06/02/2002
Press Release
SC/7295



Security Council

4469th Meeting* (AM)


SECRETARY-GENERAL, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE BRAHIMI TELL SECURITY COUNCIL

RAPID DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS PLEDGED ESSENTIAL FOR AFGHAN RECOVERY


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this morning that although he was greatly encouraged by the Tokyo Conference on Afghan reconstruction (January 2002), where donors pledged more than $4.5 billion for Afghanistan over the next five years, an analysis of those pledges revealed some critical gaps.


The Secretary-General was addressing the Council this morning prior to a briefing by his Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi. 

Mr. Annan was informing the Council of his recent visit to Asia, where he had visited Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Qatar, and where, as he stressed, Afghanistan was “the main focus of my discussions”.


The Secretary-General said the Bonn Agreement (December 2001) had focused on long-term needs, but the Afghan Interim Authority needed money today -- for example, to pay the salaries of public servants.  Without resources, the Administration would lose credibility and be unable to extend its authority elsewhere in the country, thereby undermining the success of the longer-term peace process.  Help was desperately needed now.  “The international community must rise to the challenge today, and then stay engaged for the long haul”, he said. 


Mr. Annan also said that security was the number one preoccupation of everyone he had met in Afghanistan.  The security situation was still precarious.  Without security, reconstruction would not be possible and donors would not be able to disburse money they had pledged.


The Secretary-General underscored that one key element in Afghanistan’s recovery would be the support of its neighbours.  Both Iran and Pakistan were committed to strengthening the authority of the Administration and had pledged to work with each other, and with Afghanistan’s other neighbours, to move ahead.  Both countries had also made it clear that they would not tolerate Taliban or

Al Qaeda personnel in their territory.


Reiterating many of the Secretary-General's concerns, Mr. Brahimi said that while the Interim Authority under the leadership of Chairman Hamid Karzai had been working to establish itself as the central government of Afghanistan, it had been hampered by difficult circumstances such as the absence of trained personnel and lack of equipment.


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*     4468th Meeting was closed.

Mr. Brahimi went on to say that the Administration's most important achievement as of 22 January had been payment of civil servants’ salaries, which had enhanced its credibility.  Contributions to the Interim Authority Fund, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had been instrumental in that accomplishment.  But as stated by the Secretary-General, more money was required to ensure continuous salary payments and to provide the bare minimum people expected from a government.


Lending support to the Secretary-General's observations about the precarious security situation, Mr. Brahimi said that last week tensions had erupted in the East and North of Afghanistan.  Those clashes demonstrated the fragility of the peace.  The presence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the capital had led to an improvement in the security situation there, and had led to a demand for expansion of that Force to the rest of country.  He agreed with those demands and hoped the Council would consider them favourably.


The Special Representative emphasized that the Afghan population had very high expectations that the Administration would swiftly improve the security situation.  The Minister of Interior and Defence had called for international assistance to the police and army as soon as possible.  "We cannot react slowly on this issue -- time is really of the essence", added Mr. Brahimi.


Addressing the structure of the future United Nations mission in Afghanistan, the Special Representative said that a consensus was emerging that it would be an integrated mission that would operate with a "light footprint".  It would keep the international and the United Nations presence to a minimum, while giving Afghans as big a role as possible.


Shedding light on other issues that were raised during his recent visit to Asia, the Secretary-General said that in Pakistan he had also discussed relations between India and that country.  He stressed the need for immediate military de-escalation, as well as sustained and determined dialogue to resolve the current situation between the two countries, so that there would not be another crisis in a few weeks or a few months.  He had also renewed his offer of good offices to both parties.


During his visits to both Iran and Qatar, and in talks in Tokyo with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Secretary-General said he had also discussed the downward spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.  “We need to find a way to get the parties back to the negotiating table, where all issues -– including terrorism, as well as occupation -- should be addressed”,

Mr. Annan stressed. 


The meeting began at 11:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.


Introductory Remarks by Secretary-General


KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said that during his recent visit to Asia he had visited Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Qatar. 


According to Mr. Annan, the situation in Afghanistan was the main focus of his discussions throughout the region.  He was greatly encouraged by the Tokyo Conference where donors pledged more than $4.5 billion for five years.  The Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority, Hamid Karzai, had stressed his firm commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of all aid.  He had also made clear his understanding that role of the international community was to help Afghans help themselves.


“At the same time”, continued the Secretary-General, “as we analyse the pledges, we can see some critical gaps.”  The Bonn meeting last December had focused on long-term needs, but the Afghan Interim Authority needed money today -- for example, to pay the salaries of public servants.  Help was desperately needed right now.  “The international community must rise to the challenge today, and then stay engaged for the long haul”, he said. 


Mr. Annan said security was the number one preoccupation of everyone he had met in Afghanistan.  The security situation was still precarious.  Without security, reconstruction would not be possible and donors would not be able to disburse money they had pledged.  The second main concern was the need for the Interim Authority to have the resources to pay public servants.  Without resources, it would quickly lose credibility and be unable to extend its authority elsewhere in the country, thereby undermining the chances for success of the longer-term peace process.


The Secretary-General said one key element in Afghanistan’s recovery would be the support of its neighbours.  Both Iran and Pakistan were committed to strengthening the authority of the Interim Administration and “have pledged to work with each other, with Afghanistan’s other neighbours, as we move ahead”, he said.  Both countries had also made it very clear that they would not tolerate the presence of Taliban or Al Qaeda personnel in their territory. 


