Kabul – July 5, 2021
Reporter: Abdul Mutalib Feraji
Seven months after the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, only 1.5% of the promised aid has been delivered, and there is no news on the fulfillment of the Afghan government’s commitments.
Payk Investigative Journalism Center, in a recent study on the progress and actions taken by the Afghan government and donor countries regarding the implementation of conditions and fulfilment of the promises announced at the Geneva Conference, has found that of the more than 13.4 billion USD pledged at the Conference, only 233.4 million USD has been provided to the Afghan government by Germany, Denmark and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Only Japan responded to the Payk reporter’s requests for information which were submitted to a number of donor countries’ embassies in Kabul. The Embassy of Japan in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, responding to Payk’s request, reported that 135 million USD have been transferred to the Afghan government. But the Ministry of Finance (MoF) did not confirm this figure.
The 2020 Afghanistan Conference was a pledging conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Afghanistan and Finland with the United Nations that took place on 23–24 November 2020. Representatives of 66 countries and 32 international organizations participated in the Conference which took place virtually. The Conference ended with the announcement of 13 billion USD pledged in “condition-based aid” to the Afghan government for the next four years.
A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, an inclusive peace process that preserves and builds on the achievements of the past twenty years, and women’s meaningful role and participation in the peace process, are said to be among the key conditions of the donor countries in this conference.
According to Shahla Farid, a Kabul University professor, there is no women’s meaningful role and participation in the peace process.
Ten conditions of the donor countries
Former Minister of Finance Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, two days before the Conference in the meeting of the Lower House of Parliament on 10/22/2020, said:
“The Geneva Conference will be convened by the international community to fund Afghanistan’s development projects and will focus on major sectors such as energy, transportation, education, health and agriculture.”
However, at the Geneva Conference, the international community has made its continued support and assistance with the Afghan government conditions-based. Ten key conditions of the international community are as follows:
- Preserves and build on the political, economic and social achievements of the Afghan people since 2001.
- A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
- Continued commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.
- Peace negotiations and the subsequent agreement, as well as its implementation, conducted in an inclusive way.
- A meaningful, demonstrable fight against corruption.
- Respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations and Afghan State institutions.
- Compliance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Prevent any international terrorist groups or individuals, from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of other countries.
- Continuation of the principle of mutual accountability between the Government of Afghanistan and its international development partners.
- Safe and unhindered access for all humanitarian and development actors, free of any illegal taxes and levies on the assistance delivered
These conditions, some political analysts believe, have presented the Afghan government with serious challenges.
Samim Sarem, university lecturer and political and economic expert, believes that contrary to previous years, the international community has not written a blank check to the Afghan government, and if these conditions are not met, Afghanistan will once again face an economic crisis.
But Nazir Ahmad Kabiri, Deputy Minister of Finance for Policy, says that from 2010 onwards all aid and assistance by the international community has been conditions-based and this process will continue.
In addition to raising concerns on the Conference’s commitments not being implemented, the Embassy of Japan in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in response to Payk’s request, has written:
“Even though we are not certain that the mentioned conditions have been met, but international donors expect the Afghan government to fully maintain and implement the principles and commitments outlined in the Afghanistan Partnership Framework. We will follow up the matter in our regular and straightforward dialogue with the Government of Afghanistan.”
The Embassy of Japan in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, responding to Payk’s request, has further added that the country in accordance with its commitment made at the Geneva Conference will provide 180 million USD per year to various sectors of Afghanistan for the next four years.
Pledged aid (official and verbal)
The Ministry of Finance of the country said that the international community at the Geneva Conference pledged more than 13.4 billion USD for Afghanistan over the next four years. It further added that of the 66 countries and 32 international organizations who participated in this conference, the European Union, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, SAARC organization and 23 other countries are among the donors who “verbally” pledged to provide the aid money. Of these, only Germany, Denmark and the SAARC organization have officially pledged, through a written document, to provide 217 million USD to the Afghan government during this year.
Theses donor countries verbally pledged at least 3.356 billion USD for 2021, and subjected the continuation of the aid for the next four years to Afghan government meeting the set conditions and fulfilling its commitments.
