Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex A

Updated:  14 Nov 2001



  1.  Routine development mechanisms are notoriously slow in responding to rapidly changing, chaotic post-conflict situations. A sudden and chaotic influx of a horde of international agencies can overwhelm and confuse intended beneficiaries. At the same time, there is an urgent need to demonstrate the dividends of peace and stability to a traumatised population. Confidence in the intentions, credibility and effectiveness of the international community (particularly the UN) in Afghanistan will hinge on visible, early successes that meet immediate needs at a local level, and create the foundation for longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction. Recent advances by the Northern Alliance/United Front underline the urgency of this task.

  2.  The international community's agreed principles on Afghanistan's future emphasise strong support for the efforts of the Afghan people to establish a new and transitional government that should be broad-based, multi-ethnic and representative of all the Afghan people, that would respect human rights and Afghanistan's international obligations, and cooperate fully in international efforts to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance.

  3.  Until such an interim government and administration is established (with the support of the United Nations and in consultation with the Afghan people), the international community should marshal its efforts and resources into achieving tangible successes, wherever it has access, within an ambitious time scale. Useful lessons have been learned from successes and failures in Cambodia (UNTAC), Kosovo (UNMIK), East Timor (UNTAET) and Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).


  4.  The following mixture of conditions, assumed for planning purposes, remains valid. However, more information has emerged in the light of recent developments:

    —  Uncertain political authority: the Taliban have withdrawn from key strategic areas across the North of the country, ceding military control to Northern Alliance/United Front forces who may assume political roles until a transitional government is established. Other areas may remain under Taliban control; authority will be weak in many areas as allegiances shift.

    —  Variable security conditions: anarchy, looting, violence intermittently or in pockets around the country—decreasing as Afghan and/or international monitors, peacekeeping forces and civilian police are deployed to provide a security/protection umbrella. Security may improve, but will not be guaranteed: some risk taking will be necessary.

    —  Continued serious humanitarian needs: food, warmth (in winter), shelter, healthcare, water & sanitation.

    —  Devastated public infrastructure: health facilities, schools, power, communications, transport etc.

    —  Population Movements: Large numbers of displaced people returning home or moving about as security conditions improve or fluctuate.

Objectives for the First 100 Days

  5.  A simultaneous start needs to be made on the following key tasks:

    —  Providing interim security and protection measures (perception will be as influential as reality)

    —  Re-establishing the presence of UN regional coordination officers, field security officers and agency staff, an integrated human rights presence and international NGOs in safe areas inside Afghanistan

    —  Practical/logistic support to UN Political Offices inside Afghanistan

    —  Expanding the delivery of emergency humanitarian relief: food, shelter, basic health facilities, water & sanitation, protection

    —  Resettlement of returning refugees and displaced people as part of the effort to rebuild communities

    —  Conducting emergency repairs and, where necessary, demining, to improve access by enabling unimpeded use of strategic roads, passes, bridges and airfields

    —  Setting up electricity and water supply in large towns, along with telecommunications and a national radio

    —  Identifying qualified Afghans for key administrative and public services

    —  (Re)opening basic education facilities in main population centres

    —  Addressing the risks of mines and unexploded ordnance: demarcation, awareness, priority clearance

    —  Provision of start-up funds for small businesses (eg bakeries)

    —  (Voluntary) disarmament, demobilisation and care of former combatants, particularly child-soldiers; collection and control of ammunition (as a pragmatic measure, recognising the unwillingness of many Afghans to part with their weapons, the large numbers of cached weapons, and the relative ease of re-supply of weapons as opposed to ammunition, which is less profitable and more bulky)

    —  Initiating systematic assessment of long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction needs, priorities and sequencing. Sectors include: governance; security; economy (transformation from a wartime to a peace economy, private investment, development of oil and gas reserves, development of key financial institutions); agriculture (appropriate seeds and tools, irrigation, demining); transport; legal (particularly criminal justice and land rights); media and civil society

Programming Principles

  6.  As the political and security context for recovery and rehabilitation efforts is likely to remain highly fluid, planning will have to remain flexible. The UK approach, often in partnership with others, is guided by the following principles:

    —  Pragmatism/Opportunism: No preconceived sequence: accept uncertainties and work wherever security conditions enable access. Focused on what is achievable at any one time, according to defined priorities and within an agreed Strategic Framework (see below).

