The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

What the U.N. Reports About Governance in Afghanistan

The rising tide of violence in Afghanistan identified in the United Nations’ most recent quarterly country report got the lion’s share of the press attention

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jun 21, 2010

The rising tide of violence in Afghanistan identified in the United Nations’ most recent quarterly country report got the lion’s share of the press attention this weekend. But check out what it says about governance in the country. Given that out-governing the insurgency is central to NATO strategy in Afghanistan, it seems strange to treat governance as an afterthought, even when remembering how weak and inconsistent Afghan governance has been so far. So:

Over the reporting period, the Government made significant advances in prioritizing the Afghanistan National Development Strategy and putting in place the public financial management and administrative capacity for its implementation ahead of the Kabul Conference. The establishment of three development clusters is focusing the Government efforts on a targeted set of reconstruction and development priorities aimed at supporting economic growth and job creation, particularly for people living outside of urban centres. Exceeding initial expectations at the London Conference, 18 ministries are now engaged in the agriculture and rural development cluster (led by the Minister of Agriculture), the human resources development cluster (led by the Minister of Education), and the infrastructure and economic development cluster (led by the Minister of Mines). A fourth cluster, governance, has also been established but has yet to elaborate a prioritized sector strategy and, as of 1 June, the cluster leadership has not yet been clarified. The cluster approach is demonstrating national leadership and ownership in the formulation of a coherent response to Afghanistan’s development needs. It also brings together ministries in a collaborative effort to define shared objectives, accompanied by priority activities and costed national programmes. UNAMA has played an active role in supporting the development of the clusters and priorities.

All of which sounds encouraging. But look what picture emerges when UNAMA, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, drills down below the national level:

The ability of the Government to accurately plan, monitor and evaluate development at the subnational level faces capacity and resource limitations. UNAMA, in cooperation with United Nations agencies in the field, carried out a snapshot survey on the capacity of provincial sector working groups to deliver services and to coordinate development activities. The UNAMA survey identified four trends in subnational development. First, the capacity of subnational government to coordinate through the sector working groups is limited in many locations where mechanisms are operating below expectations. Second, coordination and implementation of sector strategies was strongest in health and education and relatively weak in private sector development. Third, in several provinces with significant security challenges, there were no sector working groups or similar

coordination structures. Finally, where capacity-building programmes had been carried out, whether by United Nations agencies or other partners, sector working groups demonstrated improved abilities to plan, coordinate and monitor sectoral activities.

And that’s with the governance sector working group not even fully articulated. Gen. Petraeus has recently been testifying to Congress about getting the “inputs” right, but when it comes to governance, not all the inputs have been clearly established, despite billions in U.S. aid to governance development and the recent “civilian uplift” of non-military advisers.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference ( On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg

In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |