Candace Karp, Special Assistant to the President of Afghanistan's Senior Economic Advisor
Mark S. Ward, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia and Near East, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Alexander Thier, Senior Rule of Law Advisor, Rule of Law Program, US Institute of Peace
Michael Lund, Consulting Program Manager, Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity, Woodrow Wilson Center; Senior Associate for Conflict and Peacebuilding, Management Systems International, Inc.
Panelists at the February 27, 2007 event entitled "Linking Security and Development in State Building: Recent Lessons from Afghanistan" reflected on the experience of post-conflict state-building in Afghanistan and examined recent efforts to forge new linkages between security, humanitarian, and development actors. Hosted by the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity, the event marked the third in the forum series entitled "What Really Works in Preventing and Rebuilding Failed States." Panelists discussed the various challenges of integrating security and development into a cohesive strategy, the extent to which such strategies have been carried out, and the impact of these strategies on the process of moving peace forward in Afghanistan.
Candace Karp provided a brief update on the situation in Afghanistan and assessed the effectiveness of joint civil-military relationships in linking security and development. Karp identified a growing insurgency in the southern and eastern provinces as one of the primary threats to security, development, and state building efforts. She explained that the Afghan government has recently become vulnerable to public skepticism and loss of popular support as a result of corruption, impunity, and the slow pace of service provision to rural areas. However, the increasing role of the government in the state-building process and the subsequent creation of government-led and -endorsed planning mechanisms to facilitate reconstruction and development have transformed the civil-military environment. Civil-military relations in Afghanistan are no longer characterized by the debate pertaining to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the military's involvement in development activities. Instead, the international military presence is strengthening the process of state-building by identifying Afghanistan's development needs and establishing a list of provincial development priorities. Despite continuing tensions between the military and NGOs, Karp commended Afghanistan on the progress it has made since 2001.
Mark Ward described the close working relationship between the various actors, specifically USAID, the international donor community, the Afghan government, the US government, the US military, and NATO, and the effects of this collaboration on USAID's priorities. Ward noted, for example, that USAID's advisors provide important development information to top officers in order to ensure that military reconstruction is as developmentally sound as possible and that military funds are spent wisely. Cooperation with the military, according to Ward, has refocused attention on the need for more paved roads with the intention of improving infrastructure, local governance, and economic prosperity. Ward added that coordination with donors has influenced priorities in the areas of counter-narcotics and justice-sector reform. Finally, Ward commented on the contributions of the Afghan government in establishing local governance, capacity building, infrastructure, and rural development as top priorities on USAID's development agenda. He concluded that through a process of increased collaboration and coordination, USAID has developed a comprehensive set of priorities that reflects the interests of the different stakeholders.
Focusing on three key dimensions, context, commitment, and investment strategy, Alexander Thier addressed whether the overall resource priorities among the various sectors have been adequately matched to the threats, needs, and capacities of the country in the last few years. Looking first at context, Thier emphasized that in 2001, Afghanistan was emerging from twenty-five yeas of conflict and was at the bottom of the Human Development Index among the poorest countries in the world. Working within this context, Thier identified increased security, provision of public goods to the rural areas, and rebuilding governance and legitimacy of the central government as critically important to ensuring security and sustainable development. However, Thier noted that the international community failed to provide such services and consequently compromised national security and reinforced regional legitimacy. In fact, having examined the investment strategy for the last five years in Afghanistan, Thier observed that the foreign aid budget was dramatically under the military budget for Operation Enduring Freedom, demonstrating that the international community was more committed to ensuring the fall of the Taliban than engaging in the resulting nation-building effort. As a result, the budget disparities led to serious gaps in the justice sector, human resources development and civil service. Thier concluded that the recent shift in political attention away from Afghanistan to Iraq has further reduced the resources dedicated to development and state-building.
Drafted by Leadership Project Staff Georgina Petrosky and Nicole Moler x 4083