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Milestones for Transition in Afghanistan 2012–2014

Report for Afghanistan Conference in Bonn, Germany, December 5, 2011

SOURCE: AP/Brennan Linsley

Afghan children stand near U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers jointly patrolling in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, September 5, 2011.

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On December 5, approximately 100 countries will meet for an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany. This occurs almost 10 years after the original Bonn conference that laid the groundwork for the current Afghan government.

Several weeks ago, the Center for International Peace Operations convened a group in Germany from the United States, Afghanistan, and around the world to make recommendations for policymakers at this conference. The group, of which I was a member, focused on specific recommendations to manage the transition process, or Enteqal, between now and 2014. While the official process undertaken by NATO-ISAF and the Afghan government has focused largely on security transfer from foreign forces to Afghan lead, the group expanded its purview to focus on recommendations in the economic and political spheres, recognizing that these areas will be as impacted by the transition as the security dimension.

This paper by the center outlines concrete recommendations in six areas: security, political settlement, economy, basic services, rule of law and justice, and civil society and media.

Some key highlights from the paper:

  • NATO forces should accelerate the transition to Afghan security lead, shifting their focus from combating the insurgency toward advising and assisting Afghan forces to do so.
  • The current size of the Afghan National Security Forces is financially unsustainable. One way to reduce these costs over the long term is to potentially transfer a significant number of forces to the reserve forces at a lower cost.
  • The Afghan Local Police should be dissolved and their functions progressively replaced by the Afghan National Security Forces.
  • An independent international mediator should be appointed to facilitate a political process aiming at building regional consensus toward a stable Afghanistan.
  • The processes and underlying assumptions of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program should be reconsidered, such as providing monetary incentives for reintegration.
  • An office should be established for the Taliban and other insurgent groups outside of Pakistan and Afghanistan to provide a location of negotiation.
  • The Afghan government and donors should decentralize budgeting and delivery of basic services.
  • The International Criminal Court should investigate violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed during the Afghan conflict.
  • Qualified and independent commissioners should be appointed immediately to the Independent Election Commission. Also, the Elections Complaints Commission should be re-established to ensure a peaceful political transition following the presidential and provincial council elections in 2014 and parliamentary elections in 2015. The IEC commissioners should initiate electoral reforms based on lessons learned from the 2009-2010 elections, including a comprehensive overhaul of the voter registry. The National Assembly should begin discussing election reform now.

Caroline Wadhams is a Senior Fellow at American Progress.

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