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'Afghanistan faces the threat of terrorism, of those who want to wreck its progress, of those who want to turn the clock back, of those who want to say to the Afghan people who in their millions have voted for democratic freedom, you must not have it.

'This is a struggle that of course primarily concerns the Afghan people, but it is also a struggle that concerns all of us, and it is why we are here today and it is why we are determined to see this through. It is why, whatever your challenges, we will be there with you, at your side, helping you. It is in your interest to do so, it is in our interest to do so, it is in the interest of the whole of the international community. This is a struggle for freedom, and for moderation, and for democracy and we are with you in it.'

The Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at the opening of the London Conference on Afghanistan, 31 January 2006.

The Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, at the London Conference on Afghanistan, January 2006.
The Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, at the London Conference on Afghanistan, January 2006.

The UK is one of Afghanistan's closest allies and we strongly support the Government and people of Afghanistan as they seek to rebuild their country, rid it of the scourge of drugs, and establish a stable, prosperous and democratic society. The Prime Minister and President Karzai signed the Enduring Relationship declaration in July 2005 as the framework for our bilateral relations. Under the UK's EU Presidency Afghanistan and the EU agreed a Joint Declaration in November 2005, signed by the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, President Karzai and the EU's High Representative, Javier Solana, which set out the areas for future cooperation. And as G8 President, the UK co-hosted with the Government of Afghanistan, a Regional Economic Cooperation Conference in Kabul in December 2005, at which Afghanistan and her neighbours agreed the Kabul Declaration committing them to closer cooperation on trade and economic development.

PDF Joint Declaration of Enduring Relationship between the UK and Afghanistan  (PDF, 21.1K)
PDF Official Review of the Joint Declaration of an Enduring Relationship between the UK and Afghanistan: An Enduring Relationship Action Plan  (PDF, 26.4K)
PDF EU-Afghanistan Joint Declaration  (PDF, 124K)
PDF Kabul Declaration on Regional Economic Cooperation  (PDF, 66.4K)

The London Conference on Afghanistan

The UK played a major role in hosting and co-chairing the London Conference on Afghanistan (31 Jan - 1 Feb 2006). Attended by over 60 delegations, the London Conference successfully created the framework for the next phase of development in Afghanistan. It demonstrated the commitment of the Afghan Government and the international community to deepen their partnership, as we work together to build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. The launch of the Afghanistan Compact, and discussion of the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy and of the revised National Drug Control Strategy, all contributed to a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Many delegations made new financial pledges at the Conference, making available over $10.5 billion for the implementation of Afghan Government priorities. The Prime Minister told the Conference that for its part the UK would spend £500 million in assistance for Afghanistan over the next three years.

The Conference recognised the inter-connected nature of the challenges ahead, with progress on security, governance and development being mutually reinforcing. It recognised the cross-cutting nature and scale of the narcotics problem and the threat which this poses to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. On security issues, it was noted that Afghanistan continues to welcome support from international forces and the NATO-led ISAF expansion. On governance, there was broad support for sensitive handling of transitional justice issues and acknowledgement of the valuable role played by NGOs in Afghanistan's reconstruction. The Conference welcomed the Afghan Government’s plans for economic and social development by focusing on private sector development, investment in key infrastructural sectors such as power, water and roads, and by building human capacity. There was also useful discussion about improving aid effectiveness.

PDF The Afghanistan Compact  (PDF, 72K)

Political Developments

Since September 2001 the political situation in Afghanistan has changed dramatically. In December 2001 the United Nations chaired talks in Bonn, which culminated in an agreement providing a roadmap for a democratically elected government to lead Afghanistan. An Emergency Loya Jirga in June 2002 established a broad-based Transitional Administration to govern until democratic elections could be held. The Constitutional Loya Jirga agreed a new Constitution in January 2004 and Presidential elections took place on 9 October. Hamid Karzai was officially announced as the winner on 3 November with 55.4% of the vote. The first Parliamentary and Provincial elections in 36 years took place on 18 September 2005. The results for the Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) were announced on 12 November 2005. Nominations to the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga) were made by Provincial Councils on 27 November 2005. President Karzai completed the electoral process on 10 December 2005 appointing the final 34 members of the Upper House. The inaugural session of the Afghan National Assembly was held on 19 December 2005, marking the end of the Bonn process and a historic point on the road to recovery and reconstruction.

Security

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – currently-led by the UK’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Headquarters Group – has helped to improve the security situation both in Kabul and the regions through Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). These joint international civilian-military teams, currently numbering 23, are designed to help the central government increase its influence. On 1 May 2006 the UK assumed command of the PRT in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. The PRT, in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, is pursuing activities in the fields of governance, economic and social development, counter-narcotics and security/rule of law, and is supported by a 3,600 strong UK Task Force.

The UK plays a leading role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, including areas of Security Sector Reform - demobilising and disarming the militias, building an accountable national army and national police force under democratic control, tackling the Drugs trade, building a legal system - and in developing an independent media, supporting cultural development, and increasing the recognition of Human rights.

*
A joint-message from the Foreign, Defence, and International Development Secretaries concerning the recent deployment of UK Forces to Southern Afghanistan (24 July 2006)

Afghanistan and her Neighbours

Afghanistan and her immediate neighbours signed a Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration in December 2002. Regional economic cooperation was given another boost at a conference held in Kabul in December 2005, jointly co-chaired by Afghanistan and the UK (in its capacity as G8 chair). The conference resulted in a Kabul Declaration, which set out areas for future regional activity and a process for carrying this forward. Along with the UN, European Union and the international community, the UK is closely engaged in assisting Afghanistan in its reconstruction efforts.

PDF Kabul Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations  (PDF, 31.6K)
PDF Kabul Declaration on Regional Economic Cooperation  (PDF, 66.4K)

We would welcome feedback from the members of the public on the information provided here.

Please send any comments or suggestions to: afghanistan.group@fco.gov.uk

Further background information

Afghanistan Afghanistan Country Profile

Afghanistan Country Map (PDF, 1MB)