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New institute formed to strengthen Afghan civil society

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institute-for-civil-societyAfghan civil society gained momentum on Tuesday with the formation of a national, independent organization designed to promote high standards among civil society institutions through a comprehensive certification process.

In Kabul today, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, participated in the launching ceremony of the new organization, called the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society (AICS).

The idea of establishing AICS was conceived almost a decade ago, during the Enabling Environment Conference, and later refined in a civil society group consisting of some 200 members who worked together to conceptualize the structure, mandate and objectives of the Institute.

Welcoming the establishment of AICS, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abdullah Abdullah, said civil society has played a significant role in transforming Afghan society, fostering development, promoting human rights, defending freedom of speech, fighting corruption and advocating for Afghans in all national processes.

In his comments, the Executive Director of AICS, Maiwand Rahyab, said the Institute is designed to systematize training efforts so their impact can be measured more effectively against performance benchmarks. He said the Institute will help strengthen the role civil society plays in Afghanistan’s development, especially in terms of active engagement with government.

Last month, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed important progress made by civil society groups in developing and promoting local road maps for peace. A national conference, held on 15 January in Kabul, presented 12 of these local road maps and provided a chance to develop advocacy strategies so that provincial and national policy makers act upon their findings.