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Policy Process

Status: Completed

“As a representation of intent to Afghan citizens, formal policy appears to have a mixed reception because it is readily contrasted with people’s direct experiences of the state, which generally tend to fall short of the promises such policies hold.”
AREU’s policy process research explores how some of the country’s key plans, strategies and laws have been developed over the past decade. The final report, “Policymaking and State-Building in Afghanistan,” draws on case studies focused on different aspects of national-level policymaking processes:
The Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), demonstrating the weaknesses of overarching policy structures that attempt to be all things to all people; rural development approaches and divergent experiences between government ministries, outlining the importance of government leadership in negotiating terms with donors; the development of the National Education Strategic Plan, showing the role of policymaking as a process of negotiation and the challenge of balancing capacity building with the use of technical advisors; attempts to standardise senior subnational appointments, showing how efforts to impose formal policy structures can be circumvented by existing informal norms; and an analysis of the making of the controversial Shiite Personal Status Law, providing insight into the dynamics of Afghanistan’s emerging legislature and its relationship with civil society.
A separate report focuses on the Afghan government’s attempts to implement gender mainstreaming—assessing the implication of planned actions for both women and men—which have so far met with limited success.
Evidence from these studies paints a picture of multiple actors pushing competing and occasionally contradictory agendas, often grounded in highly limited empirical understandings of the issues at hand. Broad conclusions suggest a pressing need for greater and more sensitive dialogue between international donors, the Afghan government, and its people. In particular, it is critical that future policy makes a greater attempt to engage with existing institutions at a local level, and allows more space for the inclusion of Afghan ideas and priorities.

Publications from this research project:

Governance in Afghanistan An Introduction

Afghanistan is not new to governance reform. But the establishment of a sound system of public administration is a long-term process depending on strong, sustained and coordinated partnership between and within the Afghan government and the international community. Government reform

The Afghan National Army:Sustainability Challenges beyond Financial Aspects

The ANA is commonly viewed as one of post-2001 Afghanistan’s strongest institutions,if not the strongest. However, with the imminent withdrawal of international forces,the ANA’s ability to stand on its own and successfully confront its enemies faces its firstmajor test. This

Means to What End? Policymaking and State-Building in Afghanistan (Summary)

Read the report’s executive summary.

Means to What End? Policymaking and State-Building in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been in “state-building” mode since 2001, and formal policymaking has been an important tool for focusing and coordinating the efforts of the Afghan government and its international supporters. This synthesis paper considers the role that high-level policymaking has

Capacity-Building Through Policymaking: Developing Afghanistan’s National Education Strategic Plan

This briefing paper examines the capacity-building and policymaking nexus through an examination of the National Education Strategic Plan and its revision. It finds that while clear strides have been made in developing the capacity of the Ministry of Education to

Is Capacity Being Built? A Study of Policymaking Process in the Primary and Secondary Education Subsector

This study is one in a series of case studies conducted by AREU to understand policymaking processes in different sectors, a research project that started in September 2007. This case study focuses on the primary and secondary education subsector and

The Shiite Personal Status Law Process

This is AREU’s inaugural podcast: A public lecture from researcher Lauryn Oates on 2009’s controversial Shiite Personal Status Law.

The Shiite Personal Status Law: ACBAR Presentation Notes

Notes from a presentation on AREU’s study of the Shiite Personal Status Law on 14 October 2009 at the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR).

Policymaking in Agriculture and Rural Development in Afghanistan

The agriculture sector in Afghanistan is seen to have a key role in driving economic growth. This paper examines the making of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) policy in Afghanistan. It is part of a series by AREU that looks

A Closer Look: The Policy and Lawmaking Process Behind the Shiite Personal Status Law

In March 2009, news of the Shiite Personal Status Law, which included a handful of articles that restricted the rights of Afghan Shia women, exploded in the international press, galvanising heated responses from a variety of stakeholders. An AREU study

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