    —  Targeting: Vulnerable populations (women, children, elderly, disabled), and the communities to which displaced people are returning. While it may be more practical to begin activities from major urban areas, programmes will need to reach out to rural areas (where needs are most acute) as quickly as possible (see below).

    —  Balance: Care should be taken not to exacerbate tensions and instability by favouring certain groups simply because they are more easily accessible or better organised to capture or divert available resources. This will be an important factor while only a limited number of areas are considered sufficiently secure to re-establish an international presence. Over-concentration of aid in, eg, Mazar-I-Sharif, could cause disruptive population movements from surrounding rural areas. Mazar should instead be regarded as a key initial supply base for expanded humanitarian and recovery efforts across provinces and into the central highlands. Similarly, Herat and Kabul would be regional hubs for servicing their respective surrounding areas.

    —  Flexibility: Adapt methods to circumstances in different areas—where field commanders are accepted as de facto local authorities, seek ways to make them accountable to local communities. Give them a stake in stability and a desire for legitimacy. Establish and agree a workable framework of conditionality, monitoring and accountability.

    —  Participation: Irrelevant interventions can sometimes do more harm than good. Involve beneficiaries, including women, in assessments, planning, implementation and monitoring. Build on traditional solutions, support local initiatives.

    —  Local resources: Contribute to the local economy, get value-for-money and achieve long-term effectiveness by using skills, casual labour and goods from local communities. Credit/grant mechanisms and safe transit will be essential. Support nascent local community organisations and NGOs. Begin to establish key institutions, invest in human resources through skills training and carefully managed reintroduction of diaspora. NB: The UN and INGOs will be the largest employers in Afghanistan, potentially undermining the attempt to establish local institutions and a government by offering better wages.

    —  Benefit Afghanistan's neighbours: Where goods and services need to be procured, give preference to neighbouring countries (Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China) so that they see the benefits of developing Afghanistan. Opium cultivation and trafficking will remain the primary concern of many neighbouring states, but it will take time to phase these activities out and support economic alternatives on a regional basis.

    —  Integrated information strategy: Keep local populations informed while managing expectations and promoting stability. Experience suggests that a combination of local-level meetings and local language radio is more effective at spreading credible word-of-mouth reports of positive activities than a `foreign' UN radio station. A strategy to communicate the intentions and early activities of the international community to the national, regional and international media will also be required.

Planning, Implementation and Delivery Arrangements

  7.  An Integrated Mission Task Force (IMTF), comprising senior representatives of key UN Departments and Agencies, has been set up at the UN Headquarters in New York. Working under the supervision of UNSRSG Brahimi, a mirror of the IMTF (a 'Transition Recovery Office') should be set up inside Afghanistan to be responsible for field delivery. To help the IMTF, a Planning Task Group has been established (DFID cofunded) at the New York University Center on International Cooperation. The IMTF could produce a joint Strategic Framework building on the above outline and existing data. This would set out the detailed roles and responsibilities of international actors, and a work programme. The IMTF is monitoring the rapid-response readiness of the key UN agencies. For illustration, roles of UN and other agencies (often in partnership with NGOs) could be as follows:

    —  UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)—Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery—working closely with DPKO (Department for Peacekeeping Operations) and DPA (Department for Political Affairs): civilian/military security arrangements; resettlement and reintegration of displaced people and former combatants; institution building; supervision of human resources for municipal administration; administrative support to interim government

    —  UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (as part of the Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan): mine/UXO awareness, demarcation and clearance

    —  WFP (World Food Programme): food delivery and distribution; supplementary feeding centres in hospitals and children's centres; common logistic services (transport, communications)

    —  UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees): continue to care for refugees in camps; protection; monitoring of population movements; transport, logistics and community resettlement of returnees

    —  FAQ (Food and Agriculture Organisation): food security; agriculture rehabilitation

    —  UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund): delivery of emergency winterisation supplies; child protection; primary education (with UNESCO); medical supplies and establishment of clinics for primary and maternal healthcare (with WHO and UNFPA/Population Fund); nutrition (with WFP)

