Rule of Law

 UNDP’s Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan supports initiatives to bring the police closer to the citizens. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / LOTFA

Security continues to be the major barrier to development in Afghanistan. Parts of the country remain occupied by anti-government forces and the UN recorded more civilian casualties in 2015 than in any other year on record. Peace negotiations restarted in January 2015, with preliminary talks involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China.

The police service has had to be completely rebuilt over the past decade, and much progress has been made. But with the withdrawal of international forces, the police continue to play a frontline role in the conflict, distracting from their primary goal of becoming a civilian service that can fight crime and earn the trust of the community. 

Access to justice remains limited, particularly for women, who are discriminated against in formal and informal justice systems, and the poorest, who are unable to afford legal costs. Legal professionals and relevant government institutions need greater capacity, and national legislation has to be brought in line with Afghanistan’s international obligations.

Awareness of human rights and legal procedures is low and compounded by high rates of illiteracy, while 80% of disputes are settled by traditional justice bodies, whose verdicts sometimes conflict with human rights standards.

UNDP works with government and other partners to strengthen Afghanistan’s peacebuilding architecture. We aim to ensure that the Afghan population, including women, can influence and have confidence in the peace process.

We oversee the trust fund that pays the Afghan National Police and build capacity at the Ministry of Interior Affairs to prepare them to take over this role, as well as improving their ability to promote human rights and gender equality throughout their operations. We also run programmes to help the police become a more professional civilian force that can serve and protect all of Afghanistan’s people, including women. We expand access to justice by improving legislation to bring it in line with international standards, by building the capacity of government and legal professionals, and by raising public awareness of legal rights and the ways in which they should be enforced.

All of our efforts are supported by developing links with informal justice, security and peacebuilding structures, as well as civil society and women’s groups.