Posted By: Erica
On June 12, the French government will host 60 major donors, foreign governments and non-governmental actors, at the Paris Donor Conference for Afghanistan. The Afghan government will be asking the international community to commit to $50 billion in aid for the coming years. We at CIVIC wanted to make sure that at least part of that commitment goes to help those Afghan families and communities caught in the past and ongoing conflict. This weekend I attended the civil society forum on Afghanistan, where NGOs and members of the private sector had a nominal opportunity to provide recommendations and guidance for those representatives deciding the international community’s commitment in June.
I say nominal because the civil society forum was pulled together at the last minute, with many NGOs complaining that the process of selecting attendees and of developing the agenda was not transparent, open, or representative. Debate on the broader issues in Afghanistan was cabined into a two hour period and limited to the list of 4 or 5 issues pre-slotted on the agenda.
I attended the human rights session, where issues of transitional justice and civilian casualties were notably absent from the agenda. By the time the round table speakers had spoken on the pre-approved topics there was only 10 minutes left to formulate concrete recommendations on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. I raised my hand to question the glaring lack of discussion and debate on the critical topic of how to help civilians still suffering from the ongoing conflict, but I was pre-empted by not one but four Afghans representing different organizations and institutions in Afghanistan. Many of them worked for organizations that were not directly linked to issues of civilian casualties or redressing the costs of conflict, but each one of them as an Afghan knew how critical such relief and recognition was to their country.
In the end, we were able to submit several concrete recommendations urging representatives at the Paris Conference to recognize civilian losses in past and ongoing conflicts (particularly those caused by international military forces); and to support existing initiatives providing emergency relief, humanitarian aid or compensation to Afghan victims of conflict. Given the context of the conference and the hasty treatment of the civil society forum, we can only hope that representatives at the Paris Donor Conference will take these recommendations seriously.