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Afghanistan: UN-backed body steps up efforts for reconstruction

Afghanistan: UN-backed body steps up efforts for reconstruction

A high-level United Nations-backed body promoting a five-year development plan for Afghanistan wound up a two-day meeting in Berlin today with a commitment to more aggressive and determined efforts to rebuild the war-torn country, ranging from improving security to easing poverty to fostering human rights.

“As 2007 starts we have a window of opportunity to regain momentum,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs told the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) session attended by 23 countries and international institutions.

“We have to turn the tide and to seize every opportunity in the coming months for more growth, for more effective governance,” Mr. Koenigs, JCMB co-chair, added.

The JCMB, set up last year to monitor implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year blueprint for reconstruction that was signed at the London Conference in February, was holding its first session outside Afghanistan, in line with intentions to hold at least one meeting annually in a major international setting.

The meeting saw new initiatives aimed at addressing evolving challenges relating to lack of security, poverty, human rights and Afghanistan’s political environment. Prominent among these were Afghan proposals for accelerated Afghanization of the national army and police, as well as in the area of economic development.

Other initiatives included improved capacity development for service delivery in Afghan provinces, redoubled employment generation, new momentum in reforms at the Ministry of Interior, enhanced aid effectiveness in line with current priorities, strengthening electoral preparations and intensified efforts to address the wider regional dimensions of the conflict, in which the ousted Taliban regime has stepped up attacks.

“Afghanistan is grateful for the intensified military efforts of our international partners,” the Afghan co-chair of JCMB and senior economic adviser to President Hamid Karzai, Ishaq Nadiri, said. “And we recognize that an equally aggressive effort needs to be put into creating the conditions for long-term economic stability and social progress.

“Afghanistan is a post-devastation country, and the Afghan people stand determined to chart a new path with the support of our international partners. To succeed, our efforts must be comprehensive and long-term,” he added.

In the 12 months since the Afghanistan Compact was adopted, despite resurgent violence and record opium production, the JCMB has been able to oversee quiet but steady progress towards many vital goals, including creation of a national appointments mechanism, technical and administrative support to the new National Assembly, and reformed oversight procedures for strengthened government transparency.

Progress has also been made on creating sustainable water resource strategies and plans for irrigation and drinking water, new business organization laws, and an Action Plan on Peace, Justice and Reconciliation.