International DevelopmentFurther written evidence submitted by Human Rights Watch

(1) It seems like a very important moment for some really clear assessment of what has and hasn’t worked and how far we’ve come—and not come—in terms of the impact of international support on improving women’s rights in Afghanistan. The ideal approach would be a multi-donor analysis and planning process that produced a plan for how the international community should support women’s rights in Afghanistan 2015–20. Such a plan should take into account a deep analysis of lessons learned and be as specific as possible with budgets, locations of schools, etc. The approach that might work best would be a team of experts—in, say, primary education, secondary and higher education, women’s health, violence against women, and legal services—who could be recruited and spend three months in Afghanistan researching and producing the plan by the end. The effort would require a lead donor, though the goal should be to get as many donors involved as possible, and DFID seems like a nature potential lead donor because of its prominence and commitment to research-based approaches.

(2) An issue of key concern is the present state of the AIHRC, which has been significantly disabled in its functions since the December announcement that three commissioners would be fired. As you know, there has since been no action by the president in making new appointments, the commission is functioning with only five of its nine commissioners (a fourth was killed in 2011 and not replaced) and decision-making and institutional effectiveness is seriously undermined at a moment when the commission has never been more needed. Donors to the AIHRC should insist on immediate appointments of qualified people to all four vacant positions.

(3) On a related issue, release of the conflict mapping report prepared by the AIHRC and finished in December 2012 has been blocked by Karzai. This report represents a very important step in beginning a transitional justice process in Afghanistan and donors should insist that the AIHRC be empowered to go ahead with its release, including Karzai protecting their security.

(4) One of the interesting aspects of the Tokyo Conference was the emphasis on conditionality of aid. This could be a positive step, but only if it is codified in specific conditions with specific financial incentives attached. Without such specificity (which the MAF does not adequately provide) there will not be clear expectations for the Afghan government and there is a risk of donors using vague dissatisfaction with “progress on governance” as a justification to cut aid. Also, conditions should be attached to the amount of aid going to the Afghan government, not to the Afghan people. If the government is unable to meet conditions, donors should continue to provide all planned aid but do it through other means such as Afghan NGOs.

(5) Freedom of speech and of the media is an issue of increasing concern to HRW and we are asking donors to make it a priority to express opposition to the new draft media law. HRW did a statement on this.

(6) We are also pushing for an external oversight body to oversee all government and government-backed security forces, including the ALP. Such a body should be part of the AIHRC and should be empowered to receive and fully investigate and make public recommendations regarding individual complaints of abuses.

(7) The lack of meaningful action by the government to address use of torture in NDS and MoI jails following the Oct 2011 UNAMA report. This week’s rumours of Asadullah Khalid being the next NDS chief raise those concerns to a whole new level. We released a statement on this yesterday.

(8) Election preparations are a crucial priority and need to move forward very quickly. There is a need for a strong international observer presence to help reduce fraud.

September 2012

Prepared 24th October 2012