Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning.
I'd like to thank the committee for inviting the North-South Institute to offer its views on the issues raised by the government's annual report on the Bretton Woods organizations, the IMF and the World Bank.
Let me start by saying why multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are so important.
We live in a world facing a number of complex problems, some of which present emergencies and others are crises in the making. These include the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other health emergencies afflicting the world's poorest people and countries; the spectre of devastation from climate change; local conflicts and the threat of regional wars, or worse; huge and escalating balances of payments, among the United States, Asian countries, and Europe, that threaten the financial stability of the international economy; and enormous and growing disparities between the rich and poor, which are a consequence of inequitable globalization.
It is not possible to resolve any of these problems through bilateral aid, diplomacy, or military intervention. They are too large and complex even for the United States, the world's richest and most powerful country. Problems of such global magnitude demand multilateral solutions. In other words, today's most pressing problems demand that multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, play key roles in their resolution. They do so by mobilizing resources from those around the world endowed with the greatest ability to help and by allocating resources to those facing the most pressing needs.
There is, of course, a catch. In order to be effective and efficient, the multilateral organizations have to be constantly monitored, evaluated, and made accountable for their activities, policies, and results. For that to happen, member countries must exercise constant vigilance and due diligence through their representatives at the organizations and through the officials who support them in capitals.
But accountability of multilateral organizations only starts with our officials, for example, with the Department of Finance's report on the Bretton Woods organizations. It certainly does not end there. Indeed it is essential that these reports be used as a platform for wider discussions, not only on the effectiveness of the institutions but on their very purpose and legitimacy.
Parliamentarians and civil society in member countries must be engaged in these discussions to ask not just whether the multilaterals are doing things right, but more fundamentally, whether they are doing the right thing. Typically, officials do not ask such questions.
Let me give you two examples. The report points to the fact that many fewer countries are now borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, undermining the financial viability of that organization. Most of the fund's remaining borrowers are the poorest countries, which need long-term development assistance, not the kind of short-term, balance-of-payment support for which the IMF was created. Yet the IMF does not consider itself to be a development agency. This has led to significant tensions between the World Bank and the IMF and coordination problems between those institutions—problems that we do not hear very much about in the report.
The reports alludes to the search by officials for financial solutions to the IMF's deficits, but the officials are not posing the more fundamental questions: Should the IMF continue to exist at all? If so, should its mission and mandate be drastically altered?
My second example relates to the turmoil currently engulfing Paul Wolfowitz's presidency at the World Bank. The issue I want to raise is that of the selection process for the World Bank president and for his counterpart in the IMF, the managing director.
Although the report states that Canada favours an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process, when push comes to shove, traditions die hard. In this case, traditionally the United States hand-picks the World Bank president and other countries rubber stamp the American candidate. Paul Wolfowitz, nominated two years ago by President George W. Bush, was a very controversial choice and hardly the best man for the job.
If Mr. Wolfowitz steps down, as many believe he should—and I agree with their assessment—the next president must be chosen through an open, transparent, and merit-based process. But it will take a considerable amount of pressure to make this happen, and that pressure must come from parliamentarians and civil society in member countries. Officials in Washington, Ottawa, and other capitals are unlikely to make this change happen without such external pressure.
Finally, I'd like to add that Canada has an opportunity to make a different sort of contribution at the IMF and World Bank from what it is able to do in UN agencies and other multilateral organizations. The boards at the IMF and World Bank comprise 24 executive directors, most of whom represent a grouping or a constituency of a number of countries. Canada's executive director represents Ireland and most of the Commonwealth Caribbean states as well as Canada itself. Similarly, our finance minister represents his counterparts among our Irish and Caribbean constituency members when he speaks at the policy-making committees at the spring and fall meetings of the fund and bank.
