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Roundtable Discussion with UNOPS Afghanistan Director


Speaker Paul Cruickshank

The Ochanomizu University Global Collaboration Center (GCC) invited Mr. Paul Cruickshank, Director and Representative in Afghanistan for the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to a roundtable discussion held on November 28, 2018. Practitioners, researchers, and faculty members with an interest in Afghanistan took part in a lively exchange of views.

Mr. Cruickshank has a decade of experience in peace-building in Afghanistan, and has spent more than 30 years working on security sector reforms and disaster relief in countries affected by conflicts and disasters, including Indonesia (Banda Aceh), Kosovo, Iraq, and South Sudan. The UNOPS Tokyo Office approached GCC to suggest some form of joint event during his visit to Japan, resulting in this roundtable discussion.

After welcoming remarks by Associate Professor Chisa Hara, Deputy Director of GCC, Mr. Cruickshank outlined the mission and activities of UNOPS, the history of Afghanistan and current international aid efforts, and projects being implemented by the UNOPS Afghanistan office, before delivering a presentation on the role of women in peace-building.

Attendees at seminar

He began by explaining that UNOPS is unique among UN agencies in that it does not receive a core budget from UN Headquarters. All its activities are carried out on a project basis, which makes its management style very similar to the private sector. He then gave an overview of Afghanistan’s history, pointing out that the lessons of the past should still be heeded today. After that, he described in detail the projects that the UNOPS Afghanistan office is engaged in, such as building roads, clearing snow and dealing with avalanches, repairing hospitals, universities, and airports, and using renewable energy to supply water and electricity.

Mr. Cruickshank noted that Japan is a reliable and long-standing donor to UNOPS that has built close cooperative relationships on projects including border control in Takhar Province, road-building in Ghor and Bamyan Provinces, and construction of buildings at Kabul University. He pointed out that active roles for women in peace-building and reconstruction support initiatives stimulate steady economic growth in countries where such activities take place and enable women to participate in, and contribute to, peace processes pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1325. He also stressed that such participation is vital to achieving Goal 5 (Gender Equality) of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Q&A session was enlivened by discussion on a wide range of topics, including public security, politics, socioeconomics, donor fatigue, and refugees. The question of how to effectively and accountably manage projects amid the volatile security situation in Afghanistan was also debated from many angles. GCC will continue to actively disseminate information and encourage discussion on Afghanistan and other countries facing difficult challenges.

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