Civil Society Groups Prepare For Brussels Summit

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Members of civil society organizations said their presence at the upcoming Brussels Summit on Afghanistan will be a big achievement for the country and for Afghan civil society activists.

But a number of analysts believe that civil society organizations have not played an important enough role in the past two years and that members of the organizations have not made any important gains.

In less than a month, the critical summit will be held on Afghanistan where the international community will decide on what aid it will pay to the country in the next few years.

But activists have said that before going to Brussels, the organizations will meet to finalize a list of members who will represent civil society organizations at the summit.

“It would be a credit for Afghan civil society organizations that they are being invited to such an important international meeting. We will read a position statement regarding national issues and will participate in meetings on the sideline of the summit,” Hassan Ali Faiz, a member of one civil society said.

Civil society organizations in recent years have tried to be more involved in national issues. However, it is said that due to their financial dependence on internal and external sources, they have not been able to deliver solid results.

“They (civil society members) have participated in many important international conferences, but their presence has just been symbolic. They have not built a defense system to reach a better tax system. Generally their work is centered in budgetary issues,” Hikmatullah Shahbaz, a university lecturer said.

However, civil society members disagree. They believe that in the past two years both Afghan government and international agencies have decreased their support of civil society organizations.

“Whenever civil society gets weak, democracy will become weaker. Whenever civil society gets weak, accountability and monitoring of government activities will become weaker. Thus, if civil society has a weak position, the country’s system will suffer,” Niem Nazari, director of civil society network and human rights said.

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