In other words, Canada has a north-south constituency consisting of both developed and developing countries. This enables Canada, if it so chooses, to play a more inclusive role by articulating and endorsing the positions of our developing country constituents. Other chairs at these organizations typically cannot do this. Nor can Canada speak for other countries at the United Nations, where it represents only itself.
Let me conclude. We welcome this opportunity to engage in a discussion on the international financial institutions, but the issues are many and complex. To do them justice, the standing committee should ensure more regular opportunities to have such discussions and provide sufficient time to allow greater depth in the discussion. Perhaps a standing subcommittee on international financial institutions should be re-established, or even more broadly, a committee that oversees all multilateral institutions dealing with economic and social cooperation. Multilateral institutions, in my view, are too important to be left wholly in the custody of our officials, as competent and conscientious as they may be. If these organizations are to do the right thing, as well as do things right, parliamentarians and civil society need to play a more active role in shaping their policies, activities, and impacts.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
To begin, I want to commend the Department of Finance for its very informative report on the operations under the Bretton Woods Act and also the staff of the Halifax Initiative for the report card that gives credit to the Department of Finance for much improved work.
In the time available, I propose to comment on three of Canada's objectives as chronicled in that report.
The first point deals with the contradiction between Canada's goal of improving aid effectiveness and the policy advice that is routinely dispensed by the IMF. Last June I was reading an article by an African colleague concerning IMF policies. In one sentence left off the report it reads:
||In the case of Zambia, the government was not allowed to employ more health care workers by IMF despite the willingness of the Canadian government to foot the wage bill for the next five years.
I was astonished. Could this be true? Was the IMF actually denying the ability of Canada to pay for health care workers in a country with an HIV prevalence of 17% of the adult population?
I undertook to inquire into this and contacted a number of colleagues in Zambia. What I discovered was disconcerting. Not only was our own CIDA having difficulty dispensing aid, but so was the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the United Nations Children's Fund, and the World Health Organization. This was part of a broader problem.
I asked myself if Zambia is perhaps an exceptional case. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The IMF itself commissioned a study by its own independent evaluation office to examine allegations that IMF programs were blocking the availability of aid in Africa. The report examined the activities of the IMF in 29 African countries over the years 1999 to 2005. The results of this study I think are very shocking. They show that the IMF has allowed only 28% of anticipated aid increases to be spent, while the other 72% is held back as public savings. In other words, only about $3 out of every $10 in annual aid increases was allowed to be spent. The other $7 was set aside as international reserves or domestic savings.
The prime reason why the IMF does not allow more public spending, even when it could be funded by international donors, is its overzealous commitment to combatting inflation. Countries with inflation below 5% were allowed to spend $8 out of every $10 in aid. Countries with inflation above 5% were restricted to spending just $1.50 out of every $10 in promised aid. Most economists will tell us that moderate inflation, that is inflation in the range of 10% to 20%, is not harmful to economic development. However, IMF programs that are overly restrictive of government spending in the name of fighting inflation are harmful to development. I think a weakness of Canada's report on the Bretton Woods institutions is that it does not deal with this issue, and we do not know what position Canada is taking internally in debates within the Bretton Woods institutions on this issue.
The second area I would like to comment on is the priority that Canada states for promoting sustainable development. This priority is contradicted by World Bank support for fossil fuel extraction in developing countries, which is leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions because of climate change. Canada, along with other G-8 countries, has called upon the World Bank to develop an investment framework for clean energy development. The good news is that the World Bank is making progress in this regard. However, they are starting from a very difficult position. Over the years 1992 to 2004, the World Bank dispensed some $28 billion in financing for fossil-fuel-related projects. This was 17 times as much as the financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The good news is this has begun to change. In fiscal year 2005, the World Bank actually dispensed more money for energy efficiency and renewable energy than it did for fossil fuels. However, in fiscal year 2006, we again saw retrogression; the spending for fossil fuels went up by 93%, while for renewable energy and energy efficiency it went up by only 46%. So we still have a long way to go.
