate directorates in 2003 to ensure systematic support to the Council of Ministers (COM) meetings. The OAA, as a hub for government institutions, mainly acts as the policy coordinator between the three pillars (executive, legislative and judiciary) of the Government of Afghanistan. Its other functions include monitoring the implementation of the Presidential decrees and the decisions of the Council of Ministers. It also provides administrative, logistical and financial support to the offices of the President, Vice Presidents, and Advisors to the President. The OAA also prepares the Government Achievement Report to the National Assembly at the end of each fiscal year to meet the mandate under Article 75, Clause 6 of the Constitution. Other functions of the OAA include reviewing and analysing all proposals aiming to be submitted to the COM, preparing agendas and minutes of Cabinet meetings, and facilitating the Council with required tasks. The OAA facilitates convention of all the regular and emergency meetings of the Cabinet as well as those of the economic, sociocultural and legal sub-committees.

Although an executive body, the OAA is designed to be impartial. It does not create policy, but rather coordinates policy development. The Office and Secretariat review policies drafted by ministries and ensure that these comply with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), address cross-cutting initiatives, and contain a clear, accurate budget. Once the OAA approves the draft policy, it is passed on to the President and Cabinet for final review and possible approval. If a policy is approved, the OAA monitors and evaluates its implementation.

Paris Conference

The International Conference in Support of Afghanistan, more widely known as the Paris Conference, was held on 12 June 2008 and was co-chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. This major international meeting formally launched the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The conference was intended to be a show of “partnership” from the Afghan government and the international community “to work more closely together under Afghan leadership” to support the ANDS, as stated in the resulting declaration. Approximately $20 billion was pledged to finance the implementation of the ANDS, including support for the preparation of elections in 2009 and 2010.

The declaration from the conference reaffirmed that the Afghanistan Compact would remain the basis for the development of Afghanistan, and it specified the priority areas of strengthening institutions and economic growth, particularly in agriculture and energy. The conference also resulted in statements on a renewed commitment to strengthening the effectiveness and quality of aid as a shared responsibility. The international community agreed to provide increased resources in a more consistent, coordinated way, while the Afghan government promised to step up economic and political reform. 

Policy Analysis and Development Directorate (PADD)

The Policy Analysis and Development Directorate (PADD), in the Policy Department in the Ministry of Finance, aims to provide the Afghan government with high-quality research and policy analysis to support an evidence-based approach to governance. Established in June 2009 under the direct supervision of the Chief Economic Adviser and Minister of Finance, the PADD identifies and analyses gaps and barriers to the implementation of government policies, including the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). It is hoped that the establishment of this in-house capacity will enhance policymaking, programme development, implementation and monitoring. 

To achieve these objectives, the PADD is expected to:

  • Conduct specific policy studies related to national socioeconomic development and governance reform, public financial management/budget reform, procurement, customs and public revenue;

  • Review the service delivery of Ministry of Finance institutions at the central and provincial level;

  • Contribute policy proposals for the stabilisation of the financial system;

  • Produce major reports and reviews on a wide range of development issues in all sectors including good governance in the Ministry of Finance;

  • Produce research and analysis of current and potential future policies related to the implementation of the ANDS;

  • Support to the analysing and reporting on progress of ANDS implementation, related to the 22 National Priority Programs and Provincial Development Plans;

  • Review potential reforms to enable effective on-budget aid, as promised at the Kabul Conference;

  • Exchange knowledge and facilitate public policy dialogue with key partners from the academic/policy research community, private sector and civil society;

  • Conduct studies to enhance and facilitate private sector investment; and,

  • Draft a guideline for the institutionalisation of policies.

