NGOs Critical to the Rebuilding of Afghanistan

15 May 2003

Much of the humanitarian and development aid flowing to Afghanistan is being and will be implemented through international and Afghan NGOs. Because the current regulatory framework is inadequate, there have arisen a variety of problems relating to the registration, activities, and supervision of NGOs, which have led to an erosion of trust between the government and NGO sector. The lack of adequate regulation has led to repeated government efforts to enact regressive legislation, which would significantly hamper the ability of NGOs to contribute to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. With the appropriate enabling legal environment in place, NGOs will be able to support and complement governmental efforts to provide health, education, agricultural, and social services to the people of Afghanistan.

At the invitation of the Ministries of Planning, Reconstruction, Justice and Rural Development, ICNL began an NGO Law Reform Project in September 2002. The goal of the Project has been and remains to prepare legislation that provides sufficient legal space for NGOs, while ensuring appropriate standards of accountability and transparency. Highlights of ICNL involvement include:

  • The formation of a cross-sectoral legislative drafting group, including NGO representation;
  • The preparation of progressive draft legislation which resulted from meetings with the legislative drafting group;
  • The circulation of this draft legislation to the government and broader NGO community for feedback and comment;
  • The revision of the draft legislation in February 2003 and the submission of the draft law to the inter-ministerial NGO Commission.

In April 2003, the Ministry of Planning requested that ICNL return to Afghanistan as soon as possible to assist in finalizing the NGO legislation. ICNL is currently planning to return in late May 2003 and is hopeful that it can assist in the adoption of enabling NGO legislation. Properly drafted and implemented, a sound legal framework will empower NGOs, in collaboration with the government and other progressive elements in society, to provide a means for direct development assistance to flow effectively to the people of Afghanistan, and enable the people to participate directly and productively in the economic and social advancement of their families and communities.