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Good governance and financial transparency are central to a sustainable reconstruction of Afghanistan

TI calls for relations between the international community and an emerging Afghan government to be based on full financial transparency and clear lines of accountability, both in humanitarian aid and in investment

The formation of a sustainable government in Afghanistan hinges not only on the containment of civil war in the coming year, but also on the establishment of, and adherence to, clear lines of accountability and financial transparency at both the national, local and international level, according to Transparency International (TI), the leading non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption.

The Afghan crisis has deep roots stretching back over many decades, but the lessons of other post-conflict situations have to be learned. "That means that issues of governance and accountability must be addressed from the outset," said Kamal Hossain, Chairman of the Advisory Council of Transparency International. Dr Hossain, who is also the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, was in Bonn on Wednesday to meet with representatives of Afghanistan's leadership. A particular responsibility lay with the international community, he stressed, to be fully transparent in both its humanitarian aid procedures and also with its dealings with any emerging government structures in Afghanistan, including local and regional administrations, which will play a key role in the reconstruction of the country.

The international community should learn the lessons of the reconstruction efforts in other conflict zones, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, where corruption is one of the biggest problems facing the country today. If reconstruction plans for Afghanistan do not address the overriding priority of good governance from the beginning, there is a serious danger that regional warlords will defy any government authority and overrun the economy through extortion and organised crime. Likewise, International governments should ensure that their own private sector companies observe strict rules of best practice in the field of financial accounting, in particular not tolerating the payment of bribes or facilitation payments.

Both the funding from development agencies of western governments and the lending policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank must be fully transparent - and the recipients of loans and investment should be called to account in full for the use of the funds received. Plans should be made now to prepare monitoring mechanisms - where possible by citizens' groups in the country - to ensure that aid and investment go to targeted projects, such as schools, hospitals and housing. In particular, continued vigilance will be essential to ensure that funds are not diverted into the private pockets of politicians, regional power-brokers or their cronies nor used for the purchase of weapons and military

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