The main beneficiaries of PADD’s work include: the Deputy Ministry of Finance (Policy) itself, the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Issues, the Government Coordination Committee, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), the Minister of Finance, and the Cluster Coordinating Ministers.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are designed to provide a framework of operation for donors and governments of poor countries. To qualify for debt relief and other concessions, low-income countries must produce a PRSP for some donors. The PRSP format is flexible, but it is based on a number of set principles. A PRSP should:

  • Be country-driven and owned, with the input of civil society and the private sector

  • Have results oriented to benefit the poor

  • Be comprehensive in recognising the multidimensional nature of poverty

  • Be partnership-oriented (developed in cooperation with bilateral, multilateral and nongovernmental actors)

  • Be based on a long-term perspective for poverty reduction

Interim PRSPs (I-PRSPs) are developed by countries that are not yet ready to develop a full PRSP. At the Berlin Meeting in 2001, Afghanistan agreed to prepare a PRSP, with an I-PRSP due in June 2005. At the April 2005 Afghanistan Development Forum, it was decided that the development of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) would meet the benchmarks of a PRSP process. The Interim ANDS, which was launched in January 2006 after a nine-month preparation period moved the country toward the achievement of a full PRSP. The full ANDS was finalised in April 2008 and submitted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as Afghanistan’s PRSP. 

Provincial Development Plan (PDP) and Provincial Strategic Planning

Aimed at ensuring broad consensus on development priorities in Afghanistan, the creation of a Provincial Development Plan (PDP) for each of the country’s 34 provinces was initiated by the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The plans were the result of subnational consultations with local communities organised in every province to identify priorities and proposals for projects. Subsequent consultations were held with representatives from provincial administrations, civil society, and donor organisations to ensure the plans were aligned with the strategies of relevant government ministries. Updated annually, the plans cover key sectors: infrastructure and natural resources, economic governance and private sector development, agriculture and rural development, education, health, social protection, governance, security,  and rule of law/human rights. According to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), the PDP process is among the efforts made to have provincial planning and budgeting performed by the provinces, rather than for the provinces (by central ministries in Kabul).

The IDLG has also begun a process of Provincial Strategic Planning (PSP) based on an assessment of the long-term strategic development issues in each province. These plans are created in a participatory manner, consulting all relevant line ministries and other stakeholders. This is a lengthy process, taking six to eight months per province. Pilot plans have been completed in Balkh, Bamiyan, Herat, Nangarhar and Laghman. The IDLG plans to begin rolling out the PSP process across all remaining provinces during 2012.

Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are small teams of both military and civilian staff located in bases; PRTs support the implementation of development priorities throughout the country. They are intended to facilitate reconstruction and provide security for assistance  efforts at the provincial level. The concept was first proposed by Coalition Forces (CF, p. 32) and the United States embassy in mid-2002 during discussions about shifting from Operation Enduring Freedom’s Phase III (combat phase) to Phase IV (reconstruction phase). The establishment of PRTs was officially announced and endorsed by President Karzai in November 2002.

PRTs were originally established by CF. However, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) began taking over and establishing new PRTs in the North and West of Afghanistan in 2003 after an October 2003 UN Security Council resolution expanded ISAF’s mandate beyond Kabul. Command of PRTs in the South and East was transferred to ISAF in 2006, leaving ISAF in charge of all PRTs in Afghanistan.

The objective of PRTs, as set forth by the PRT Executive Steering Committee, is to:

...assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to extend its authority, in order to facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment in the identified areas of operations, and enable SSR [Security Sector Reform] and reconstruction efforts.

This broad mission statement is not backed by a detailed mandate, and there is no single PRT model. While PRTs are led by individual lead nations, the military components of PRTs fall under the authority of ISAF commanders. The structure and operation of PRTs are influenced by the situation in particular provinces as well as by the philosophies, caveats and instructions of troopcontributing countries.

Each PRT comprises an average of 80 people. Roughly 60 are civilian experts in areas such as engineering or agriculture, and about 20 are civilian specialists working with donor agencies and their Afghan partners. Some PRTs also have agricultural and veterinary advisors, civilian police trainers, governance advisors, development advisors and counter-narcotic specialists. The military personnel provide protection for the civilian component, while the coordination of reconstruction and development activities is the responsibility of civilian PRT staff.

PRT activities are monitored and guided by a PRT Executive Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of Interior and co-chaired by ISAF and CF commanders. The Committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, CF, ISAF, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and troopcontributing countries. A PRT working group supports the work of the Steering Committee.