Canada, I would hope, would identify itself with the advice given by the World Bank's own extractive industry review, which called for phasing out spending for fossil fuel extraction and devoting the World Bank's resources to renewable energy, to conservation, and to clean energy technologies.
The third and final area I wish to comment on is the Canadian priority around reforming the IMF to strengthen the international financial system. Roy has already touched on this.
What I want to do is put this in a somewhat broader context. Precisely because of the way the IMF conditionality is restrictive of the ability of sovereign nations to make their own decisions, we're seeing a trend in Asia, in Africa, and in Latin America toward the development of new institutions that would not be under the Bretton Woods umbrella. For example, in Asia they're talking about an Asian monetary fund that would be controlled by Asian countries. In Africa they're talking about an African currency and an African central bank. In Latin America, five countries have already moved to develop a bank of the south, which will take their own currency reserves and devote them to their own development priorities.
The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Dodge, has observed that the IMF is viewed with so much suspicion that it's no longer the best organization to foster a stable monetary environment. That's why we're seeing developing countries taking these initiatives.
Far from being alarmed about this, Canada should welcome these southern initiatives and encourage sovereign countries to take control of their own finances and to build institutions that serve their own needs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much for sharing your expertise and experience today on this immensely complex subject. Of course, the time is too short to get to the heart of the problem.
I'm sure committee members welcome your favourable comments about the better aid legislation, which has been driven very much by the many civil society spokespersons who've come before the committee and by the committee in moving it to what is nearly the final stage of adoption.
I think your comments added to the excellent report card done by Halifax Initiative, and they really do pose a challenge to us to try to think through what kinds of public accountability mechanisms and processes could actually get at some of these problems. I'm sure the Halifax Initiative report is welcomed by the government, and probably the previous government as well. Fair enough. There have been some complimentary references to some improvements. But it remains a serious, serious problem that the very countries most in need of the Bretton Woods institutions serving them are actually dropping out—and the perverse results of that are astounding, really. They're accelerating their repayments, which is probably a killer thing for them to be doing, in order not to come under the heavy heel of the punishing policies required of them.
I'm wondering if we can ask you to turn your attention a little bit to the question of what accountability mechanisms...and here, I'm really asking you to focus on Canada and our responsibilities as parliamentarians. Clearly, there are the big issues of needed reforms at the Bretton Woods institutional level, but it's also clear that we have very extensive public accountability processes, and so on, through the Auditor General, with respect to our domestic operations. But it seems that when it comes to the Bretton Woods institutions—which involve a lot of money, but also have a massive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable people on the planet—our institutions and processes are very, very frail and very weak.
I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about two things, really. What would these mechanisms look like, ideally, and how do you see us as a committee engaged with civil society in moving through a process to get us to where we need to be to actually do the job?
First of all, I'd just like to thank you for allowing me to speak in front of you today and say what an honour it is.
As many keen observers of Afghanistan have recognized in recent months, the Afghan state-building process is facing a tipping point. Most Afghans have yet to receive the peace dividend promised them by Afghan and international leaders following the collapse of the Taliban regime. Talk of a Marshall Plan for the country was heard by ordinary Afghans, buoying hope for a break with the violence and endemic poverty that characterized life in the country over the past two decades. However, by 2007 the most noticeable change in the lives of most Afghans has been a rise in insecurity and the growth of a public administration increasingly seen as predatory, obtrusive, and corrupt. This has fed a growing sense of pessimism and disillusionment that has emboldened spoiler groups such as the Taliban.
Today, many Afghans, from Kabul to Kunduz to Kandahar, assume that the Taliban will return to power, not because of a renewed belief in the Taliban fundamentalist ideology, but due to a feeling that momentum is on their side, that international actors are losing interest, and that the Karzai regime is weak and faltering. Afghans are pragmatists. After 23 years of civil war, they have learned to pick the winning side. As the Taliban becomes bolder, more and more Afghans will gravitate towards it as a coping mechanism. We are already seeing this in the south, where some Afghans have begun to speak nostalgically of the relative peace and security of the Taliban period.
