27 June 2007: Work to Promote Civil Society in Afghanistan Continues

Within theĀ Initiative to Promote Afghan Civil Society (I-PACS), led by Counterpart International, ICNL continues to build capacity among local partners. In May 2007, ICNL worked with local partners to conduct a large-scale conference on the NGO legal environment and NGO/government relations, and published the first-ever NGO Department Bulletin.

I. On May 22-23, ICNL hosted a conference on improving the NGO legal environment and NGO/government relations in Afghanistan. The planning and staging of the conference was the joint work of ICNL, Counterpart International, the Ministry of Economy, and the NGO coordination bodies. Participating in the conference were some 250 people, including government, NGO and donor representatives.

afghanistanSignificantly, representatives from the Ministry of Economy’s provincial departments in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces participated in the event; indeed, the conference was the first event that gathered such a large contingent of Ministry of Economy officials from the regions. The conference afforded the opportunity for constructive dialogue among the participants relating to the current state of civil society in Afghanistan, the most pressing challenges facing the NGO sector, practical aspects of the implementation of the applicable legal framework, and NGO/government cooperation.

II. ICNL published 1000 copies of the first-ever NGO Department Bulletin, also called the “Mirror”. The Mirror was prepared in collaboration between the Ministry of Economy, the NGO coordination bodies, and ICNL. The contents of the Bulletin, in focusing on the success stories of NGOs, will almost certainly improve the public image of the NGO sector. Just two years ago, the NGO sector was being routinely castigated for various abuses; the preparation and publication of the Bulletin demonstrates an improved attitude and promises to strengthen trust between the sectors still further. Although planned as a stand-alone publication, Deputy Minister Shahidi informed ICNL that he would like to make this a semi-annual publication.

ICNL is operating in Afghanistan through the USAID-funded Initiative to Promote Afghan Civil Society (I-PACS), which is led by Counterpart International. ICNL wishes to express its gratitude to USAID and Counterpart for their tremendous support and cooperation. In addition, ICNL expresses its appreciation to all local partners.