Some NGO actors are concerned that PRT involvement in humanitarian assistance blurs the distinction between the military and aid sectors. It has also been suggested that the use of PRTs to deliver services leads local people to turn to them rather than the Afghan state for assistance, and they are therefore not a sustainable development solution. Proponents counter that PRTs can enable assistance projects to be carried out in high-risk areas generally inaccessible to aid agencies.

PRTs’ roles are changing as Transition takes place. Tasked with identifying gaps in local governance and development which could threaten the viability of an area’s post-Transition security, PRTs then address these gaps. PRTs’ activities are therefore evolving from direct service delivery to technical assistance and capacity-building. As PRT functions in a province are transferred to the Afghan government along with its security, PRTs in their current form will no longer exist after 2014.

As of January 2012, there are 27 PRTs operating in Afghanistan. Thirteen are provided by the United States (including one joint Australia/US-run PRT in Uruzgan Province), two each by  Germany and Turkey, and one each by New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

Public Administration Reform (PAR)

The Afghan government’s Public Administration Reform (PAR) framework seeks to create an efficient, effective and transparent civil service in Afghanistan. Overseen by the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC) and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), PAR is one of the priorities laid out in the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the Kabul Process.

PAR aims to address a variety of problems, including: the fragmentation of government structures, with many overlapping functions and a lack of coordination among agencies; the often tenuous connection between the centre (Kabul) and the provinces; unclear lines of accountability with weak reinforcement mechanisms; the lack of experienced professional staff with the necessary skills; the lack of robust procedures for recruitment and appointment on merit, which has led to a high level of patronage-based appointments; the need for a pay and grading structure which attracts, retains and motivates civil servants; poor physical infrastructure; and slow and outdated administrative systems.

A central element of PAR has been the Priority Reform and Restructuring (PRR) initiative, aimed at creating administrative capacity in ministries and giving targeted salary increases. PRR was also designed to ensure consistency across ministries that are reforming with the help of different donors.

In 2005, the PAR programme was redesigned and the current framework was developed, shifting the focus away from piecemeal initiatives toward more comprehensive reform involving whole ministries and other independent agencies that are allocated funds directly from the Ministry of Finance (also known as primary budget units); it was also intended to move the reforms from the centre to provinces and districts. This version of the PAR programme is organised into five parts, along functional and programmatic themes: 1) administrative reform; 2) salaries and incentives; 3) civil service management; 4) ensuring and expanding merit-based appointments; and 5) capacity enhancement.

As of December 2011, PAR had been implemented across around 65 percent of both provincial and central government, introducing initiatives such as the Performance and Grading pay system. Similarly, 66 district governors had been recruited through open, merit-based competition. The next generation of the PAR programme is being developed by the Strategy and Policy Unit of the IARCSC’s Civil Service Management Department, and is currently in the consultative phase.

In line with the commitments made at the 2010 Kabul Conference, this initiative will be linked to the scaling up of the Civil Service Reform Project. It is expected that the new PAR will focus on the ongoing efforts to de-politicise civil service recruitment, reform pay and grading, introduce individual and institutional performance appraisal linked to the budgetary cycle, and use this performance appraisal to determine the needs of further capacity-building. The new PAR will also include a gender perspective.

Regional Cooperation

Afghanistan is a member of several regional associations and mechanisms, with a variety of remits and aims:

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): Member states are Afghanistan Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, the Maldives and Nepal. SAARC has 16 stated areas of cooperation, including agriculture, economy and trade, poverty alleviation and security aspects.

Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO): Member states are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Turkey. The stated aim of the ECO is to establish a single market for goods and services.

Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC): Member states are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) initiative, CAREC promotes regional projects in energy, transport and trade facilitation.

Central and South Asian Transport and Trade Forum (CSATTF): Also an ADB initiative, CSATTF aims to promote better integration of Central and South Asian trade routes and reduce barriers to trade in the region.

UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA): Member states are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This programme aims to strengthen sub-regional cooperation in Central Asia and further the region’s integration into the world economy.