Of course, the reason for the Taliban's initial popularity, when it came to power in 1996, was its provision of security and its disarmament of the same warlords who reconstituted their fiefdoms on the heels of Operation Enduring Freedom and who are entrenched in the government today.
As the media coverage of Afghanistan clearly illustrates, the security situation now defies classification as a “post-conflict environment”. Contrary to the situation in previous years, the violence is no longer contained within the Pashtun belt, the Taliban heartland. In a disturbing trend in 2006, heretofore stable areas of the country, such as Wardak province in central Afghanistan, experienced a sharp rise in insecurity. Wardak province was one of the most stable areas of the country in 2003 and 2004. By 2006, however, the United Nations was forced to halt all travel on major roads due to threats of armed attacks.
One need only compare statistics for 2005 and 2006 regarding the insurgency to grasp the extent of the problem. By September 2006, an average of 600 insurgent and/or terrorist incidents were occurring on a monthly basis, up from an average of 130 per month in 2005. There were 139 suicide bombings in the country in 2006, a significant increase from the 27 that occurred the previous year. Finally, the insurgency resulted in more than 3,700 fatalities in 2006, a figure more than four times greater than that of 2005.
Poor governance, particularly at the subnational level, an area which received very little attention by donors up to 2006, has been a major driver of insecurity. The police, who represent the main interface between state and society, exemplify the failure of the contemporary Afghan state. There is no more corrupt and dysfunctional institution in Afghanistan than the Afghan National Police. Since 2002, the police have been a source of insecurity for communities across the country, rather than a solution to it. A significant proportion of Afghans view the police with fear and resentment. When they interact with the police, it is often to pay bribes or illegal taxes. The police are increasingly the perpetrators of crimes ranging from kidnapping for ransom to bank robberies. In November 2004, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission claimed that 15% of all human rights violations reported were perpetrated by the police. The most common offences reported were torture, theft, and the failure to prosecute murder cases.
Corruption is rampant throughout the police, with up to 80% of the force involved in the drug trade. A majority are loyal to local commanders rather than to the Ministry of the Interior. In a telling expression of the depth of corruption and factionalism in the police, one senior Afghan police official told me in June 2006 that he trusted only 27 of the approximately 1,500 police stationed in all of Helmand province.
The Kabul riots provided the clearest signal yet of the failure of the internationally supported police reform process. Not only did the police fail to quell the mob, which ransacked the capital—causing in the process at least 17 deaths, over 190 injuries, and millions of dollars in damages—but they joined them. The few officers who did confront the rioters were shown to be grossly unprepared, lacking basic crowd control training and equipment.
This brings me to what will be the main focus of my talk, the security sector reform process, or SSR, which is the effort to reconstruct the security architecture of the state. Not only is SSR a cornerstone of the state-building process, but it also provides the exit strategy for the international community. Only when the Afghan state has a monopoly over the use of force across the whole national territory will the conditions be present for international forces to withdraw.
Although significant strides have been made to advance the process over the past five years, including the training of over 30,000 Afghan National Army soldiers and the disarmament and demobilization of 60,000 militiamen, severe problems remain, and I will touch on three of them.
The first problem is what I refer to as the slide toward expediency in the implementation of reforms.
SSR is not merely a process to train and equip the security forces; it is also intended to instil modern democratic principles such as respect for human rights, to ensure that the security institutions are accountable to democratic civilian authority, and to institute the rule of law. However, in Afghanistan the process has been almost entirely dedicated to enhancing the operational effectiveness of the security forces. Efforts to rebuild the judicial system and reform the ministries intended to manage and provide oversight of the security forces, the ministries of defence and interior, have been treated as an afterthought. We are already witnessing the damaging implications of this approach, with deep-seated corruption in the ministry of interior infecting every corner of the police service.
