Sumario: January 18, 2002: EU TO CO-CHAIR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION STEERING GROUP (ARSG) PLEDGING CONFERENCE (Brussels)
Commissioner Chris Patten will represent the European Commission at the upcoming Tokyo ARSG pledging conference on January 20-21, 2002, to which 65 countries have been invited to participate, along with the UN, international financial institutions, international aid organizations and NGOs. The Afghan Interim Authority will also be represented.
The European Union is a joint Co-Chair of the ARSG, represented by the Commission and the Presidency; the other co-chairs are the US, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
On December 20-21, 2001, the EU co-hosted a successful ARSG Conference in Brussels to discuss a common and coordinated approach to international contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. In particular, the Conference agreed that the international community will contribute reconstruction assistance within a single needs assessment framework, as well as on options for financing mechanisms (including a Trust Fund), and on the role and membership of an Implementation Group to coordinate on the ground, including with the Afghan Interim Authority. The Commission was also able to sign a € 2.5* million financing agreement with the UN Development Program (UNDP) as a contribution to its Trust Fund in support of the Interim Authority.
Since then, a joint team comprised of experts from the World Bank, the UNDP and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has completed a preliminary needs assessment for the reconstruction (excluding humanitarian aid) of Afghanistan; these organizations now work on the "base case" assumption that US$ 9-12 billion will be necessary for the next five years.
At Tokyo, the EU Member States and the Commission will make a combined multi-annual pledge for the year 2002 on the basis of this assumption. Already, the EU budget for 2002 provides for some €200 million in reconstruction on top of ongoing humanitarian assistance. An initial amount of €25 million is foreseen in humanitarian aid for 2002.
The EU expects other donors to play their part; in particular it will urge equitable burden sharing between the four co-chairs. Further, it wants these pledges to send a strong political message of support to the Afghan Interim Authority and the people of Afghanistan, and it underlines that this help will be conditional on a positive contribution by all the parties of Afghanistan to the process and goals agreed in Bonn: promoting national reconciliation and establishing lasting peace, stability, respect for human rights and a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.
In a related development, a European Commission Office will start its operation in Afghanistan on February 1, 2002, to ensure that the various instruments for reconstruction and rehabilitation are used to their maximum effectiveness. This office will be in addition and complementary to ECHO's already established presence in the country.
*€1=$0.88 (January 17, 2002)