The pledged contributions by the donors have seen a 15% decrease compared to the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan held in 2016. However, MoF officials consider the reduction in aid for Afghanistan a normal trend and say:
“As our revenues increase, the amount of aid will decrease, and this is the path of self-reliance for Afghanistan.”
However, according to a number of economic experts, Afghanistan is currently facing the worst economic condition, and the biggest factor for international aid decrease is the government’s failure to fulfil the promises it made to the international community.
Samim Sarem, university lecturer and economic expert, says: “it’s been several years that Afghanistan is facing worst economic conditions, what kind of a path to self-reliance is this?”
A month ago, President Ghani during his speech in the program titled “Opportunity to Change the Game – On Withdrawal of US and NATO Troops from Afghanistan” at Kabul University, said: “soon, at least two billion USD of the international aid will be delivered.” But he did not say whether this was part of the Geneva Conference pledged contributions or from another channel.
The MoF is unaware of the matter. However, Mr. Helmand, chairman of the House Commission on Foreign Affairs, doubts that this money is part of the same pledged contributions in the Geneva Conference, and that if the government fails to fulfil its commitments, it is more likely that the money will not be provided to the Afghan government.
Commitment and performance of Afghan government
A day after the Geneva Conference, the presidential palace of Afghanistan welcomed the pledged contributions of the international community in this conference, announcing that the country will fulfil its commitments on transparency and accountability through the implementation of projects in line with the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANDP) document, and that it will be accountable to the people of Afghanistan and the international partners.
A commitment which according to some political analysts and MPs no relavent action has been taken on.
According to Shahla Farid, Kabul University professor, political analyst and legal expert, meaningful role and participation of women in the peace process is not a new commitment. The government has also failed to implement the action plan of the UN Security Council’s adopted resolution No. 1325.
Based on the information provided by the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), the Afghan government has not been able to increase women’s participation in the civil service sector to 30%.
A comprehensive ceasefire and combatting drug production and trafficking were among other key commitments that some MPs believe that it clearly shows the Afghan government’s failure in fulfilling these commitments.
According to Mr. Sarem, the most important condition, which has been prioritized over the others, is the “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” however, we are witnessing a rise in violence all over the country which results in killing and wounding of many civilians and military personnel.
But Helmand Helmand, chairman of the House Commission on Foreign Affairs, while not naming any country, believes that comprehensive ceasefire and prevention of drug production and trafficking to be beyond the capacity of the Afghan government, adding that foreign hands are involved in these two issues and that the Afghan government cannot do anything.
The Counter-Narcotics Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) recently announced a 45% increase in cultivation and production drugs compared to last year. Before this, the United Nations published a similar report on the matter as well.
Having all this in mind, Afghan government officials believe that the international community would continue to provide aid and assistance in accordance with the needs of the people of Afghanistan in the future as they did in the past two decades through the Tokyo, London and Brussels conferences. However, the only difference was that the Geneva Conference coincided with the withdrawal of the NATO troops from Afghanistan.
Nazir Ahmad Kabiri, Deputy Minister of Finance for Policy, claims that with all the challenges and obstacles, the Afghan government have at least fulfilled and implemented 50% of its Geneva Conference commitments. But he doesn’t say what has been done and in which fields.
In an interview with Payk reporter, Mr. Kabiri admits that the MoF was responsible for reporting on the government’s performance in regarding international economic conferences on Afghanistan before the Geneva Conference, but ever since the Conference, this responsibility has been transferred to the Administrative Office of the President (AOP).
Meanwhile, AOP officials say that progress has been made on the implementation of the Geneva Conference commitments and in response to Payk reporter’s request for information, they have written: “technical committees headed by the deputies of ministries and independent government agencies have been established, general and this year’s plans have been shared with the 76 government departments, a unified report of which would be shared with the President and the international community after they are completed.
With the exception of this written response, the AOP officials did not provide adequate answers to key questions of the reported, as well as questions on “the performance of the said technical committees” and the “general plan”.