Skip to main content

UN chief warns donors against holding Afghan aid hostage with reform demands

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
July 8, 2012 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
A group photo session prior to the opening of the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo on July 8, 2012.
A group photo session prior to the opening of the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo on July 8, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • International donors pledge $16 billion in development aid to Afghanistan
  • The Afghan Central Bank estimates at least $6 billion a year is needed
  • The pledges do not include donations by the United States
  • The delivery of development aid coincides with the departure of NATO troops

(CNN) -- The United Nations chief warned international donors Sunday not to put complex reform demands on Afghanistan as it seeks billions in aid, saying the country was at a critical stage in its development.

Concerns over widespread corruption in Afghanistan have overshadowed recent efforts to raise reconstruction and development aid to help Afghans maintain fragile economic and social gains as U.S.-led NATO troops withdraw from the country.

"We must be fully conscious that Afghan institutions are still in their nascent stages," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told representatives of more than 80 nations and organizations attending an aid conference in Tokyo.

"The very programs which offer the best hope of sustainability of Afghan institutions should not be held hostage to complex preconditions."

The Afghan Central Bank estimates that at least $6 billion a year is needed over the next decade in economic investment in the country, which the World Bank describes as one of the 10 poorest in the world.

Clinton announces Afghan ally status

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about $16 billion was pledged for Afghanistan over four years by donors at the conference, though the amount did not include money from the United States because any foreign aid must be approved by Congress.

Whistleblower exposes abuse at hospital

"The United States will request from our Congress assistance for Afghanistan at or near the levels of the past decade through the year 2017," she said in remarks.

Doctor: Afghan patients beaten, starving

The United States has spent roughly $18.8 billion spent in aid to Afghanistan over the past decade, more than to any other country.

U.S. apology opens Afghan supply lines

Weariness over the decade-long war in Afghanistan and a global economic downturn are raising questions about whether donors will commit to large handouts over the next decade without substantial, substantive reform in Afghanistan.

At the meeting, Afghan President Hamid Karzai vowed the government was taking reform steps.

"I recognize, ladies and gentlemen, the success of our developing partnership will depend on our mutual ability to be accountable, and to prove our practices so the hard-earned dollars of your taxpayers are used effectively and transparently," Karzai said.

But Karzai has made promises of government reform before with little result. A majority of corruption cases have failed to yield prosecutions, and U.S. officials have said some of those investigated had close ties to Karzai.

Poverty and corruption are widespread in Afghanistan. It came in 172nd out of 187 countries in the United Nations' 2011 Human Development Index, which ranks nations based on life expectancy, education and living standards.

Video: Taliban shoot woman 9 times in public execution as men cheer

Questions were raised after the United Nations announced an investigation in June into its Afghanistan development fund that pays the salaries of Afghan police amid allegations of misuse of funds.

That same month, before the Afghan parliament, Karzai called for new government reforms and accountability.

"President Karzai has made a strong public commitment to stamping corruption, implementing key reforms, and building Afghanistan's institutions," Clinton said.

Helping Afghan mothers, babies survive

"We will support him and the government in that endeavor to enable Afghanistan to move toward self-reliance and away from dependence on donor assistance."

Moving from opium to saffron

Karzai told potential donors in Tokyo that Afghanistan's economy remains underdeveloped, its private sector was "embryonic" and its vast natural resources were largely untapped.

Civilians hurt by unexploded munitions

"Today, I request Afghanistan's friends and partners reassure the Afghan people that you will be with us as we seek to strengthen Afghanistan as a peaceful, democratic and self-reliant country," he said during prepared remarks.

"And to translate your commitments into tangible actions."

Clinton said she was pleased by the $16 billion in pledges, calling it "sustained economic support that will help Afghanistan meet its fiscal needs even as assistance declines."

Under a security pact with Afghanistan, nearly all U.S.-led NATO troops will withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.

The donations in development aid are in addition to more than $4 billion a year between 2015 and 2017 pledged by NATO allies in May to pay for the growth and training of Afghan security forces.

Taking place on the side at the meeting were anticipated three-way talks between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. In earlier comments, Clinton said there would be a meeting on the "ministerial level" between three countries.

Karzai and Clinton arrived at the Tokyo meeting a day after the secretary made a visit to Kabul where she announced the United States was naming Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally.

The relationship is beneficial during the transition as both nations prepare for post-2014, according to Clinton.

By granting such ally status, it makes Afghanistan eligible to receive military training and assistance, including expediting the sales and leasing of military equipment long after NATO troops leave.

Afghanistan joins Japan, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and Australia, among others, granted major non-NATO ally status by the United States. Unlike NATO allies of the United States, who are bound together by a joint defense pact, there is no mutual defense guarantee as a non-NATO ally.

Roadside bombs kill dozens in Afghanistan

U.S. designates Afghanistan a major ally, creates defense ties

Clinton stops in Afghanistan during marathon trip

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Afghanistan
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 0558 GMT (1358 HKT)
She was to be married off to pay for her father's debt -- here's her story.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
One music producer hopes to get out Afghanistan's youth vote with a song competition. CNN's Sherisse Pham reports.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 1211 GMT (2011 HKT)
Despite threats from the Taliban, Afghans turned out in large numbers to cast their vote for a new president and future.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 0527 GMT (1327 HKT)
It was not too long ago -- in 2001, prior to the U.S. invasion -- that Afghanistan's women were all but entirely marginalized.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
As Afghan voters prepare to go to the polls in a hugely important election, CNN looks at the main presidential candidates.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Despite the looming Taliban presence, Afghanistan could see its first democratic transfer of power, Peter Bergen writes.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 0603 GMT (1403 HKT)
As the U.S. prepares to withdraw troops, an Afghan Army commander says America's support remains critical.
April 2, 2013 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
CNN's Anna Coren reports on how U.S. Special Forces are not just fighting terrorists in Afghanistan.
May 24, 2013 -- Updated 0924 GMT (1724 HKT)
With U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, CNN's Anna Coren reports on a Taliban firefight lasting more than 90 minutes.
April 1, 2013 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
Mallika Kapur has the story of a young Afghan graffiti artist who, despite Taliban threats, pushes for free expression.
-- Updated GMT ( HKT)
For the first time, a Pakistan government served its full term and the lack of a military coup attempt shows government is more stable than many think.
February 16, 2013 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
President Obama has revealed new details about the troop withdrawal. But there are several key issues that still must be resolved.
February 11, 2013 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Author William Dalrymple's new book "Return of a King" looks at the history of foreign-led wars in Afghanistan.
CNN.com's 'Home and Away' initiative honors the lives of U.S. and coalition troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ADVERTISEMENT