Event Reports

Afghanistan in Transition - Governance, Counter-corruption and Development

Workshop

On 31 January - 1 February 2011 the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Transparency International United Kingdom (TI UK) held a workshop on “Afghanistan in transition - Governance, counter corruption and development”. Over 50 security experts from British and German ministries, think tanks as well as international institutions, such as NATO and the UN, attended the second of the series of three seminars.

The transitional strategy in Afghanistan expires in 2014. The international community as well as President Hamid Karzai hope that the Afghans by then will have taken “the driver’s seat”. In the light of the international community’s lack of success to introduce functioning institutions, a legal system and countering pervasive corruption in the past decade, the transitional strategy’s deadline can be regarded as an ambitious goal. According to Transparency International’s corruption perception index 2010, the country is on the second to last place together with Myanmar and scored only slightly better than Somalia. Not only large parts of the nation’s political and economical sector are subject to corruption, this also holds true with regards to Afghan-based international organisations and troops.

In spite of such challenges, Afghanistan can be seen as offering hope and opportunities. First, corruption contradicts the traditions and habits of the Afghan people. In addition, more than half of the country’s 30m population is younger than the age of 17. For this reason, Afghanistan holds potentials that can be further enhanced e.g. by improving the educational system and schemes for stipends.

The purpose of the three workshops is to offer practical proposals to assist various decision makers and the international community to take forward the complex challenges of institutions building, development and countering corruption. This is the case for the second workshop in particular.

Throughout the workshop, it became clear that the areas of functioning governmental structures, political willingness and an independent legal system are interrelated, as all of them are essential in countering corruption. Yet, corruption not only hinders the development of such institutions, it also damages economic prosperity, a prerequisite for improving the living conditions of the Afghan people. Better living conditions are the foundation for trust and confidence in the new democratic structures. It was recognized that both those in position of responsibility in Afghanistan and the international community need to develop the strongest possible approach to work against corruption. At the same time, the participants admitted that not all of the necessary structures are yet in place.

On 11 April 2011, a third meeting on governance, corruption and development in Afghanistan will take place. It will discuss the draft recommendations. A final report will be presented in the capitals Berlin, London and Kabul in May and June 2011.