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Written input of Oxfam for the new EU Strategy in Afghanistan

Priority area 1: Women, Peace and Security
The EU Strategy Roadmap mentions the focus on the “ effective implementation of the Afghanistan National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security.” Oxfam fully agrees with the need for more support to implement the Afghan NAP, which has basically been at an impasse since its adoption in June 2015. There is still no agreement on the financing of the NAP and there are no related activity-based budgets within the relevant line ministries.

In addition to general support to implement the Afghan NAP, the EU Strategy should include a robust element in the EU strategy related to its continued financial, political and diplomatic support to peacebuilding initiatives in Afghanistan. This support should particularly stress the need for inclusive peacebuilding, in line with the EU’s commitments towards United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and especially towards the implementation of Afghanistan's National Action Plan, promoting the meaningful participation of women and other groups that have so far been underrepresented in formal and informal peace processes.

Secondly, the support from the European Union should particularly focus on local peacebuilding processes, for example, by providing financial support to grassroots civil society organizations in rural areas that are working at the local level to resolve disputes, address persisting grievances, foster reconciliation and contribute to other peacebuilding and conflict resolution processes. This local aspect of the Women, Peace and Security agenda has often been neglected. The conflict in Afghanistan that is discussed internationally is often limited to coordinated attacks on high-profile targets, tensions with neighbouring countries, and clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces. This, however, is only a fraction of the conflict Afghans themselves are faced with in their daily lives. Most conflict takes place at the local level and revolves around disputes inter alia related to land or water allocation, legal affairs, poverty, unemployment, religious affairs or the rights and obligations of customs. The EU Strategy can play an important role to address this imbalance by prioritising local peacebuilding.

Priority area 2: Linking good governance with local peacebuilding
Given the ongoing instability in the country and based on our current experience in Afghanistan, Oxfam would also encourage a focus on local governance and particularly on support to local governance structure's ability to manage conflict. In the past four years, Oxfam has implemented Citizens First, a human security programme that was able to establish the link between governance and peacebuilding in Afghanistan by focusing on weak governance as a key driving factor of conflict. Under the new EU Strategy, Oxfam feels there is an important opportunity to invest more in the good governance as a route to local peacebuilding, especially if this is coupled with the objective of fostering the active and meaningful participation and structural inclusion of citizens, vulnerable groups, women and grassroots CSOs under inclusive peacebuilding.

Priority area 3: Support for grassroots Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
Oxfam urges the European Union to further strengthen its focus on the often smaller or less institutionalised grassroots CSOs to address their limited capacity to apply for funding and on the additional support some grassroots CSOs need in the form of capacity building and mentoring in areas such as programme development, proposal writing, and the monitoring and (financial) reporting of project activities. The sub-granting mechanisms for grassroots CSOs that the European Union has included in recent calls for Afghanistan are a step in the right direction.

Contact person for Oxfam in Afghanistan: Mr. Akram Zaki, Influencing Manager:

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