Provincial Councils – a bridge between the public and the Government
KUNAR - A UN-backed roundtable discussion in Asadabad, Kunar Province was recently held, where the importance of good governance and public involvement in provincial council activities was discussed.
The speakers focused on the views of the communities and coordination with civil society and government entities, Provincial Council laws and the Afghanistan Constitution, as well as the role of female PC members in protecting the rights of women.
The discussion – which was aired to an estimated audience of 550,000 on local Zala TV and radio – was set up by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to raise awareness of the functions of provincial councils, and highlight the importance of public involvement. Others on the panel represented local government, civil society and women activists.
Shawali Salarzai, a member of a civil society group said that Provincial Council members should maintain impartiality and fulfill their activities with honesty, and without any nepotism.
“Provincial Councils have to be united and must use their authority to oversee and monitor government performance to implement the rule of law,” he said.
“In order to effectively implement development projects, the provincial council of Kunar and civil societies must jointly monitor the development of projects, and participate in key meetings”, he added. He appreciated the support extended by central government but expressed his concerns over the improper allocation of funds for developmental projects in Kunar which is led by the ministries at central level.
Mrs. Zia Gul, representative of Women Affairs Department said that the Provincial Council is supporting women in different ways, especially in resolving serious cases of women’s rights violations.
“We hold regular meetings with PCs and maintain close relations with the provincial council members and actively deal with women’s issues at the provincial level,” she said.
She also pointed out that provincial councils play an important role in helping peoples’ voices to be heard, while civil society and media outlets can be important partners in supporting it.
Din Muhamad Safay, a member of the Kunar Provincial Council highlighted articles 138 and 139 of the Afghan constitution, and pointed out that the Provincial Council of Kunar is functioning effectively as an elective assembly with the objective of creating a structure for partnership and participation of people and Civil Society institutions with the administration at the provincial level.
“We are working to represent people, address their problems, resolving disputes and serve as a bridge between the public and the government,” he said.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent national and international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.
UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.