Hamid Karzai brings home $16B in aid pledges

Hillary-Clinton-Hamid-Karzai.jpg U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai one day before the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. Photo by: US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan / CC BY-ND

After securing aid commitments for the country’s security and encouraging investments, Afghanistan was able to gain some $16 billion over four years in civilian aid pledges from the international community Sunday (July 8) — but not without conditions.

The pledges were made at the highly anticipated Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, which aimed to win donor funding for the country’s development following NATO troops’ exit in 2014. Pledges vary among countries, with some only reaffirming past commitments, and it is not clear which donor promised what. While the $16 billion overall commitment is included in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework that donors and Afghanistan promised to follow, a detailed breakdown is not provided.

What is certain is that the United States is not among those that pledged civilian aid at the conference. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will seek funding “at or near” current levels, subject to approval from the Congress.

Some of the donors that pledged support at the conference include:

Sweden, according to a U.S. official, also committed funds for the next 10 years. But this cannot be immediately verified.

The pledges, which some skeptics argue won’t be kept, come with conditions. The Afghan government must meet five goals set out in the framework:

  • Conduct “credible, inclusive and transparent” presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2015.

  • Respect people’s human rights, improve people’s access to justice (i.e., especially women) and fight corruption.

  • Improve management of public funds, including the recovery of $1 billion lost to corrupt activities at the Kabul Bank.

  • Raise revenue collection and improve budget execution.

  • Achieve “inclusive and sustained growth” by providing enough resources for health, education, environment and food security, and an enabling environment for the private sector.

The conditions are meant to push the Afghan government to fend off corruption, a long-standing donor concern. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recognized the need for such conditions and pledged to “ruthlessly pursue” good governance, accountability and aid effectiveness in his last two years in office.

But some continue to doubt Karzai’s ability to match his words with action. Last year, Afghanistan was named third most corrupt country in a Transparency International ranking.

Further, many in the international community do not believe donors will cut off aid to Afghanistan if the goals are not met. Kabul, the Guardian says, appears to have suffered little from “ignoring” donors’ calls against corruption.

Prior to the conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community not to hold programs that “offer best hope” to Afghanistan “hostage to complex preconditions.” He said Afghan institutions are “still in their nascent stages,” CNN reports.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.