Norway believes that the situation in Afghanistan gives cause for deep concern. The conflict in the southern parts of the country has demonstrated the need for a change of pace in our efforts – those of the international community and those of the Government of Afghanistan.
The increasing challenges have illustrated the importance of making better use of our resources in some areas, of expanding our efforts in others, and of enhancing the ability of the Afghan Government to assume ownership of the development of its country.
A comprehensive and truly nation-wide strategy is required. If we remain focussed on one dimension of our work or on one region of the country, then the result may well be less stability – not more.
Our strategy must include the security, humanitarian, development and political dimensions.
The Bonn process brought impressive achievements. And the Afghanistan Compact remains our roadmap. However, there is today a sense of stagnation. In order to inject new and much needed political energy, it is our view that we must address three interrelated challenges:
1) improving the coordination of the international assistance
2) enhancing our capacity-building efforts
3) supporting President Karzai by encouraging the Afghan Government to strengthen its outreach policies and to rid itself of corruption and undesired practices.
Our work is a true partnership between the international community and the Government of Afghanistan. Their leadership and ownership are crucial.
Let me turn to the first point; improving coordination of the international assistance.
Although improvements have been made, the civilian side of the international community continues to suffer from a lack of coordination. Fragmentation of our civilian efforts leads to a waste of resources.
It complicates our efforts to implement a systematic development strategy under the leadership of the Government of Afghanistan.
We need a stronger civilian leadership in order to improve the coordination of our assistance and enhance the ability of the Afghan Government to assume ownership. This would enable us to speed up the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact.
No other organization is better placed to shoulder this responsibility than the UN.
UNAMA should be staffed and given the resources required to play this role on the ground. There is also a need to strengthen coordination between capitals and the headquarters of key organisations.
To facilitate such coordination, the UN may consider the appointment of a Special Envoy for Afghanistan, with the task of conducting a continuous dialogue with countries engaged in the stabilisation of Afghanistan, with countries in the region and with relevant international organisations.
However, efficient coordination will only be possible if donors are prepared to be coordinated. While reliance on foreign contractors and personnel may often be inevitable, it also drives up costs, leaves less money in Afghanistan and leads to parallel structures, thereby weakening Afghan ownership and ability to develop Afghan institutions.
We should examine how we can channel more of our development and reconstruction through Afghan institutions and organisations, in accordance with the Afghanistan Compact.
To the second point; improving the Afghan governance and ownership, it is our view that capacity-building remains a key to success in Afghanistan.
Significant resources have been invested in the training of government institutions, the police, judiciary and army. Nevertheless, the instruments of law and order remain weak, ministries and provincial authorities urgently need expertise and the army lacks the capacity to conduct independent operations. A stronger, more concerted capacity-building effort is required.
Capacity-building is also an important part of development and reconstruction. The donor community should do more to increase their use of Afghan personnel, thereby providing a capacity-building effect, which would facilitate the maintenance and sustainability of projects. The use of local manpower would stimulate economic growth and employment as well as local ownership.
And thirdly; supporting the Afghan government. An intensified international programme to promote ownership and capacity-building must be accompanied by a determined effort by the Government of Afghanistan to reach out to its people and improve its own institutions.
The Government should be stimulated to reach out to the provinces, districts and villages. An intensified dialogue between the central government and local leaders and tribal elders would be an essential means of forging loyalty between the central government and the different parts of the country. The building of a stable Afghanistan will need to combine new institutions with traditional structures.
The Government should fight corruption and organised crime in central and provincial institutions as well as in the police and the judiciary. The presence of corruption in key institutions feeds frustration and insecurity among the population and contributes to the gap between people’s expectations and the reality they face.
It has a negative effect on the reputation of the international community, which is seen as tolerating such phenomena.
Let me add our concerns regarding the humanitarian situation.
There are pressing humanitarian needs in Afghanistan today. Soon 1.9 million Afghans may require food assistance due to large-scale drought. Furthermore, 20 000 displaced families are in need of food and shelter following the fighting in the southern provinces.
A prompt response to the recent appeal by the Government and UNAMA is required. We must enable the Government to take leadership and thereby demonstrate its ability to come to the assistance of its own people.