Afghanistan also serves in the Contact Group of the Shanghai Cooperation Association, and the
Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) states its desire to have an increasingly active role in
the organisation.

In November 2011, Afghanistan and 13 regional states signed up to the “Istanbul Process,” which aims to enhance regional cooperation in terms of security, economics, counter narcotics and development (see Istanbul Regional Conference, p. 46). At the time it was stated that specific plans to achieve the goals set by the Istanbul Conference would be presented at a meeting in Kabul some time in 2012.

The MoFA states that through regional cooperation, the government seeks to:

  • Improve trade opportunities;

  • Integrate with regional road and rail networks;

  • Become an important partner in regional energy markets;

  • Eliminate the narcotics trade; and

  • Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Security Sector Reform (SSR)

Announced at the February 2003 Tokyo Meeting on the Consolidation of Peace in Afghanistan, the government’s framework for Security Sector Reform (SSR) had five pillars:

  1. The establishment of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

  2. The establishment of the Afghan National Police (ANP).

  3. Justice Sector Reform (JSR).

  4. Counter Narcotics (CN).

  5. Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR, see Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme, and Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme).

Upon completion of the DDR process in June 2005, the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG, see ANBP) commenced, designed to disarm and disband illegal armed groups operating outside central government control. In March 2011 DIAG came to an end and the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP) began.

With the exception of DDR, these pillars corresponded explicitly to the reform and creation of government ministries—respectively the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics. At the Bonn 2001 and Tokyo meetings, five donor countries agreed to each take the lead on a specific SSR pillar: the United States on the ANA, Germany on the ANP (a role later taken over by the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan), Italy on JSR, Japan on DDR, and the United Kingdom on CN. Originally referred to as “lead donors,” these “key partners” were responsible for overseeing their particular sectors, although they were not necessarily contributing the most funds; the “lead donor” or “key partner” terminology is no longer used. Additional donors are involved to various degrees in each area, and the United States is involved to some extent in all of them.

Since 2004, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Office of the NSC have been responsible for overall coordination of SSR activities and established two coordinating committees, both of which included international representation: the Security Sector Reform Coordination Committee and the Security Coordination Forum. A new SSR strategy was referred to in the final Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), which was approved by President Hamid Karzai in  April 2008. However, unlike ANDS, the national security policy and SSR strategy are not publicly available.

In 2009, a non-state security force was created as a short-term solution until effective state security forces are realised. This Afghan Public Protection Program (APPP or AP3) trained local people to serve as community guard forces in unsecured regions. It has since evolved into the Afghan Local Police programme, a major initiative which began in July 2010 (ALP). However, concerns have been raised that community-based self-defence initiatives could undermine state authority and progress made in disarmament.

Southern and Western Afghanistan and Balochistan Association for Coordination (SWABAC)

The Southern and Western Afghanistan and Balochistan Association for Coordination (SWABAC) is a coordination body for Afghan and international NGOs working in southern Afghanistan. Its head office is in Kandahar and it is currently seeking funding to open a sub-office in Kabul. SWABAC was founded in September 1988 by 12 NGOs engaged in relief and rehabilitation work with Afghan refugee villages in Balochistan and communities inside Afghanistan. Membership is open to government-registered NGOs working in southern Afghanistan who show a dedication to coordination and have proof of donor funding, an organisational profile, and are certified by five other NGOs. As of December 2011, SWABAC had 41 members. It holds regular membership meetings, monthly general assembly meetings, and biweekly panel meetings for the advisory committee, as well as meetings on an ad-hoc basis.

SWABAC’s activities fall within three major categories: coordination, advocacy, and capacity-building. SWABAC provides a forum for members to discuss their concerns about policy guidelines for delivering assistance, resource management, and other operational issues, with the ultimate goal of improving coordination among the assistance community in southern Afghanistan.