The second overarching dilemma is what I refer to as the political will problem.
The Afghan government has not always demonstrated the necessary will to undertake the difficult reforms necessary to advance the state-building process. This is most clear in relation to corruption and the drug trade. It is widely known which government officials—some up to the level of minister—have links to the drug trade, yet they remain in office. This is also true in reference to the issue of illegal armed groups. The international community has funded the most expensive disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process in history, but numerous prominent members of the government have retained their private militias. According to some estimates, up to 60% of the members of Parliament have links to illegal armed groups, despite a provision of the electoral law that should have barred their candidacy for having these links.
What message does this send to the Afghan people about the counter-narcotics and demilitarization campaigns? Afghans will not take these processes seriously, or place their faith in the government more generally, unless the same rules apply to all. Perhaps the key to advancing the counter-narcotics and demilitarization processes and expanding the state's legitimacy in the eyes of the people is to go after the big fish, the high-profile targets. The problem is that such an approach conflicts with President Karzai's leadership style, which can be described as accommodationist.
Instead of confronting deep-seated problems within his own government, President Karzai has sought to place most of the blame for the country's security crisis on the doorstep of Pakistan. Pakistan certainly does represent one of the paramount threats to Afghanistan's security. The Talibanization of the federally administered tribal areas, which provide a base for insurgents to attack governments and international targets in Afghanistan, coupled with the Musharraf regime's duplicitous position on the Taliban, condemning them publicly while providing them with clandestine support, has been a major driver of the insurgency.
It is clear that greater pressure must be brought to bear on the Pakistani government to bring an end to its double game in Afghanistan. However, perhaps it's also time for the international community to demand more of President Karzai's government. The bogeyman cannot be used to distract attention from the failures of the Karzai administration and Afghanistan's homegrown security problems.
Aid and assistance to the Afghan government has largely been provided unconditionally. Perhaps it is time to condition aid in a manner that will promote difficult reforms. One thing that is clear is that dedicating vast resources to assist them where the commitment of the political leadership to the fundamental principles of the process is tenuous is not only wasteful but could exacerbate corruption and instability.
The final problem, which I will discuss today, can be described as the justice gap. The rule of law is absent in much of Afghanistan today due in large part to the decrepit state of the judicial system. It is a truism in the field of post-conflict reconstruction that regardless of how well-trained the police are, without a functioning judicial system they will not be able to perform their duties.
Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served as the high representative for Bosnia from 2002 to 2006, has stated that one of the primary lessons he learned from his time in Bosnia was that justice should come first. Without a functioning justice system, you cannot have security, combat corruption, or establish an efficient regulatory system for the national economy.
Afghanistan's state builders seemingly failed to heed this lesson. By 2005, and this situation continues today, less than 3% of the funds allocated to the SSR process were channelled to the justice institutions. It is of little surprise then today that more than 90% of legal matters in the country are taken to the informal or customary legal system rather than to state courts.
To the average Afghan, the courts are expensive, corrupt, and out of touch with local realities. The courts are barely able to function in some parts of the country as the system lacks basic infrastructure, equipment, and trained jurists. I've come across abundant anecdotal evidence of criminals being apprehended by the police only to be released shortly thereafter because there was no court to try them or jail to keep them.
In my remarks today I have tried to show that a foundation has been built for a democratic state in Afghanistan, but it is fragile and teetering. Afghans are becoming increasingly disaffected with a government that is incapable of delivering basic public goods, that is dominated by warlords and drug traffickers, and that is endemically corrupt. The 2006 Kabul riots not only showed the depth of frustration of many Afghans with the slow pace of change, but demonstrated how easily the entire state-building process could implode.
