Canada-Afghanistan Bilateral Relations

Canada and Afghanistan re-established diplomatic relations in 2002 following the fall of the Taliban. Canada is represented in Afghanistan by the Embassy of Canada in Kabul and appointed its first resident ambassador in 2003. Afghanistan, which appointed its first resident ambassador to Canada in 2002, is represented by the Embassy of Afghanistan in Ottawa.

Bilateral relations between Canada and Afghanistan are strong. They are founded upon Canada’s early engagement in the efforts to remove the Taliban regime, to rid Afghanistan of terrorism, to support the Afghan people to govern themselves democratically and to support the Afghan government with its mandate to deliver basic services to all Afghans. Canada remains committed to helping Afghanistan build a more stable, secure and democratic country, and one that will respect human rights, particularly the rights of Afghan women and girls.

Building on Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, Canada has committed $465 million for ongoing development and security assistance from 2017 to 2021.

Development assistance

At the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016, Canada committed $270 million in development assistance for Afghanistan from 2017 to 2021. The funding is critical to sustaining the progress already made in the country and contributes to a secure and stable Afghanistan.

Canadian development initiatives in Afghanistan are aligned with Afghan government priorities and are framed by a women’s and girls’ rights first approach toward education, health and human rights. Through these initiatives, Canada is:

  • increasing the self-reliance of the Afghan government to deliver basic services to its people;
  • helping empower women and girls through targeted activities to promote and protect their rights;
  • increasing access to economic opportunities for women and girls;
  • reducing the vulnerability of women and girls to the impact of climate change;
  • improving access to health services specifically for women, newborns and children;
  • promoting reproductive rights; and
  • Increasing access to safe, quality basic education.

Women’s and girls’ rights and advocacy

Afghanistan remains among the countries with the lowest levels of gender equality achievements, ranking 154 out of 159 countries in the United Nations Gender Inequality Index in 2016. Recognizing the powerful potential of women and girls as agents of change, Canada supports the empowerment of women and girls as the most effective way to reduce poverty and build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Under the umbrella of a women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment portfolio of projects, Canada is working on a national scale with civil society partners and international organizations. Through these partnerships, Canada is helping promote the rights of women and girls, including addressing gender-based violence, supporting women’s economic empowerment and building leadership capacities. Our partners work in diverse areas, such as legal aid, skills development training and the establishment of micro enterprises, radio program development, and the protection and referral services for survivors of gender-based violence.

In addition, Canada is providing support to Afghan women’s rights organizations and their networks to support the rights and empowerment of women and girls throughout Afghanistan.

Support for Afghan National Security Forces

In July 2016, Canada committed $195 million to help sustain the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) from 2018 to 2021. Canada provides this security sector support through NATO’s Afghan National Army Trust Fund (ANATF) and the United Nations Development Programme’s Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA). In addition to funding the ANATF and LOTFA, Canada also plays a leadership role in Afghan and international efforts to professionalize the police as a civilian force as co-chair, alongside the Afghan government, of the International Police Coordination Board and the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs Support Team.

Canada’s contributions to the ANATF continue to sustain and strengthen the Afghan National Army through training and operational support. This includes providing supplies and pharmaceuticals to security force personnel, replacing medical supplies damaged or destroyed in the 2017 terrorist attack on the Kabul National Military Hospital (KNMH), helping build a rehabilitation centre at the KNMH and supporting the construction of secure accommodation for female members of the Afghan National Police (ANP). In keeping with our women’s and girls’ rights first approach in Afghanistan, increasing the number of qualified women in the ANDSF is a priority for Canada.

Through LOTFA, Canada contributes to the increased professionalization and effectiveness of the ANP. This includes assisting the ANP as it transitions from a counter-insurgency to a civilian force so that it can become fully able to enforce law and order in Afghanistan.

Commercial relations

Bilateral trade between Canada and Afghanistan totalled $30.4 million in 2016. Merchandise exports to Afghanistan (primarily machinery and parts) were $ 26.4 million, while Canadian merchandise imports from Afghanistan (led by fruits and nuts) stood at $4 million in 2016. A small number of Canadian companies are pursuing business opportunities in the country, including in mining, information and communication technologies, transport, engineering services and agriculture.

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