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Diplomacy in Action

New Leadership of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan

Thomas Nides
   Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources 
William R. Brownfield
   Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 21, 2011


ASSISTANT SECRETARY BROWNFIELD (MODERATOR): Ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to the presentation ceremony of the new leadership of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. I am your master of ceremonies. I am, as well, Bill Brownfield, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, a strong and committed supporter of this program and this partnership.

It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome here as well the ambassador of Afghanistan, Ambassador Eklil Hakimi. It is a pleasure to welcome to this event the Deputy Secretary of State, Tom Nides. I believe concealed here somewhere is the Deputy Special Representative to the President of the United States for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dan Feltman; current, but outgoing Public-Private Partnership chairs Robert O’Brien and my immediate predecessor as INL, David Johnson; the incoming chair, Tom Umberg. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to all of you.

In the year 2007, the PPP was established, based upon a very simple concept that Afghanistan’s future was inevitably linked to its legal system and the ability of that system to deliver justice for the Afghan people. And as part of that principle was the concept that the best way the international community – and more specifically, the United States of America – could offer support for that principle would be in partnership between the public and the private sectors of the United States of America.

Since that time, ladies and gentlemen, this partnership has delivered Afghan legal practitioners to training and visits in the United States of America, Afghan law students with scholarships to U.S. law schools, a rule of law chair at a major university in Afghanistan, visiting scholars at institutions such as the University of Washington, postgraduate training for Afghan Government lawyers, and continued training for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges throughout the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest to you that this Public-Private Partnership has been a serious success, and Afghanistan is a better country for that effort. It is now, therefore, both an honor and a distinct pleasure to present to you the next co-chair of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform, a gentlemen who is uniquely qualified by both his public and his private sector experience to serve in this role. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the duke of deputies, the baron of budgets, the marquis of management, the Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides. (Applause.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY NIDES: Thank you. If no one’s ever been humiliated, you want to have Bill Brownfield introduce you – (laughter) – and that will achieve all of your goals. But thank you very much. And I second Bill’s commitment, and certainly his enthusiasm. There’s probably – the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Brownfield, there’s no one who cares more about this and cares more about what we’re doing in Afghanistan and the rule of law than his leadership, as shown by the crowd that we have here.

In fact, there’s people in the back. We could – we still have some room over here, and please come in so you can hear and be part of it.

But I want to thank you very much. I’m honored to serve as the co-chair of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. And as some of you know, I left the private sector in January, so I’m quite delighted, and my wife is quite delighted, that I’m taking on a second job. (Laughter.) So thank you, Bill. I’m sure it’s not going to be very lucrative, but I certainly am glad to have the honor.

This initiative – it brings together two of my goals as deputy secretary: first, to help this Department build effective partnerships, which this is all about, that reach beyond government. And the second is to lay the groundwork for Afghanistan’s economic future, working with my good friend, Dan Feltman.

I want to thank Assistant Secretary Brownfield, as I mentioned, and the outgoing co-chairmen, Ambassador David Johnson and Robert O’Brien, who have made this program such a huge success. I’m looking forward to continuing their work with my co-chair, Tom Umberg. Thank you very, very much.

Our mission evolves as troops begin to come home, as we work to achieve the political endgame that serves the Afghan people. We urgently need to help the Afghans build a viable peacetime economy. In the short run, that means reinvesting money that coalition countries have spent on the military missions to fund our diplomacy efforts and development. Over the long run, it means helping the Afghans connect to the regional web of transit and economic connections across south and central Asia. We like to refer to this as the New Silk Road. That’s our vision. And none of it will be possible unless the Afghans lay a firm foundation for their future now.

We support programs like the PPP because history has taught us that if you want a stable, prosperous, fair, and democratic society, you had better have the rule of law. The rule of law is what assures the Afghan businessman that his contract will be honored. It provides citizens with security and prevents the abuse of power. It lets foreign investors know that if they come to Afghanistan, they will be treated fairly. It recognizes universal rights and protects people regardless of their gender, tribe, or religion. Everyone is equal under the eyes of the law. That’s what makes the rule of law an important foundation for a peaceful and democratic state.

So how do we get there? For the last ten years, America has worked with the Afghan people as they rebuild their institutions. This hasn’t always been easy, as the ambassador knows. But we can now point to real progress; progress that is the credit, Mr. Ambassador, to the Afghan leadership, and above all, to the Afghan people. PPP is also part of a story of progress. Back in 2007, the State Department reached out to America law firms and law school to provide the unique talents and skills to help the Afghan people. And you just didn’t answer the call – you led the charge. You gave over $3 million worth of cash and legal work, and we know, in this economy, getting anything for free is significant. You gave over $3 million and you started a terrific public-private partnership. And at a time when the budget is tight – and believe me, the budget is tight right now – we have to think creatively.

This is about making every dollar go farther and finding ways to mobilize new resources without spending additional taxpayers’ money. You guys have helped take on one of the great challenges in restoring the rule of law: a lack of a trained legal professions in Afghanistan. You supported dialogues between the Americans and Afghan lawyers, and you’ve created the LM Scholarship Program that helps talented Afghans study in top schools, such as Stanford and Harvard, and then return to serve their communities.

Ten students will graduate from this program this year alone to join the alumni who’ve gone to work for the UN in Kabul and at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One opened a private law firm in Afghanistan. Another created a guide to Afghan laws to share their learning and guide judges and lawyers across the country. This is a small program, but we’re having significant impact. These are the next generation of Afghan leaders, and we are helping them serve their country.

And I’d also like to commend the PPP for helping empower Afghan women and ensuring they can be full participants in their country’s future. Of the PPP’s ten scholars, three are women. When you consider that women are forbidden from going to school or working outside their homes under the Taliban, you realize how remarkable that is. I want to recognize one woman scholar in particular who is here today. Ghazal Hassan started part-time this fall at Catholic University, as part of the LLM program. And she’s also working full-time and supporting her entire family. You are really cool. Congratulations.

This is why we engage in programs like this one – to help Afghan men, women, and children, who have lived for too long, with too much war, and too little prosperity. One scholarship at a time, PPP is helping Afghans build a better and more just future for themselves and their country. It’s a great program and I’m honored to be part of it. Thank you all for coming. Thank you.

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