The Ambassadorial Anti-Corruption Group* is deeply concerned about the slowdown in Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts, as documented by the recently published UNAMA annual anti-corruption report. Addressing widespread corruption is crucial for sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. The upcoming peace talks require all parties to demonstrate their commitment to integrity, accountability and the rule of law by concrete actions rather than polarization through mutual accusations of corrupt practices.
Continued delays in establishing the strategic and institutional Anti-Corruption framework are of serious concern. The lack of effective investigations and prosecutions, in particular of high-level suspects, is also worrisome and we urge thorough investigation of the multiple allegations of misuse of public funds. It is paramount that these shortcomings are addressed to provide the necessary confidence and assurance for Afghan citizens. This is also important in the run-up to the Pledging Conference planned to take place in Geneva.
We welcome H.E. President Ghani’s assurances that anti-corruption will be high on the political agenda. We urge the Government to deliver on these assurances, by committing to measurable targets, such as empowering the Supreme Audit Office and swiftly establishing the Anti-Corruption Commission. While relying on an interim document to fill immediate gaps, within one year, the Government should adopt a genuine anti-corruption strategy building on a thorough assessment of the previous strategy through an inclusive consultation process.
We also expect substantial progress on prosecution and enforcement of court orders and warrants, particularly in high-level cases and on strengthening of the capacity for effective, impartial and transparent implementation of policies and strategies. Findings of investigations by review bodies must be public. Institutions must be competent, independent and transparent and appointments to the new Government and related institutions, as well as their future policies, must be guided by principles of good governance, rule of law and accountability.
International partners have been mobilising significant resources in support of the government in the fight against corruption and it is essential to assure donors that funds are being used efficiently and for the greater good. To see reforms fade or fail now would also mean a loss of these investments. Therefore, the international partners will carefully follow the progress made. At this point, a strong and positive signal is needed.
The international community stands by the Government of Afghanistan and its people in putting the fight against corruption at the heart of the reform agenda for the new government, as we work together to address the severe impacts of COVID19 and move towards the start of Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
* The Ambassadorial Anti-Corruption Group is comprised of the Heads of Mission for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Denmark, Germany, Japan, United States of America, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, World Bank, NATO Senior Civilian Representative, Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, United Kingdom (UK), and European Union (EU). It is co-chaired by EU and UK and is convened bi-monthly.