( By Shahid Qureshi ) – The London Conference on Afghanistan will take place on 4 December 2014, co-hosted by the governments of the UK and Afghanistan. Associated events will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 3 December. The conference will provide a platform for the government of Afghanistan to set out its vision for reform and for the international community to demonstrate enduring solidarity and support for Afghanistan.
In the lead up to the Conference, three associated events will be taking place:
- Ayenda (“Future” in Dari), a civil society event organised by the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG)
- a ministerial discussion on regional economic cooperation
- a roundtable discussion on private sector development
The UK government has been a leading partner in helping develop and build a viable Afghan State.
2014 has been a pivotal year for Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans turned out to vote in the country’s historic presidential elections in April and June, which culminated in September in the formation of a National Unity Government and Afghanistan’s first ever democratic transition of power.
This year also marks the end of the international combat mission in Afghanistan. Since July 2013, the Afghan National Security Forces have been in the lead in providing security across the country, including throughout two rounds of elections.
As this important year draws to a close, the London Conference on Afghanistan will provide an opportunity for the Government of Afghanistan to set out its commitment to reform, looking ahead in particular to the “Transformation Decade” through to 2024. It is also a moment for the international community to signal its solidarity with the Afghan people, and to reaffirm its long-term commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s peaceful development.
Earlier this year the UK Government hosted the NATO Summit in Wales where they agreed a strategic long-term partnership between NATO, its partner nations and Afghanistan and financial support for the Afghan National Security Forces (known as Resolute Support Mission) until 2017. This conference will build on those commitments made in Wales..
At the Tokyo Conference in July 2012, the international community pledged ongoing support for the development of Afghanistan based on an agreement known as the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF). Under the TMAF, the Afghan Government also promised to implement reforms. Following the Tokyo Conference, it was agreed that a series of Ministerial-level meetings on Afghanistan would be held in order to support progress. The UK offered to host the first of these Ministerial level meetings, which will be the London Conference on Afghanistan.
The government of Afghanistan, with our support and that of our international partners, has a lot to be proud of. Over the past 13 years, Afghanistan has made significant progress in education, healthcare, economic growth and women’s rights. With the support of UK aid and funding from the wider international community:
- 6.7 million children are now in school (including more than 2.5 million girls)
- more than 60% of the population live within 2 hours walking distance of a healthcare facility
- more than half of pregnant women receive antenatal care
The UK has already made a long-term commitment to support Afghanistan’s development, and has pledged £178 million per year of development assistance to Afghanistan up to 2017.
However Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world and continued improvements in health, education and the economy are still needed. The international community’s support is crucial to help the government of Afghanistan protect the hard won gains of the last decade.