    —  WHO (World Health Organisation): disease control; public health; hospital day supplies; essential medical supplies; training of health workers

    —  OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs): information mapping system for all needs assessments and agency/NGO activities

    —  QHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights): human rights and gender integration into all recovery activities; begin consideration of the case for different types of reconciliation/justice mechanisms

    —  UNCHS (Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)): housing, water and sanitation in urban areas

    —  IOM (International Organisation for Migration—NB not a UN agency): repatriation of qualified Afghan nationals; registration, assisted transportation and resettlement of displaced people

    —  ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross): detainees; protection; provision of relief supplies and support to health services

    —  INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organisations): service delivery in all the above areas, acting under the Strategic Framework

    —  EC (European Commission): financing; use of Rapid Reaction Mechanism to support infrastructure repair, demining, and local policing; humanitarian aid delivery (ECHO); administrative support to interim government

    —  Bilateral Donors: flexible financing and technical assistance to UN agencies, coordinated by the IMTF (see below).

    —  International Financial Institutions: financing and technical assistance to UN agencies and interim government

    —  Coalition forces: strengthened civilian-military coordination arrangements, including two-way information exchange and low-profile logistical support to relief/recovery operations if required

  8.  As indicated already, the credibility and chances of success of the recovery effort in Afghanistan will require the involvement and leadership of Afghans themselves. Work is ongoing to identify skilled Afghans in the regional and wider diaspora who are willing to return to work on reconstruction and recovery. Through IOM, DFID/CHAD will support the linkage of existing diaspora networks into the UN/IMTF Planning Task Group and the creation of a system by which to match and place qualified Afghan nationals into opportunities as they arise (where appropriate skills are lacking locally).


  9.  Multiple bilateral funding arrangements are inefficient and impose an unacceptable administrative burden on implementing agencies. However, UN and World Bank Trust Fund arrangements have also proved inefficient and slow (because of bureaucratic requirements and restrictions imposed by agencies and donors). East Timor and Kosovo taught that the concept of a single `catch-all' trust fund, however appealing on paper, only hampers efforts in practice. One possibility (to speed up financing processes) would be for donors to check with a Resource Allocation Unit in the IMTF on where pledges should be directed. Once agreed, donors would disburse directly to the agencies concerned. Whichever combination of interim financing arrangements is decided upon, the emphasis should be on effectiveness and efficiency (eg by agreeing a single framework for reporting and accountability with all donors), and mechanisms should allow a straightforward transition to long-term resourcing. NB Initially, the lack of established institutions will limit the quantities of funding that can be disbursed and absorbed.

  10.  Reporting and accounting arrangements should be as simple as possible. Proactive outreach officers could be tasked to help local NGOs and community groups access funds to meet identified needs, and to assist monitoring and evaluation.

  11.  The IMTF running costs would be met through the UN Regular or Peacekeeping Budget (depending on whether a Peacekeeping Force is established). The costs of an effective Recovery Plan will be high: provisional estimates suggest $400m would be required if all the scheduled activities of the 100 day plan are fully implemented (the IMTF will be conducting its own estimate, drawing on further analysis, for example from the World Bank and UNDP).

Next Steps

  12.  DFID will continue to support the efforts of Ambassador Brahimi and the IMTF to develop and implement their plans (through agencies) as effectively and efficiently as possible. Key UN agencies are making arrangements for rapid re-deployment of international staff and equipment, following rapidly conducted security assessments. DFID has offered practical assistance—logistics, personnel, cash—to help the UN to move quickly into Afghanistan.

  13.  To back up the UN, DFID is pre-positioning a field support team of six humanitarian specialists, with communications and logistics equipment, in Termez, Uzbekistan, to move forward to Mazar-I-Sharif as soon as security conditions allow. This team will conduct emergency assessments, ensure the expansion of humanitarian aid delivery and direct the initiation of quick impact programmes along the lines described above. They will also provide practical support to key UN agencies such as OCHA as they are established.

  14.  As the international agencies re-establish themselves, DFID will continue the rapid assessment and funding of key agencies' proposed activities in accordance with relief and recovery priorities.

Conflict & Humanitarian Affairs Dept

UK Department for International Development


13 November2001

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