Combatting growing insecurity in the year ahead will be one of the main challenges for the Afghan government and international community and will require renewed attention to the security sector reform process. The recent U.S. commitment of $8.6 billion for SSR will provide a vital boost to the process, but the problem with the Afghan security sector is not just one of insufficient resources. A change in strategy is needed that will balance the short- and long-term goals of the process. Efforts to enhance the operational effectiveness of the security forces must be accompanied by steps to strengthen the government's ability to control and manage them and create a legal and judicial framework within which they can work.
At present, the system, in many respects, is merely making corrupt and factional security forces more efficient and effective. The process must seek to change the culture of this sector, which is a long-term process.
The uncomfortable reality for most donors is that intensive engagement will be required in Afghanistan for another five to ten years to consolidate the gains that have been made and to prevent the state from once again slipping into failure.
This does not mean that international military forces will be fighting an insurgency of the intensity seen today for another decade; rather, with the necessary investments in development, governance, and SSR, the security element of the state-building project could be gradually scaled down and phased out in favour of its development and diplomatic dimensions.
Thank you, Mr. Sorenson.
I have a relatively short statement. I'll go through it quickly.
My views on Afghanistan that I'm bringing to you today have been formed by my relatively unique experience working on Afghanistan, both inside and outside of the Canadian government.
I'm currently the executive director of Peace Dividend Trust. It's a not-for-profit foundation founded by a group of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and aid workers whose sole and unique focus is to work with the UN and other international agencies in New York, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other peacekeeping missions to make peace and humanitarian operations more effective, more efficient, and more equitable.
Prior to this, in 2002-04, I was the deputy director of the South Asia division at Foreign Affairs, where, you could say, I was present at the creation, so to speak, of the three-D approach to our work in Afghanistan. In that role my primary focus was on the coordination of the efforts of the Department of National Defence, Foreign Affairs, and CIDA in the establishment of our embassy in Kabul.
PDT has two projects in Afghanistan right now. Both are focused on the problem that only a very small portion of the money that the international community spends on Afghanistan is spent in Afghanistan. There is a massive lost opportunity to use the operational spending of the donors and international agencies to drive economic recovery through local procurement in the hiring of Afghan staff. This is supported by the emerging consensus in the development world that economic growth is the foundation of peace and stability.
Our procurement marketplace project, which was originally funded by CIDA and is now also funded by the U.K. and the United States, has a simple task. We match the procurement needs of the coalition forces, international agencies—including Canadian agencies—that are currently being filled outside of Afghanistan, largely in Dubai, to local Afghan businesses, and we train Afghan entrepreneurs to bid on international contracts.
This may sound mundane, but I assure you, by increasing local spending, it has a massive economic impact; it creates jobs. Boys who would be planting IEDs are working in factories and paying taxes to the struggling Afghan government.
Our second project is just wrapping up, and it's a groundbreaking economic impact research project that we're undertaking for the Afghan Ministry of Finance. It's being funded by the British government. Donors, including Canada, have pledged in the Afghanistan Compact to meet several commitments, including increasing the use of Afghan staff and Afghan business, but to date no one has ever attempted to actually measure how much money is entering the local economy.
We now have produced the first benchmark comparisons of the donors, which will be tabled next week at the donors' Afghanistan Development Forum by the Afghan Minister of Finance.
I'd like to make four quick points regarding the situation in Afghanistan and Canada's role.
First, Canada is making a difference. This is the right place for Canada to be, but we must be prepared, as Mr. Sedra has said, to commit to the long term, and there are still areas where we can improve.
First and foremost, Canada is making a difference, and success stories abound. Earlier this week the Minister of Development and IDRC hosted a meeting in Ottawa that gathered all the major Canadian NGOs operating in Afghanistan. To sit in that meeting, you would think we were talking about a different country from the country we read about in the papers every day. The message that these organizations that are operating in Kabul and Kandahar and elsewhere are bringing to the table is a uniform one, and that's that every day, Canada's investment is producing a tangible and direct and positive impact on the lives of Afghans. Whether it's microcredit, health care, justice, or private sector development, CIDA money and Canadian agencies are making an impressive difference in Afghanistan.
