Pursuant to the task/mandate given by the ECO Head of States/Governments in their 13th Summit held in Islamabad on 2017 and the 25th and 26th Regional Planning Council (RPC) meetings held in Tehran on 2015, this ECO Advocacy Programme for Afghanistan (EAPA) has been developed by the ECO Secretariat and adopted by the 23rd Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting held on 17 April 2018 in Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan.
The EAPA, as outlined below, will be the main ECO agreed framework for assisting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its efforts for stability, prosperity, economic growth and sustainable development.
EAPA will follow 2 distinct principles. First, it will be in place to complement existing supporting programmes for Afghanistan conducted in other contexts (such as Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process and its CBMs; RECCA; UN and its agencies; etc., as well as bilateral initiatives) rather than to repeat or compete them (Complementary Principle). Second, EAPA-related activities will be conducted in recognition of the fact that Afghanistan is still an aid dependent country and has huge infrastructure, institutional and human capacity gaps to be addressed and needs the favourable conditions to be allocated to Afghanistan to the extent possible (Favourable Measures Principle).
- Goals and Objectives
The main purpose of the ECO Advocacy Programme for Afghanistan (EAPA) is to utilize available activities, capacities, facilities, advantages and resources within ECO contexts to assist Afghanistan in its efforts for stability, reconstruction, economic growth and sustainable development. In doing so, lessons learned during the functioning of the “ECO Fund for Reconstruction of Afghanistan” as well as experiences gained in other ECO supporting programmes for Afghanistan are taken into account.
- Activities to be undertaken
The EAPA consists of set of activities, programmes and projects which will be defined/customized to address needs and requirements of relevant areas/sectors in Afghanistan as explained below:
3.1. ECO Vision 2025
The ECO Secretariat will define activities in line with the activities foreseen under the 6 priority areas of the “Vision Implementation Framework” (trade; transport and connectivity; energy; tourism; economic growth and productivity; and social welfare and environment) to benefit Afghanistan’s economic growth and development efforts. Accordingly, a set of customized activities will be elaborated for action with their defined expected outcomes and time spans.
3.2. Capacity Building/Capacity Development Programmes
One of the main focuses of the EAPA would be the ways and means to create/strengthen capacities in target areas/sectors in Afghanistan. Capacity development should be an integral part of all ECO programmes for Afghanistan. ECO Secretariat would introduce a set of measures to this effect. These measures may have as their integral parts, among others, trainings, advisory missions, institutional capacity building programmes, etc.
Given the expanded relationship between ECO and its partners from within and outside United Nations, Secretariat should seek assistance/partnerships from relevant UN and non-UN partners in devising and implementing the technical and functional capacity development programmes for Afghanistan’s target areas and sectors.
3.3. Accession to ECO Agreements/Arrangements
There are a series of regional agreements/arrangements within ECO where sectoral cooperation among Member States are defined and warranted. These legal instruments are in different stages of implementation; some awaiting entering into force. It is expected that Member States including Afghanistan take the required measure for adhering to these instrument in order to enhance the regional cooperation in the specific fields for which these instruments have been concluded.
The Member States may in drafting new agreements/arrangements, consider special treatment/favourable conditions for Afghanistan. In this context it is also recommended that Member States in implementation of these agreements consider special treatment for Afghanistan.
3.4. Joint Project with International Organization
The projects that are developed under the Advocacy Programme may jointly be implemented with the cooperation of international organizations active in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The financial resources under the ECO Fund for Afghanistan may also be used for joint implementation of the projects with the cooperation of other donors.
- Implementation and Timetable
To facilitate implementation of projects, internal arrangements in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should be envisaged, including, setting up a Special Unit in the Ministry of Economy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to coordinate the ECO related activities with the focal point in relevant ministries, agreed ToR for selection of projects and proper procedure for prioritizing, shortlisting and proposing of all priority project proposals to the ECO Secretariat.
The EAPA will be implemented through activities, measures and treatment as referred to under sub-articles 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 above. The detailed activities/measures, to be defined by the Secretariat to form the integral parts of the EAPA as they are approved by CPR.
The EAPA will be in place until and unless COM decides otherwise.
- Financial Resources
Building on the lessons learned from the performance of the “ECO Fund for Reconstruction of Afghanistan”, it is agreed to expand the scope of the Fund from reconstruction projects to capacity building and capacity development measures. Accordingly, the Fund is renamed as “ECO Fund for Afghanistan”. Also the bank account may either be transferred to the Habib Bank branch in Kabul or an account may be opened at any other Private or Public bank in Afghanistan for smooth transactions of remitted contributions.
ECO Secretariat with the assistance of Member States will elaborate new modalities for the Fund to be submitted to CPR for adoption. The Fund shall be open to contributions from non-ECO countries/institutions as well.
The Fund Modality may also consider the possibility of implementation of the projects by the implementing agencies of the contributing states, including direct funding to the extent that their share of contribution to the Fund is concerned.
As for the monitoring of the projects, the Member States may also work out the best possible mechanism with the assistance of the financial experts.
Revitalization of the Fund may require holding of pledging meetings to which the Member States and possible donors are invited to consider the projects and the needs assessment done for their implementation.
- Review Mechanism
The “ECO Afghanistan Committee” should be established to make necessary EAPA monitoring and review exercise. The Committee will consist of representatives of all Member States under the co-chairmanship of Afghanistan and country holding the COM chairmanship.
The Committee will hold its regular meetings on the sidelines of the annual RPC meetings. The Committee may have extra meetings, if required. The Committee is responsible body for implementation of the EAPA. It submits annual reports to COM.
The terms of reference of the Committee will be prepared by the Secretariat for CPR adoption. This Committee will be responsible to keep liaison with the relevant focal point to be appointed by the Government of Afghanistan to deal with matters related to ECO Advocacy Programme for Afghanistan (EAPA).