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Report / Feb. 26, 2014

Building For the Long-term

The Afghan government must act on governance measures to avoid resource curse.

‘Building for the Long-term’ is a Global Witness policy report which sets out recommendations for the Afghan Extractive Industries Development Framework (EIDF). The creation of the Framework was one of the key Afghan government commitments agreed at the 2012 Tokyo Conference.

The EIDF is a golden opportunity for Afghanistan to solidify its commitment to creating a governance regime for the extractives sector that meets and exceeds international best practice, as set out in the Tokyo declaration. The Afghan government has taken some positive steps in the last few years. The question is whether they will now follow through on that vision, and put in place the full range of basic measures that are needed to minimise the risk of natural resources fuelling conflict and corruption.

The report praised the Afghan government’s decision to publish almost all existing contracts in October 2012, and to become a candidate member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). But it highlighted some basic protections that were still missing, including:   

  • Transparency: publication of all extractive contracts and revenues; publication of the true, beneficial ownership of mining companies; and a requirement that companies carry out due diligence vetting on their supply chains and operations in Afghanistan.  
  • Open and competitive bidding: Clear rules for a transparent and impartial bidding process, with legal sanctions against officials who favour one company over another. 
  • Community relations: Strong community consultation and grievance resolution mechanisms that are also fair to companies, and which ensure communities benefit from mining.  
  • Security: making it illegal for formal security forces or informal armed groups to be involved in the extractives sector, and requiring security forces used to protect mine sites to operate in consultation with local communities and according to the strict rules.   

Many of these reforms would need to be implemented in the Afghan Mining Law. But these measures are easy wins for Afghanistan – relatively straightforward to implement, and attractive to responsible mining companies, but also vitally important against abuses that have done untold damage in Afghanistan and many other countries. Far from being an obstacle, good governance is essential if Afghanistan’s natural resources are to actually benefit the Afghan people.

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