Our own project, the procurement marketplace that I mentioned earlier, is a remarkable success story too. We initially set a target of increasing local spending in Kabul by $5 million. I'm happy to report that after nine months we've been able to redirect $46 million into the local economy, for example, by helping the U.S. Army buy its water in Kabul as opposed to Dubai. This means thousands of new jobs for the people of Afghanistan. And if I could be a little cheeky, it would also place us as the sixth largest donor in Afghanistan in terms of direct economic impact—bigger than the Netherlands.
CIDA's overall impact in Afghanistan is another success story. I mentioned the report that we've produced for the Afghan Minister of Finance on the economic impact of donors. It will show that among the donor community, CIDA has one of the largest impacts on the local economy per dollar spent.
Unfortunately, these success stories are not being heard, and they're being overshadowed by political controversies.
This is the right place for Canada to be. Canada's relative influence in Kabul is unique, and I can say this as a former diplomat. This influence is multiplying the impact of our investment.
Unlike most other post-conflict missions, Canada is one of the lead players in Kabul. This is partly due to the size of our commitment, but it's also due to the effectiveness of the three-D approach and the leadership of such people as our former Canadian ambassador, Chris Alexander, who has now left the foreign service to work for the UN; General Hillier; and General Andrew Leslie.
If you believe that Canada has a unique value-added to bring to the world and to bring to development, this is the place where we are influential enough to deliver that value. We will not have a bigger impact elsewhere. But as Mr. Sedra said, we must be prepared to be there for the long term, to see this impact turn into lasting progress.
Nation-building is, by definition, a quagmire. Peace, order, and good government cannot be built in a single fiscal year, or even several. It is a painful process. It's going to suffer setbacks. It's going to cost money. It's going to take time. It's going to take generations. If we leave too early, there will be consequences and our investment will be lost.
The recent events in East Timor are proof of this. I was part of the UN mission in Timor that saw it through to independence in May 2002, and I'm afraid to say I was part of the crowd that rushed to the airport like a “fall of Saigon” the day after independence to leave Timor. Now the international community has been forced to return to Timor with more people and more money to replicate the work they had done in 1998 to 2002. General Leslie has warned that Canada will need to be in Afghanistan for 20 years. I believe the job we have set for ourselves will require the international community to be there in some form for much longer. Frankly, if it was going to be easy, we wouldn't be there now.
Canada can take steps to enhance its impact in Afghanistan. The three-D approach—development, diplomacy, and defence—must continue to move forward. Recent plans to co-locate civil servants and staff from CIDA, DND, and DFAIT in the same place in the next few months should be applauded. But it must also be noted that this was done by the British government in the early days of post-September 11. In fact, at the end of September 2001, the British government brought together the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, DFID, all together in one room, and we're doing that now. Likewise, the appointment of David Mulroney at DFAIT and Stephen Wallace at CIDA as the lead coordinators in Afghanistan will make a big difference in rationalizing and improving Canada's impact. This too should have happened a long time ago.
It is important to note that CIDA, DFAIT, and DND are not large bureaucracies with large resources and large numbers of people to put towards Afghanistan, like, for example, USAID, the Pentagon, and the State Department. However, I'd like to emphasize that there is an advantage to being small. When you're small bureaucracies, you can coordinate faster and better, and you can be nimble and quickly able to react to a shifting and dynamic environment in Afghanistan. But—and this is the big “but”—if we don't coordinate, if we're not nimble and fast, then we're simply just small.
I would also like to encourage Canada to increase its use of Afghan goods and services in the delivery of its aid in supporting our military operations. Canada has a good record to date, in terms of its economic impact, but it can still increase local procurement and the channelling of assistance through Afghan agencies.
In conclusion, I would like to say that this is the right place and this is the right time for Canada to make a difference in the world. We are on the right track, and we must be prepared to see this through to the end. It will take a long time, but our efforts will be worth it.
