The last two pledging conferences — in Tokyo in 2012, and in Brussels in 2016 — promised more than $16 billion and more than $15 billion in aid, respectively. More than 50 percent of the Afghan government’s national budget is made of international funds.
On Tuesday, ministers and diplomats from more than 60 countries promised around $12 billion over the next four years — a reduced pledge, with harder conditions attached, including tangible progress toward a peace deal.
“The choices made in peace negotiations will affect the size and scope of future international support and assistance,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, addressing the Geneva conference by video.
With the American troop force in Afghanistan expected to come down to around 2,500 by the end of January, international aid is one of the most powerful potential checks on the Taliban’s aggression on the battlefield. Some of the delegates in Geneva directed their comments directly to that point.
The peace process “requires more signs of trust and commitment to peace by the Taliban. Violence must stop, not tomorrow, but right now,” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s foreign affairs and security chief. In a message aimed at Taliban leaders, he added that “any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our future engagement.”
Afghanistan’s foreign minister, Mohammed Hanif Atmar, welcomed these announcements, along with donor insistence that the Taliban respect the need for a peace that preserves gains in education, and protects the rights of women and minorities whom the insurgency oppressed while in power. The insurgency “must listen to the demands made by the entire world today,” he told reporters.
But donors were equally insistent that continued aid was contingent on effective reforms to tackle the scourge of corruption. The Afghan government “must do its part to implement essential elements of stability and security,” Mr. Pompeo warned, emphasizing the need for economic reforms and more efforts to fight corruption.