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Afghan Security Forces need urgent reforms say agencies

Posted by Ian Bray Senior Humanitarian Press Officer

17th May 2012

In Chicago, NATO must agree to commitments to ensure all Afghan forces can uphold law
and order for Afghan men and women and children.

Twenty leading international and Afghan NGOs today called on NATO and the Afghan
government to agree commitments ensure Afghan National Security Forces are able to protect
civilians and are held accountable if they commit abuses or violate international law. The
agencies also warn of a possible rise in crime and insecurity in the country if there are no jobs for
up to 120,000 troops due to be demobilized post 2014.

The organisations, including Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Refugee Council,
CIVIC, Christian Aid and the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security Afghanistan,
made the call as NATO states prepare for a summit in Chicago on 20-21 May to discuss their
future role in Afghanistan. They said that despite some positive efforts by NATO to improve the
quality of Afghan security forces, more action and safeguards were needed.

"Over the past decade the lives of millions of Afghan men, women and children have improved:
2.7 million girls go to school, women sit in parliament, Afghans can vote and there is better
access health services. But these improvements are continually threatened by insecurity and
weak rule of law. There are consistent reports of abuse by poorly trained and unaccountable
Afghan security personnel. NATO governments have an obligation to ensure that the security
forces they've helped create, fund, arm and train do not commit abuses and can serve all
Afghans. Security forces that are poorly trained, unaccountable and unable to uphold law and
order are bad for Afghans and bad for peace and security in the region" said Anjo van Toorn,
Oxfam's Regional Manager for South Asia.

The agencies also warned that proposals to slash the size of the Afghan National Security Forces
(ANSF) post-2014 could result in up to 120,000 men with weapons' training left unemployed
throughout the country, risking even further the safety of Afghans.

The NGOs called on NATO and the Afghan Government to: 

  • Ensure that all civilian casualties and allegations of abuse by Afghan security forces are
    effectively tracked and investigated by the Afghan government, and prosecuted where
    appropriate. This requires an effective civilian casualty tracking unit to monitor casualties
    attributed to the ANSF and help reduce the number of Afghan's harmed, as well as a
    complaints review body for all ANSF, which is well-publicised, easily accessible,
    transparent and independent.
  • Ensure there is a fully-funded demobilisation plan in place before any major Afghan troop
    cuts to address the high risk of increased crime and conflict.
  • Accelerate the recruitment of female security personnel, especially in the police, to ensure
    the security services are more accessible and responsive to women and girls.
  • Allocate additional resources to ensure improved ANSF vetting and expanded training on
    human rights, rule of law and women's rights

"In Chicago, NATO must heed what is at stake for Afghans. Efforts to improve the conduct and
accountability of the Afghan security forces must be urgently accelerated and women are critical to
this. The evidence is clear that women and girls are especially vulnerable to violence and
insecurity: their voices must be heard and be part of the solution for a sustainable peace and
prosperity," says Wahzma Frogh, Executive Direcor of Research Institute for Women, Peace and

"What happens to women in the coming years is key to the international community's legacy in

Note to editors

briefing paper to member NATO states was issued by the following organisations:

British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG); Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan
(CCA); Christian Aid; Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC); European Network of
NGOs in Afghanistan (ENNA); Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS); Human Rights
Research and Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC); Human Rights Watch (HRW); medica mondiale;
Medica Afghanistan; Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC); Norwegian Project Office / Rural
Rehabilitation Association for Afghanistan (NPO / RRA); Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC);
Open Society Foundations (OSF); OXFAM; Peace, Training and Research Organisation (PTRO);
Research Institute for Women Peace & Security - Afghanistan; Swedish Committee for
Afghanistan (SCA); The Liaison Office (TLO): Women for Women International UK:

Media contacts

To arrange an interview with agency spokespeople please contact:

Roslyn Boatman (in Kabul)
M:+93 796 738 402

Ian Bray (in Oxford)
M: +44 7721 461 339

Johanna Rodgers (in London)
M: +44 7590 710 942.

Blog post written by Ian Bray

Senior Humanitarian Press Officer

More by Ian Bray