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G8 Foreign Ministers Announce
Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative

Gatineau, Quebec, March 29, 2010

Backgrounder on Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative

G8 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Afghanistan
Backgrounder: Afghanistan and Pakistan

We, the foreign ministers of the G8, reaffirm our collective commitment to support Afghanistan on its road to peace and stability. As noted by G8 foreign ministers and most recently last June at the Trieste ministerial meeting, stability in Afghanistan and the surrounding region is crucial to stemming terrorism with a global reach. Afghanistan’s recovery from years of conflict and repressive Taliban rule is advancing steadily. However, we acknowledge that many challenges continue to hinder reconstruction efforts. Violent extremism in parts of Afghanistan is depriving many Afghans of their right to live freely and safely. Many Afghans still struggle with poverty, insecurity, corruption and lack of economic opportunities.

The international community needs to remain engaged in order to enable Afghans to assume full ownership of their own security, governance and development. The relationship between Afghanistan and its international partners continues to evolve as the Government of Afghanistan assumes ever more responsibility for the security and prosperity of Afghans and their country. We expect to see concrete action taken on the many mutual commitments made in the London Conference Communiqué, and we are committed to assisting the Afghan Government in making progress.

We expect the Kabul Conference to clarify the Government of Afghanistan’s vision for the country, and give details on the Government’s commitments to the Afghan people, based on human rights, gender equality, good governance and service delivery, economic growth, as well as a common desire to live in peace under the Afghan Constitution.

Security and stability are essential for reconstruction and sustainable development. We, the G8, therefore reiterate our commitment to continue to foster the capability and effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), by providing the appropriate support to the Government of Afghanistan in the phased growth and expansion of the ANSF. We welcome the signing by the Afghan Government of the Afghan National Police Strategy and look forward to the development of the Afghan National Police Plan. We also urge the Afghan Government to finalise the National Security Strategy and Policy before the Kabul Conference.

We, the G8 ministers of foreign affairs, urge the Government of Afghanistan to remain committed to transition to an ANSF lead in security responsibilities, taking into account both security and non-security criteria. Close coordination between the Government of Afghanistan, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), NATO, non-NATO ISAF partners and other stakeholders is essential for a successful transition.

More broadly, clear and mutually reinforcing strategies on the protection of civilians should remain an important element of overall efforts in Afghanistan.

Reconciliation and reintegration strategies led by the Government of Afghanistan are increasingly crucial to responding effectively to the insurgency. We welcome the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to develop and implement a detailed national Peace and Reintegration Programme for presentation at the Kabul Conference, and the international community’s establishment of a trust fund to finance the programme. The nomination of an Afghan lead for the reintegration process and the planned Peace Jirga will be important steps forward. As stipulated by President Karzai, those members of illegal armed groups who wish to participate in the national reintegration process should recognize the Constitution of Afghanistan, cease insurgency, abandon violence and break their ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

We urge the Government of Afghanistan to be bold in its efforts to address difficult governance issues, which should include approval and implementation of a Sub-National Governance Policy. Effective sub-national governance is essential to improving delivery of basic services to all Afghans. In addition, Parliament should be enabled to play its important role as an effective forum for the political aspirations of Afghans.

The Government of Afghanistan should take concrete and transparent steps to deliver on its commitments in the London Conference Communiqué to ensure the integrity of parliamentary elections in 2010. The Afghan Government should work closely with the UN through UNAMA in Kabul to undertake electoral reforms that build on the lessons learned from the 2009 presidential and provincial council elections to contribute to democratic development and the holding of credible, inclusive and transparent parliamentary elections in September 2010. Improvements to the electoral process, as well as measures to ensure the independence, transparency and effectiveness of electoral bodies, are critical to democratic development.

We, the G8 foreign ministers, stress the need for the Government of Afghanistan to act swiftly to implement already reaffirmed concrete and visible measures to combat corruption and develop key benchmarks and implementation plans for commitments made at the London Conference, including empowering the independent High Office for Oversight and appointing an independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mission.

Within the framework of the National Justice Sector Strategy, it is important for the Afghan Government to deliver on its commitments: to implement the National Justice Programme; to actively pursue comprehensive rule of law reform; and to adopt and implement a new national policy on the relationship between the formal justice system and dispute resolution councils consistent with the Afghan constitution and Afghanistan’s international obligations.

We welcome the Afghan Government’s commitment to implement the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan and urge the government to outline how it will ensure its effective and timely implementation. The law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women is a good sign of progress. As Afghanistan continues to work towards recovery, we call upon the Government of Afghanistan to continue to respect fully the rule of law, as well as to protect and promote the human rights of all its citizens in accordance with Afghanistan’s Constitution. We urge the Afghan Government in the strongest terms to honour its international human rights treaty obligations, including respect for women’s equality, and the right to freedom of expression.