SWABAC was involved in drafting the NGO Code of Conduct in cooperation with the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), the Afghan NGO Coordination Bureau (ANCB), and the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN, p. 10). On behalf of its member NGOs and as a representative of the southern region, SWABAC played a role in developing both the Agriculture and the Rural Development sectors in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

In 2010, SWABAC participated in the London Conference and contributed to the civil society statements for the National Consultative Peace Jirga and Kabul Conference. SWABAC also participated in an NGO network meeting in Berlin arranged by VENRO (an umbrella group of German development NGOs) on 27 June 2011. SWABAC was a member of the Civil Society Consultation on Afghanistan at the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn in December 2011 and played a major role in introducing regional representatives there, and in the preparing of a joint civil society statement to be presented at the conference. SWABAC is currently the lead agency for the Local Cooperation and Coordination Sector of Kandahar’s Provincial Development Committee.

Tokyo Meetings

The Tokyo Ministerial Meeting—formally known as the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan—was a meeting of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Steering Group (ARSG) that mobilised the first substantial post-Taliban donor commitments for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. It took place on 21-22 January 2002, and was co-chaired by Japan, the United States, the European Union, and Saudi Arabia. Ministers and representatives from 61 countries and 21 international organisations attended. NGOs held a separate parallel meeting, the results of which were reported to the plenary session of the Ministerial Meeting.

Discussions focused on a comprehensive framework for reconstruction over the longer term and costed the recovery needs of Afghanistan over the following ten years at $15 billion. This figure was increased to $27.4 billion in the Securing Afghanistan’s Future report that resulted from the Berlin Meeting held in March 2004.

In February 2003 another meeting was held in Tokyo: the Tokyo Conference on the Consolidation of Peace in Afghanistan. It was held to discuss security reform in Afghanistan and resulted in the five-pillar Security Sector Reform (SSR) strategy.


Transition, or Inteqal in Dari and Pashto, is best known as the process by which responsibility for Afghanistan’s security will be transferred from NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). NATO has declared that Transition will be an events-based, rather than calendar-driven process, but both the Afghan government and NATO allies aim to complete the security handover by the end of 2014. Several NATO ally governments have also set this date as the deadline for a significant drawdown in troop commitments to Afghanistan (for more details on troop numbers, see ISAF).

Transition was first discussed at the London Conference of January 2010, where it was agreed that the ANSF would begin to take security leadership on a province-by-province basis. More detailed plans were then prepared for the July 2010 Kabul Conference, at which the Afghan government’s Inteqal paper was endorsed by the international community. This paper called for significant increases in the both the quality and quantity of the ANSF, the achievement of which has become a key part of the Transition process.

The handover of security responsibility is being undertaken in four stages. The first tranche of territory to be handed to Afghan forces was announced in March 2011. This tranche comprised Bamyan Province (all districts), Panjshir Province (all districts), Kabul Province (all districts except Surobi), as well as the municipalities of Mazar-i-Sharif (Balkh Province), Herat (Herat Province), Lashkar Gah (Helmand Province) and Mehtarlam (Laghman Province). These first areas account for between 20 and 25 percent of the population of Afghanistan. The second tranche was announced in November 2011. It includes all of Balkh, Day Kundi, Nimroz, Takhar and Samangan provinces, as well as selected districts in a further 13 provinces. Completion of the second tranche will leave the ANSF with security responsibility for over 50 percent of the population. As of January 2012, it seemed likely that the third tranche of areas to be transferred would be announced shortly before the international conference planned for May 2012 in Chicago.

Given that the handover of responsibility for an area’s security must be an irreversible process, conditions for Transition are assessed by ISAF’s Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board (JANIB). JANIB then submits its assessment to the Afghan Cabinet for approval, after which implementation can begin. Assessment of an area’s suitability is based on four main criteria:

  • ANSF are capable of shouldering greater security tasks with less ISAF assistance;

  • Security is at a level which allows the population to undertake daily routine activities;

  • Local governance is sufficiently developed so that security will not be undermined as ISAF assistance is reduced; and

  • ISAF is ready to reduce its presence as ANSF capabilities develop and threat levels diminish.

The third of these factors reflects the increased emphasis that both the government and the international community has put on local governance, leading to a number of decentralising initiatives under the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). The necessity of improving local security has also led to the creation and expansion of the Afghan Local Police programme (ALP).

