Donors conference in Tokyo pledges US$ 16 billion for Afghanistan's development
KABUL - As Afghanistan’s donors pledged US$ 16 billion for the country’s economic and development needs at an international conference in Tokyo today, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon also assured Afghanistan that the world body would do its utmost to help the Afghans fill the gaps that may arise as the ongoing transition deepens. Remarks of the Secretary-General at the Tokyo Conference | Secretary-General Press Conference in Tokyo | Opening statement by President Hamid Karzai | UN News Centre article | The Conference Declaration | Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework
Addressing the one-day Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in the Japanese capital, Secretary-General Ban promised “strong support” of the UN throughout the Transformation Decade, 2015-2025, while calling on donors to continue to keep the flow of their assistance.
“Failure to invest in governance, justice, human rights, employment and social development could negate the investments and sacrifices that have been made over the past ten years,” Mr Ban warned.
Representatives of 70 countries and international organizations met in the Japanese capital to chart out future assistance for Afghanistan as there are fears that the international support to the country may wane after the foreign combat troops leave the country by the end of 2014.
Secretary-General Ban stressed that “Afghanistan at peace with itself” would respond to its people’s hopes of better lives for themselves and their children. He said Afghan institutions are still in their nascent stages.
While expressing his gratitude for the international support to Afghanistan, the UN chief also called on Afghanistan to play its part. "I have been making this point very clear that while the international community is ready to support Afghanistan, the Afghan government should make sure that all this money and investment should be used wisely to the purpose of their support,” said Mr Ban, speaking at a press conference later in the day in Tokyo. He also applauded Japan's role in development of Afghanistan.
Addressing the same international meeting, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged the international community not to abandon his country. “I request Afghanistan's friends and partners to reassure the Afghan people that you will be with us," said Mr Karzai.
The Senior Afghanistan envoy of NATO, Simon Gass, listed three key elements necessary for Afghanistan’s future success: if there is no security then economic development will not last; if there is no prosperity, security will not be sustainable; and both security and economic development will be difficult, if not impossible, without good governance.
At an international meeting of NATO held in Chicago in May, its allies reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to play their part in the financial sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces with US$ 4.1 billion annual funding following withdrawal of the foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
The participants of the Tokyo Conference agreed to provide US$ 16 billion available through 2015 for Afghanistan’s economic and development sectors. Japan alone would provide US$ 3 billion in aid for Afghanistan from through 2016 with most of the aid money to be spent on development, said its Foreign Minister, Koichiro Gemba. Japan is the second largest donor to Afghanistan, after the United States.
"As a host country, I am happy that we have been able to gain broad cooperation to get to this point,” the Japanese Foreign Minister had told reporters ahead of the Conference.
This is the second international conference on Afghanistan being hosted by Tokyo since the first held in 2002.
The international community and Afghanistan have redefined the principles of their partnership in the "Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework," which was endorsed at the Tokyo Conference. The UN chief said this framework should give confidence to Afghans and donors that the commitments they have made to each other will be monitored and honoured.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Michael Keating, said in an interview on 6 July that there is willingness in the international community to fund the socio-economic and development sectors despite the current global economic climate and donor fatigue. He also said the international support to the Afghan security forces post-2014 should be matched by “generous level of funding” in economic and development activities.
However, he said donor-country taxpayers and politicians want the Afghan Government to also demonstrate a very clear and strong agenda for tackling things like corruption, strengthening the rule of law and ensuring that the elections take place.
Afghan civil society representatives, media and human rights watchdog have called on the world leaders participating in the Tokyo Conference to make human rights in Afghanistan a priority.
The European Union said in a statement yesterday that it will maintain its €200 million annual support to Afghanistan, calling on the country to honour its commitments “reforming its public finance management its public administration and its economy while fighting corruption.”
A UK-based charity, Oxfam had recently warned that development gains made in Afghanistan over the last decade are in danger of being thrown away if levels of aid fall away in conjunction with the withdrawal of international combat troops in 2014.
"Any significant cuts in support could have dire consequences on Afghan people and we cannot let this happen. While the past 11 years have seen substantial progress, millions of Afghans still lack adequate healthcare, schools, jobs, or law and order. A good hard look at the way aid is spent in Afghanistan is long overdue," said Oxfam's Louise Hancock, head of policy and advocacy in Afghanistan.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Finance, US$ 57 billion has been dispersed in development aid between 2002 and 2010.
“Well, do we have $57 billion worth of results on the ground improving the lives of Afghans? Most people would say no,” said Mr Keating. “Then the question is: why not? …We have to be much more focused on what actually delivers results and which delivery mechanism—NGOs, the UN, Government or the local community—makes the largest impact.”