By Fakhruddin Azizi, HDR Focal Point, UNDP Afghanistan
For Afghans, human security is not defined simply as the end of war or the ability to survive, but also the chance to live a life of dignity and to pursue and sustain their own livelihoods. During the past two decades, Afghanistan faced numerous hardships, risks and challenges. For too long, Afghanistan’s security problem has been interpreted narrowly as the security of “state” from international and external aggression, or as the protection of the interest of fragmented groups claiming political legitimacy in the absence of a state. Forgotten were the legitimate concerns of ordinary people who sought security and dignity in their daily lives. Human security is an ideal framework for a development vision for Afghanistan and it is the core of Afghanistan’s first National Human Development Report 2004: Security with a Human Face, which was launched in February this year.
The Report uses a "human security" lens to look at the inter-linkages between security, conflict and human development. The HDR seeks to expand the notion of security to cover not only territorial security, or freedom from violence and human rights abuses, but also basic human needs (education, health, food, shelter, incomes and livelihoods, etc) as well as strategic "needs" (such as participation, dignity, empowerment, etc).
The production of the first HDR was also an attempt to involve Afghans in the identification of problems and solutions for their country. The Report was the product of two years of consultation with more than 1000 people across four regions, the writing of background papers, compilation and verification of existing data, analysis, and reviews by national and international advisors. The process included capacity building initiatives through various trainings and seminars in Dari and English, the creation of a national steering Committee and the group, International Friends of the HDR , consultations through workshops with the media and university researchers in five regions of Afghanistan, and parallel statistical capacity building with the National Statistical Office of Afghanistan. The HDR marks the first time in Afghanistan’s modern history that objective observers were allowed to gather and tabulate data on living conditions among everyday Afghans. It draws a portrait of a nation still at odds—even if it is no longer at war—with itself.
There was considerable global interest in the report; the international media extensively covered the report. This report shed light on the local roots of insecurity in Afghanistan and presented recommendations for policies and action required from the Afghan government, civil society and the international community so as to prevent further insecurities in people’s lives that could endanger their human development. During the next few weeks, the HDR will be launched in Northern Afghanistan (Mazar-e Sharif province), and in subsequent weeks it will be launched in other cities such as Kunduz, Jalalabad, Gardez and Paktia. To date it has been launched in Kabul, Herat, and Bamyan provinces. During these launches, the team had a series of consultation regarding the next HDR and the impact of the present report.
Christopher Alexander, Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan adds: “the Human Development Report is a critical new roadmap for us all, highlighting the human side of the Bonn agenda and placing Afghans at centre stage-both as the means and ends of development. Canada will be guided by this inspiring call to the international community to protect, provide for and empower the people. We remain determined to ensure reconstruction efforts never pass by the ordinary people of Afghanistan.”
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