The handover of security responsibility in an area does not mean that ISAF forces leave or cease to function. Rather, they continue to play an active though decreasing security role under an Afghan lead. The process of ANSF taking complete responsibility for an area’s security is lengthy; as of January 2012, the US Department of Defense expected the first tranche of districts to finish this process in the next 10-22 months.

As of January 2012 it is unclear how many (if any) foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan following the complete handover of security to the ANSF. ISAF has stated that Transition does  not signal ISAF’s withdrawal from the country, merely a shift to a supporting role as the ANSF develop their capabilities. However, domestic political commitments by NATO allies make it likely that troop numbers will be sharply reduced by the end of 2014.

Transition will also affect the role of the international community in Afghanistan. The part played by international actors will evolve from direct service delivery to support and capacity-building for Afghan institutions. This process includes the phasing out of all Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and the dissolution of any structures duplicating the functions and authorities of the Afghan government at the national and subnational levels.

Despite the final declaration of the 2011 Bonn Conference (p. 27) reiterating the international community’s long term commitment to Afghanistan, there is concern that the withdrawal of foreign troops will mean a sharp reduction in aid made available for Afghan development. The World Bank has projected that even if Afghanistan achieves robust economic growth, a finance gap of up to 25 percent of GDP could emerge by 2021, and only sustained international funding is likely to be able to meet these needs. There is therefore a worry that international aid will be concentrated on the ANSF rather than social and economic development.

United Nations in Afghanistan


The United Nations (UN) system is represented in Afghanistan by the integrated UN Mission comprising the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and 26 UN agencies, funds and programmes. The UN’s development and humanitarian functions, in addition to the international financial institutions the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and voluntary members such as the Asian Development Bank and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), are brought together under the umbrella of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT).

Although the UN system has been present in Afghanistan since the 1960s with the presence of several UN specialised agencies, the integrated mission in its current form was established in 2002 following the Bonn Agreement and the subsequent passing of Security Council Resolution 1401 on 28 March 2002. UNAMA’s mandate has been continuously extended since 2002, and is renewed by the Security Council each March. It provides UNAMA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan with a mandate to support the government in its efforts to improve critical areas, including security, governance and economic development, and regional cooperation, as well as to support the full implementation of mutual commitments made on these issues at the London Conference in January 2010, the Kabul Conference in July 2010 (p. 50) and most recently at the Istanbul Regional Conference in November 2011 (p. 46) and the Bonn Conference in December 2011. The mission is further instructed to continue to: provide political and strategic advice for the peace process, provide good offices, promote human rights, provide technical assistance, and ensure the coordination of humanitarian relief and UN development activities in coordination with the Afghan government. The Secretary-General reports on progress made in the implementation of the mandate, presenting to the Security Council on a quarterly basis.

UNAMA focuses its efforts on supporting elections, peace and reconciliation, regional cooperation, promoting good governance and rule of law, human rights and development coherence. Overall, UNAMA’s operations are divided into Pillar 1 (political affairs) and Pillar 2 (development and humanitarian affairs). In recent years some of the UNAMA’s key activities have included:

  • Supporting donor and government coordination through the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB);

  • Promoting the implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS),and the National Priority Programs (NPPs);

  • Promoting peace and reconciliation through supporting the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme and the High Peace Council (APRP);

  • Developing the capacity of government and conflict resolution at provincial levels;

  • Promoting human rights through monitoring and publishing reports on the protection of civilians and civilian casualties, as well as the implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law; and

  • Ensuring that human development remains central to policy dialogue surrounding security Transition.

Within the overall context of the UN’s commitment to supporting the government’s aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and providing humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable, the UN development and humanitarian agencies provide support in their specialised areas of operation as per each agency’s mandate. The integrated mission is headed by the SRSG, Ján Kubiš, who took up the post in January 2012.

The Office of the SRSG is responsible for overall policy guidance and high-level decision-making for the political component of the mission, in addition to liaising with the Afghan Government, Coalition Forces, and the International Security Assistance Force. The SRSG is supported by two deputies as well as a number of Special Advisers on human rights, gender, drugs, rule of law, police, military, and legal issues, as well as communication. The two deputies (DSRSGs) head the two pillars of UNAMA’s operations. The UNAMA Chief of Staff is responsible for integrating the two pillars of the mission.

