Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo)
The Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo) was developed as partnership between Afghan civil society actors and Swiss-peace at the request of 76 participants of the first Afghan Civil Society Conference in Bad Honnef, Germany (29 November – 2 December 2001).
This conference was facilitated by Swiss-peace parallel to the meeting of political representatives organized by the UN at Petersburg near Bonn. The goal of the conference was to involve Afghan civil society in the peace and reconstruction process of their country in order to achieve a more sustainable post-conflict reconstruction. The Afghanistan Civil Society Forum-organization began its activities in February 2002 after initial funds from the Swiss and German government were secured. The ACSFo Office in Kabul was opened in May 2002.
Civil society is now recognized as an important and legitimate actor in the realm of democratization, social justice, peacebuilding and development. Civil society along with government and private sector constitute the human society. Strong civil society institutions, interacting with the state and the economic actors, create innovative solutions to complex social and economic problems. A vibrant and diverse civil society also provides an atmosphere of accessibility in which poor and marginalized people are able to participate in their own social, economic, cultural and political development.
In the burgeoning Afghan democracy, there exist numerous non-profit organizations and associations outside the realm of the government. Ranging from the community to the national levels popularly referred to as civil society groups, these organizations have played a crucial role in supporting the democratization and peace process of Afghanistan. ACSFo, being a major civil society forum, has served this purpose by improving the coordination between civil society actors and bridging the gap between the citizens and the Afghan government.
The Bonn Conference provided an initial peacebuilding and state-building framework for Afghanistan. It provided for establishing a transitional government leading to elections for a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully-represented government. During 2002-2004, ACSFo’s main goal was to support the further implementation of the Bonn Agreement. The Loya Jirga 2002 leading to the Transitional Government was the first major step towards providing legitimacy to the Afghan government. ACSFo’s main activity in 2003 was the constitution-making process. In 2004, ACSFo was mainly engaged with voter education and events related to the presidential elections that were held on 9 October 2004. Thus, the signing of the Afghanistan Constitution at the end of the Constitutional Loya Jirga in January 2004, presidential elections on 9 October 2004 and the parliamentary elections in September 2005 were the subsequent milestones. ACSFo with its partner organizations successfully implemented three nationwide civic education projects on constitution-making process, presidential elections, and parliamentary elections, educating over 11 million Afghans on elections.
Meanwhile, since 2002 ACSFo has published 62 editions of Jamea-e-Madani (civil society) monthly. In intellectual circles, Jamea-e-Madani is considered as one of the most acclaimed magazine in issues pertaining to civil society. In addition, the civic education section has published booklets and training manuals on democracy, Afghan parliament, women’s rights, citizen rights and Afghanistan constitution.
In December 2004 the process of ‘Afghanization’ (completely Afghan management and employment) started in ACSFo and completed in October 2005. During this process ACSFo became independent from its parent Swiss-peace and since then has been carrying out its activities independently in accordance to the national interests of Afghanistan.
ACSFo’s main thematic areas cover coordination and networking, civic education through media, capacity building, good governance, advocacy and research.
ACSFo represented the civil society of Afghanistan in donor meetings held in Germany, United Kingdom and France. Today, ACSFo has the widest network of civil society actors in Afghanistan, having 314 partner organizations and 137 members (47 individuals and 90 organizational members)
In its coordination and networking ACSFo as an umbrella organization has extensive membership system composed of Civil Society Organizations, Donors, Partners and Individual membership in order to promote and convene the unified voice of civil society.
ACSFo so far has implemented the following major projects:
- USAID/Local Governance and Community Developments;
- Civic Education through Media;
- Promoting Women’s Rights under Islam;
- Initiative to Promote Civil Society (I-PACS);
- Community Policing and Democratic Policing and
- Support to the electoral process (STEP).
ACSFo will continue to work for the inclusion of civil society in bringing stability, peace, reconstruction and development to Afghanistan through the implementation of different projects. ACSFo will further promote a strong civil society voice and confidence-building among stakeholders through consultations and targeted advocacy. Encouraging and mobilizing peoples’ participation in order to determine the future of their country, through building viable capacities and skills and enhancing their citizenship knowledge which are key elements of ACSF strategy.
Mobile: +93 (0) 708 198 279 / +93 (0) 778 686 176
Address: House# 45, Opposite Malalai Maternity Hospital, Jada-e-Malalai, Kabul – Afghanistan