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International community and Afghan government fail Afghan people

Amnesty International has accused the international community and the Afghan government of not meeting their pledge to provide the Afghan people, particularly women and girls, with better security, more responsive governance, and sustainable economic development. The organisation made the accusation in a briefing paper issued on Wednesday ahead of the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan being held on Thursday in Paris. The Paris conference will bring together representatives of 80 donors and organizations operating in Afghanistan to review the implementation of the 2006 Afghanistan Compact Agreement. Amnesty International said that many of the benchmarks established for the Afghan government and its international supporters remain unmet. "The biggest advance in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban is that many Afghans now dare to hope for a better future," said Amnesty International. "But, six years after the international community helped bring President Hamid Karzai to power, Afghans face increasing insecurity, a burgeoning drug trade, lack of respect for rule of law and human rights, a weak and inept justice system, poor governance and endemic corruption." The Afghanistan Compact, agreed at an international conference held in London 31 January - 1 February 2006, identified three major areas of development for Afghanistan's future – security, governance (including rule of law and human rights) and economic development. It established benchmarks for performance in each area, to be met by the Afghan government as well as international donors. The Afghan government has put forward a new US$50 billion Afghan National Development Strategy that focuses on strengthening the Afghan government so it can deliver better governance and improve respect for human rights, bolster security and increase economic development. Amnesty International said that, while this new Afghanistan National Development Strategy is more realistic and detailed than its predecessors, it is still short of specific, credible benchmarks. "The donors themselves admit the 'serious funding gap' between what they promised the Afghan people and what they have delivered," said Amnesty International. "What makes it worse is that the international community and the Afghan government have focused on short-term stability and security by relying on ostensibly pro-government warlords and corrupt officials, instead of prioritizing human rights and the rule of law."   Amnesty International also called for better representation of Afghan civil society in monitoring and implementing the provisions of the Afghanistan Compact. "The real voice of the Afghan people is not always heard at important policy meetings," said Amnesty International. "The point of exercises like the Paris conference should be to support the Afghan people and their government's efforts and ability to uphold their human rights."