There is a direct link between the narcotics trade, the insurgency and other criminal activity, including corruption and human trafficking. We therefore welcome the recent progress by the Afghan Government in poppy reduction, and the planned update of the National Drugs Control Strategy, and we encourage the international community’s support of Afghan counter-narcotics efforts.

Economic development is key to stability and poverty reduction in Afghanistan. We acknowledge the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for economic development, and welcome the steps taken by the Government of Afghanistan, donors and international organisations to improve economic opportunities available to all Afghans. We congratulate the Afghan Government on reaching the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Completion Point, resulting from the successful implementation of important economic reforms in partnership with the IMF and World Bank. The Government of Afghanistan’s proposal to establish clusters on agriculture and rural development, human resources development and infrastructure and economic development to provide systematic inter-ministerial dialogue on economic development in Afghanistan is commendable. We expect to see improved coordination and service delivery as a result of the reorganisation.

Effective regional cooperation, to be pursued with all neighbouring countries, is crucial for supporting stability not only in Afghanistan, but in the wider region as a whole. We support and reiterate the principles of regional cooperation articulated in the London Conference Communiqué – to support and empower the region to address its own challenges of extremism and terrorism, narcotics and limited economic opportunities, including by: recognizing Afghan-led reintegration and reconciliation; ending support for illegal groups on each others’ territories; facilitating the sustainable return of Afghan refugees; enhanced people-to-people contacts; and cooperating on water resources and basin management. We urge regional-led economic cooperation organisations to play an active role through supporting, inter alia, reconstruction and modernisation of infrastructure, the energy sector, as well as agricultural, educational and vocational training projects. In addition, an Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement will help boost both countries’ economic development.

The United Nations has a leading role to play in Afghanistan. We encourage the UN to strengthen its presence in Kabul and in the provinces to allow it to fulfill its important role in areas such as: electoral support; human rights and the rule of law; and reconciliation and reintegration. We also recognize the importance of, and support, the UN’s efforts on humanitarian and development issues, and call for greater integration of these efforts with international partners. We also encourage the international community to support UNAMA fully in these efforts. It is important for the UN and the international community to continue strengthening donor coordination, recognizing UNAMA’s lead while supporting the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan to increasingly take on this role.

We, the foreign ministers of the G8, reiterate the urgency for concrete action to implement London Conference commitments in a manner consistent with Afghanistan’s Constitution and with international human rights obligations. The Government of Afghanistan needs to demonstrate to Afghans and to the international community that it is committed to assuming full responsibility for the welfare of Afghanistan and all its citizens. Ultimately, the efforts necessary for the reconstruction of Afghanistan need to be Afghan-led.

Source: Muskoka 2010 G8 [Official website]


Backgrounder: Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative

The G8 Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative focuses on one of the least economically developed regions in the world. Improving the socio-economic situation in this region is an important step in building community resilience against violent extremism.

As a group, the G8 has recognized this challenge since 2007, when the G8 commitment to focus on peace, security and development in the region was announced jointly with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Potsdam, under Germany’s presidency. The G8 Coordination Arrangement was then endorsed by G8 foreign ministers in Kyoto in 2008, during the Japanese presidency, as a tool for the G8 to act as a convening force bringing a broad range of actors around the table to help deliver on this commitment. Meetings of the Arrangement, started by the Japanese, have been convened regularly by Italy in 2009 and by Canada in 2010.

The launch of the Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative is a tangible and results-oriented outcome of the discussions at the G8 Gatineau Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The G8 pursued this Initiative in close partnership with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Building on the work of recent G8 presidencies, and on a Canada-facilitated initiative bringing together Afghan and Pakistani border officials – known as the Dubai Process – the present Initiative will continue to focus the G8 on Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to help increase trade between the two countries.

The Initiative aims to facilitate the delivery of targeted projects, including infrastructure projects essential to fostering trade, which will ultimately contribute to economic development and to the provision of enhanced opportunities for employment in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Initiative addresses the need to increase trade between the two countries, an issue highlighted by the World Bank. The Initiative will be complementary to other trade facilitation efforts such as private sector and agriculture development and the Dubai Process.

During the first year of its implementation, the Initiative will facilitate progress on infrastructure projects identified by the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, for example those highlighted in the Joint Declaration on Next Steps in Pakistan-Afghanistan Comprehensive Cooperation adopted on March 11, 2010: a Peshawar-Jalalabad Expressway and a feasibility study for a Peshawar-Jalalabad rail link. Through this Initiative, the G8, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, hope to deliver tangible, positive results for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, strengthen regional cooperation and bring greater stability to the region as a whole.

Source: Muskoka 2010 G8 [Official website]

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