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United States Institute of Peace: Rebuilding Civil Society in Afghanistan

Authors: Christina Caan, and Scott Worden
July 2007



Nearly six years after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, efforts to develop civil society are showing tentative signs of progress. Advances are especially evident in the increasing capacity of Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kabul. But the effectiveness of civil society in influencing development in the provinces remains low, and rising insecurity in many regions threatens the future prospects of the nascent Afghan civil society.


The development of civil society in Afghanistan is showing several signs of progress. With assistance from Counterpart International, the Afghan government and local organizations drafted a new NGO law, which was ratified in 2004. Placing NGOs within a clear legal framework marks a significant stride forward for enhancing the legitimacy and operating environment for local NGOs. Since the new law took effect, the number of registered domestic NGOs has increased by five hundred, making Afghanistan now home to nearly one thousand NGOs.

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