The UNCT in Afghanistan brings together all UN agencies, funds and programmes engaged with Afghanistan as well as many UN secretariat departments, including UNAMA. This includes a  number of non-resident UN agencies that engage with Afghanistan through programmes or other activities but do not have an established office in country. Such actors include, among others, UNAIDS, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The UN agencies, funds and programmes represent Pillar 2, the development and humanitarian branch of the UN in Afghanistan. The DSRSG for Pillar 2 fulfils multiple roles, as this position also comprises being the Resident Coordinator (RC), Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and the Resident Representative (RR) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The RC/HC functions link the development and humanitarian arms of the UN to UNAMA. Supported by the RC’s Office, the RC is responsible for heading the UNCT and coordinating the UN’s development agencies; supported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the HC is responsible for the coordination of the humanitarian community in Afghanistan.

The UN system is present in all 34 provinces of the country through sub-offices or programmes. The combined efforts of UN staff in the provinces support capacity-building of local government and promote peace-building and reconciliation, as well as human rights and the empowerment of civil society, and provide basic social services down to the district level. UNAMA and a number of UN agencies, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have sub-offices and project representatives in various provinces, while other agencies implement programmes at the local level exclusively through the government, nongovernmental organisations and communities.

In addition to the main offices in Kabul, there are eight UNAMA regional offices, in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Bamiyan and Gardez, and 15 provincial offices, in Day Kundi, Jawzjan, Faryab, Sar-i-Pul, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Takhar, Khost, Uruzgan, Zabul, Nimroz, Farah, Badghis, Ghor and Kunar. Liaison offices in Tehran, Asghabad and Islamabad support the mission’s work in regional coordination.

A number of strategic and programmatic UN standard frameworks govern the programmes and interventions of the UN system. In an effort to provide a comprehensive and coherent response to the development, humanitarian and political challenges in Afghanistan and to support the government, the UN system aims to deliver in a coherent manner within the Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF) and the UN Development Assistance Framework 2010-13 (UNDAF). The ISF defines the overarching strategic direction that the UN system as a whole is taking in Afghanistan, and ensures the cohesion of all facets of the UN’s political, developmental and humanitarian work. The ISF is supported by the UNDAF, which is a programme-planning framework for all UN agencies operating in Afghanistan. It is important to note that although the UNDAF describes the common response of the UN system at the country level, it does not replace each agency’s individual country programme, and as such does not always encapsulate all aspects of an agency’s work. The humanitarian aspects of UN programming are governed by the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), which is development and released annually.

The 2010-13 UNDAF in Afghanistan is the country’s second, and was launched in October 2009. The UNDAF is jointly developed by the members of the UNCT and is the result of extensive consultations with government, civil society, and international partners. It is signed by the Afghan government and was developed to frame the UN’s support to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (p. 15). The UNDAF comprises three mutually reinforcing priorities: 1) governance, peace and stability, 2) sustainable livelihoods, including: agriculture, food security and income opportunities, and 3) basic social services, including: health, education, water and sanitation. Preparations for the next UNDAF spanning 2014-2018 will be launched in 2012.

Environment, gender and women’s empowerment as well as counter-narcotics are considered cross-cutting areas which should be mainstreamed into all programme areas. UNAMA and UNDP jointly take the lead of the first priority area, which also involves MACCA (see Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan, p. 56), IOM, UN-Habitat, UNIDO, UNOPS, UNCTAD, UNODC, UNFPA, ILO , UN Women and UNICEF (see abbreviations below). FAO takes the lead in the second area, with ILO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNIDO, WFP, UN-Habitat, UNEP, UNFPA, UNHCR and UN Women also active in its focus on livelihoods. This priority area will complement the government’s efforts to support literacy and vocational training, primary and secondary schooling, and higher education. The third area is jointly lead by UNFPA, UNICEF and UNESCO in accordance with their global mandate, with strong additional engagement by WHO, WFP, FAO, UN Women and IOM. The UNCT also supports the improvement of health systems and services, and the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation.