Thank you for your comment.
First of all, I'll speak on the area that my research focuses on most, which is on building up the security sector.
As I said in my presentation, I think there's a need for a substantial increase in investment in judicial infrastructure, everything from building courthouses at the district levels across the country to, at the provincial level, training judges. We're severely behind in this regard. There is a great deal of need to fill this judicial vacuum.
One of the big issues is the correction system. I know this is a big issue in Canada with the recent case of detainees being passed over to the national security directorate in Kandahar. The fact is that very little money has been dedicated to rebuilding the correction system. The coalition and the International Committee of the Red Cross did a survey recently, and they found that the vast majority of the prisons in the country are simply uninhabitable, by international standards. This is another part of this judicial apparatus that just is not receiving enough attention.
Obviously there's a need for more investment in the police, but even if we put a lot of investment there, if we don't fix this judicial part, it's not going to do the job. So I think that is absolutely essential, the whole rule of law component: justice, corrections, and police.
I think there is a need to focus again on this issue of corruption, because corruption is linked to the issue of governance—building up governance at the subnational level, going down to the district level and trying to encourage good governance, mainstreaming the issue of anti-corruption within the government, and putting a little bit more pressure on President Karzai to deal with some of the figures in the cabinet and some of the figures in his administration who are known to be corrupt, of whom there is ample evidence, at least that I've seen, of their corruption but little action is taken.
Those are some of the areas that I would advocate focusing on.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen, for being with us today. I just want to say at the very outset that my party and I are very much in agreement with the point you've driven home, as have many others, that there is absolutely a key role for Canada in Afghanistan today and far into the future, one that could well last twenty years or beyond.
The major concern that I think is shared by a great many Canadians, and certainly very much expressed by my party, is the mess that we've gotten ourselves into in Kandahar, which I think jeopardizes our effectiveness and our role in the many other aspects of the work desperately needing to be done.
I want to start first with you, Mr. Sedra. You stress that really the whole business of nation building—and I know your expertise is in security sector reform—is all about entrenching the rule of law and human rights and about achieving justice. Yet our situation in Kandahar is one of having tightly associated ourselves in the first instance with Operation Enduring Freedom, which is the antithesis of justice, human rights, and rule of law.
In fact, it is basically a mission of revenge and retaliation that we simply signed on to and in which we have become indistinguishable. We can talk all we want about being Canadians, having different priorities, having different values, having different ways of going about things. Now we've morphed into part of an international force and so on, but the reality is that it's very difficult to extricate ourselves from the very concerns that are driving more and more people into the arms of the Taliban.
Secondly, I think we also are very concerned that we've become so tightly associated with the corruption that is so massive, right up to senior officials in the Karzai government, that we end up again, for different reasons, being seen as associated with a great source of fear and insecurity in the lives of large numbers of people in Afghanistan, especially in Kandahar.
I guess I have two questions for both of you, having expressed those concerns about how we are seen in a way that jeopardizes the other important roles we need to play. I want to talk about our diplomatic effort, because you both really talked about the importance of the three-D approach and closer coordination of those and so on. Have we not made it extremely difficult for ourselves to be seen as a credible partner in robust diplomacy because of our association on the one hand with Operation Enduring Freedom and on the other hand with a corrupt Karzai administration, so that people don't see us as an honest broker, don't see us as having a balanced approach?
And secondly, I'd like to know what you both might have to say about the virtual absence of any meaningful comprehensive diplomacy that brings in the many different parties to these immensely complex conflicts. Is it not a problem that we have such a major exclusion of so many of the parties, both in the tribal sense—the Pashtun being a key one—and in the regional sense, so that there's nothing with which we can really be credibly associated as honest brokers in the diplomatic process, and there's not much going on that you can describe as comprehensive diplomacy?
I'm sorry. I know that's a big question, but I'd be very interested in your using up the time to address those two questions.