Briefing | Sept. 20, 2016

Civil Society Anti-Corruption Recommendations for the 2016 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Global Witness, along with our partners Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Transparency International, and the Open Contracting Partnership, calls on the Afghan government to adopt these practical anti-corruption recommendations

 On 5 October 2016, the European Union and the government of Afghanistan will co-host the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, where the government of Afghanistan will set out its vision on reform, and the international community will set out their future political and financial commitments to Afghan peace, state-building and development. It is essential that the Afghan government addresses anti-corruption measures at this conference. 

Along with our civil society partners Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Transparency International, and the Open Contracting Partnership, Global Witness has developed practical, specific, time-bound, and measurable recommendations for a credible anti-corruption strategy for Afghanistan and calls on the Afghan government to adopt these at the Brussels Conference. 

The detailed policy proposals are available to download in the resources tab on this page.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index assesses that Afghanistan is the third most corrupt country in the world, and the linkages between the ongoing conflicts there, transnational crime (including narcotics), illegal migration, and political instability are well documented.

The Afghan government has made anti-corruption a key priority in its draft communique and the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), due to be unveiled in its final form in Brussels in October.  The ANPDF and the communique recognize the role corruption plays in Afghanistan’s current precarious political and security situation and provides a broad-brush outline of what Afghanistan must do to build up the legitimacy of the government and provide a secure environment conducive to economic development for its people.

The civil society benchmarks Global Witness and its partners are proposing here  overlap with those stated in the Afghan government draft communique and ANPDF, including judicial reform, anti-corruption bodies and institutions, procurement, security sector reform, transparency in the extractives sector, an improved business environment, and the necessity of civil society involvement in reform processes and oversight.

What are missing in the Afghan government’s draft documents are concrete benchmarks with which Afghan citizens can evaluate the reform platform of their government over time.  Likewise, international donors are left without the specificity required to channel their aid and technical assistance.  While the communique and ANDPF are necessarily broad, the civil society benchmarks should be made a part of an annex or other associated document by the Afghan government as part of their larger commitments.

Additionally, while the Afghan government has laudably committed to the standards of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), it has failed to bind itself to other international standards of anti-corruption, transparency, and reform.  They include the Open Government Partnership, the Open Contracting Principles (and its associated data standards), the Arusha Declaration of the World Customs Organization, and the Addis Tax Initiative. 

Other fragile and conflict-torn states have signed onto these standards; Afghanistan signing on and implementing them would build confidence in Afghan citizens and the international community that Afghanistan was indeed moving forward with a credible, legitimate, time-bound reform process after years in which there has been little meaningful action despite binding commitments being made at successive international summits.

The commitments made by President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah are important in order to achieve the Afghan government’s three pillars of its partnership over the course of its so-called “Transformation Decade” through 2021 of Afghan-led state and institution building, sustained international support and funding, and regional and international support towards peace and economic cooperation processes.  What are needed are practical and time-bound commitments like these to turn pillars and promises into credible commitments and actions.

Image: copyright Ian Barbour, Creative Commons 


  • Jodi Vittori