Members of the UNCT in Afghanistan are:

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)

  • International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

  • Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA)

  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR)

  • United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

  • United Nations Department for Security and Safety (UNDSS)

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)

  • United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

  • United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

  • United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

  • World Bank (WB)

  • World Food Programme (WFP)

  • World Health Organisation (WHO)

Water Resources

The majority of Afghanistan’s population relies on subsistence farming for survival, and as a result conservation of the country’s water resources is vital. Rural communities rely on sufficient precipitation to irrigate their crops. Limited rain and snowfall in late 2010 and early 2011 led to drought in northern and western Afghanistan, affecting between one and three million people. The drought significantly damaged the year’s wheat harvest, ultimately reducing food security throughout the country.

Currently, Afghanistan annually receives around 2,775 cubic meters of water per capita, comfortably above the 1,700 cubic meters per capita threshold considered necessary to satisfy a population’s water needs. However this significant quantity of water is not uniformly distributed across the country. For instance, the northern river basin contains only three percent of the country’s water volume, giving an average of 676 cubic meters per capita for the region—dangerously close to the water scarcity threshold of 500 cubic meters per capita. Furthermore, the lack of water storage capacity makes Afghanistan highly vulnerable to inter- and intra-annual variations in water availability. In general, the country’s water infrastructure remains highly underdeveloped; the majority of the country’s 12 reservoirs were constructed between 1920 and 1940, and Afghanistan currently has one of the lowest water storage capacities in the world. Currently, Afghanistan also has the world’s lowest average access to sanitary water; in 2007 this figure was 26.8 percent of the population.

Traditional water distribution methods have been seriously affected by conflict and are open to abuse by corrupt officials, with water now the second greatest cause of disputes within communities. There is a need to improve management by building on the mirab (water master) system—where communities appoint representatives to manage communal water resources—in order to tackle issues such as equity in water sharing and conflict resolution. Population and economic growth, along with improving living standards will drive up the requisite volume of water in the country; it is projected that by 2025 the volume of available water per capita will have declined by 36 percent relative to the quantity available in 2004. This has particularly worrying implications for expanding urban areas—it is estimated that by 2050 Kabul will require six times as much water as it does currently. Without accompanying economic modernisation, this trend could pose a significant long-term threat to food security throughout the country.

With the water sector seen as a key part of achieving Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a Water Sector Strategy was created under the infrastructure pillar of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). Water also features prominently in other sectoral strategies such as agriculture, energy, the environment, rural development and urban development. The Strategy’s short-term goals, such as extending access to sanitary water to 90 percent of villages, were due to be completed in 2010; medium-term goals, such as the reform and development of legal and governance structures in the water sector, should be completed by 2013; and long-term goals, such as the rehabilitation of existing water infrastructure and the construction of new infrastructure, should be completed by 2023 and beyond. However, the country’s most recent National Human Development Report (NHDR), claims that these targets are overly ambitious, and unlikely to be achieved in the next few decades.

 In 2009 a Water Law was enacted. Based on Article 9 of the Constitution it establishes a  framework for regulation and institutional reorganisation of the water sector, adopting the “goodwater governance” principles of international mechanisms such as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which devolves water management to basin and sub-basin levels. Between 2003 and 2009, $1.2 billion was committed in funding to water projects, with the US, the World Bank, Germany, Canada, the European Commission and Japan the largest funders.However, only $578 million (48 percent) of that figure has been disbursed. Current government projects in the water development sector include the Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Irrigation Program, run by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and funded by USAID, the UK’s Department For International Development (DFID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the European Commission-funded Panj-Amu River Basin Programme and Western Basin Project. These programmes represent attempts to pilot the IWRM approach in Afghanistan, with the ultimate aim of introducing it across the country. For more information on the current situation of Afghanistan’s water resources, see: NHDR 2011, “The Forgotten Front: Water Security and the Crisis in Sanitation” ( html); and various publications from AREU’s “Water Management, Livestock and the Opium Economy” research project (