2014 is another defining year for Afghanistan with the upcoming Presidential Elections (April) and the drawdown of NATO Forces (December). At the same time, the Clingendael Institute - with financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission – continues to support the building of capacity for Afghan civil servants, diplomats and international civilian crisis management staff.
The Netherlands and Afghanistan
Following the fall of the Taliban and the Western stabilisation and reconstruction effort, the Netherlands played an active role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was one of the main recipients of Dutch development assistance while, at the same time, the Dutch Armed Forces significantly participated in the ISAF Mission, alongside other contributions of military, police and civilian experts to international organisations in the region – notably the NATO, EU and UN.
Diplomatic and Civil Service Capacity-building
Since 2005, the Clingendael Institute plays an important role in this post-conflict reconstruction effort of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Clingendael Academy has been providing training in diplomatic skills and foreign policy practice to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. First as part of a project addressing the wider region, and since 2012 as a bilateral effort. By the end of 2014, 60 talented young diplomats will have been trained at Clingendael and have returned home with first-hand experience of living and working in the Netherlands.
For strategic policy planners from different Afghan Ministries, the Clingendael Academy developed a two-weeks tailor-made course in policy development and implementation processes. It also includes visits to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Prime Minister’s Office and Government Advisory Councils.
Training Civilian Crisis Management Staff
Despite the drawdown of military forces from Afghanistan, most international organisations remain active: UN, UNDP, EU and – specifically in 2014 - several international election observation missions (EU, OSCE). For new staff preparing for deployment, Clingendael organises a pre-deployment training as part of the EU-funded ENTRi project.
From 27-30 January, 20 future mission members were introduced to the political, economic and humanitarian situation in the country and to core concepts of security, police and justice reform. Dates for next courses for Afghanistan (and other mission areas) can be found as download.
A Lasting Relationship
The Clingendael Academy will play a part in the continued cooperation that has been established between Afghanistan, the Netherlands and the European Union. Training young diplomats, policy advisers as well as international advisers are key elements in a sustainable post-conflict reconstruction effort. Clingendael’s activities with regard to Afghanistan also fits the regional approach favoured by the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the EEAS. Alongside Afghan diplomats, the Clingendael Academy is providing training to diplomats from many countries in the South Asian region, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; a cooperation that dates back to the 1990s.
Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai siging strategic partnership agreement. Photo by: The White House