Civil society has long been a key factor in addressing a full range of issues in the social, cultural, religious, humanitarian and political life of Afghanistan. With the focus upon transition to Afghan leadership, civil society, particularly local and national non-governmental organizations (CSOs), have the potential to play an important and complementary role in Afghanistan in the delivery of the government’s priority programs, in supporting improved governance, in connecting the wider Afghan population to the state, and in advocating for the vulnerable and excluded.
NGOs in Afghanistan face challenges, including financial and capacity gaps and a public trust deficit, in their endeavors to play such a role effectively. The government, the international community, and civil society have been considering methods by which to support CSOs to address these challenges and realize their potential, dating back to discussions at the Conference on Enabling Environment for Effective Private Sector Contribution to Development in Afghanistan in June 2007. One of the outcomes of these considerations was the formation of a working group, with representation from international and national NGOs, key national CSO networks, and civil society professionals, to establish an organization that will enable CSOs to address these challenges.
The Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society (AICS) is established with the following aims
1. To raise the credibility of the civil society sector by certifying local CSOs using locally defined and internationally recognized standards.
2. To systemize capacity building efforts by coordinating initiatives using measurable performance indicators.
3. To strengthen the role of civil society in Afghanistan’s development through policy dialogue and active engagement with the government, donors and the broader development sector.
4. To provide a channel for resources for civil society by strengthening philanthropic and corporate social responsibility efforts.