The Secretary-General said that during his visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, he discussed relations between India and Pakistan.  President Pervez Musharraf was concerned about the military build-up and expressed his readiness for dialogue.  Pakistan’s President also reiterated his commitment to take strong measures against extremist armed groups. Mr. Annan said that, for his part, he had stressed the need not only for immediate military de-escalation, but also for sustained and determined dialogue aimed at resolving the current situation between the two countries so that there would not be another crisis in a few weeks’ or a few months’ time.  Towards that end, he had renewed his offer of good offices, should both parties wish to avail themselves of them.


Turning to the issue of the Middle East, Mr. Annan said another subject of great concern during his visits to both Iran and Qatar, and in talks in Tokyo with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, was the downward spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.  “We need to find a way to get the parties back to the negotiating table, where all issues should be addressed –- terrorism, as well as occupation”, Mr. Annan stressed.  Without a wider political context, and without some alleviation of the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians, he feared that progress would be nearly impossible and the risk of violence all too great.


In conclusion, the Secretary-General said his Special Representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and his team had done remarkable work.  Throughout his visit, United Nations staff had been a constant source of inspiration.  Despite extremely arduous conditions, their commitment was steadfast and the breadth of their work truly breathtaking.  “They are playing a key role in helping the Afghan people to seize a unique opportunity, and they merit your continued support”, he urged.


Briefing by Special Representative for Afghanistan


LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said since that the transfer of power in Afghanistan on 22 December, the Interim Authority, under the leadership of its Chairman, Hamid Karzai, had been working to establish itself as the central government of Afghanistan, hampered by difficult circumstances such as absence of trained personnel and lack of equipment.  Its most important achievement as of 22 January had been payment of civil servants’ salaries, which had enhanced the administration’s credibility. Contributions to the Interim Authority Fund, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had been instrumental in that accomplishment. However, more money was required to ensure continuous salary payments and to provide the bare minimum people expected from a government.


The Tokyo Conference on Afghan reconstruction had been well attended and substantial pledges had been made.  He emphasized, however, the urgent need for those pledges to be followed up by actual contributions.  A situation must be avoided where large funds would be available in the future, but little was in hand for urgent work to be done now, he said.


Security was the main preoccupation of the Afghan population, he

continued.  Last week, tensions erupted in the East and North of Afghanistan.  In Mazar-i-Sharif, two factions had moved troops into the city.  On 1 February, a joint mediation effort by the Interim Authority and the United Nations had led to the renewal of a demilitarization agreement.  The conflict in Gardez had not been settled yet.  Those clashes demonstrated the fragility of the peace.  The presence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the capital had led to an improvement in the security situation there, and had led to a demand for expansion of ISAF to the rest of country.  He tended to agree with those demands and hoped the Council would consider them favourably.


In the medium and long term, creation of a national police and army would be critical to improving and stabilizing the security situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan had asked Germany for training and other assistance in establishing its police.  There would be a meeting in Berlin, Germany, on 13 February to discuss specific needs.  The United Kingdom had agreed to provide, through ISAF, 190,000 for the most immediate needs of the police in Kabul.  The ISAF was currently training a National Guard battalion of 600 soldiers for a national army.


Mr. Brahimi hoped the international community would help those who had participated in Afghanistan's many wars to return to civilian life in dignity. Reintegration of combatants was an essential part of the peace process.  He emphasized that the Afghan population had very high expectations that the Interim Authority would bring a swift increase in the security situation.  The Minister of Interior and Defence had urged that international assistance to police and army be forthcoming as soon as possible.  "We cannot react slowly on this issue -- time is really of the essence", he said.


United Nations relief activities illustrated the disparate security situation in various parts of the country, he said.  Relief efforts were gathering

momentum and safety was improving in hitherto unsafe areas.  Work on more systematic assessments of needs was gearing up, as well.  The World Food Programme (WFP) was deploying six helicopters in rapid assessment missions to investigate reports of food shortages and even famine in central west Afghanistan.  Despite encouraging developments, insecurity continued to hamper relief efforts.  Tensions in Mazar-i-Sharif last week had almost led to evacuation of United Nations staff. Even in areas considered safe, the security environment remained fragile.


Insecurity also had a serious impact on population movements, he said, both as a cause for further displacement and a disincentive for return.  Security would become more relevant when large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons would want to return home for the planting season in March and April.  Some 105,000 returnees had been moving to safe urban areas such as Kabul and Heart, instead of going to their areas of origin.  Afghans seeking refuge in Pakistan were still arriving at the Chaman border crossing.


The Bonn Agreement had provided for a special independent commission for the convening of an emergency Loya Jirga within one month after the transfer of power. That commission had started work on 29 January.  The Loya Jirga would meet within the five-month time frame provided for in the Bonn Agreement.  A proposal for the re-establishment of a Civil Service Commission was now with the Interim Administration.  With the establishment of the Loya Jirga Commission, and the Civil Service Commission, two of the critical milestones in peace process would have been met.  Efforts were now focused on the formation of the Judicial Commission and the Human Rights Commission.


Regarding the structure of the future United Nations mission in Afghanistan, he said a consensus was emerging that it would be an integrated mission that would operate with a "light footprint", keeping the international United Nations presence to a minimum, while giving Afghan colleagues as big a role as possible. Nigel Fisher, as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Affairs, would play an important part in bringing together the different parts of the United Nations system working there. In the near future, the Secretary-General would appoint a Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan to replace Mr. Vendrell.


Afghanistan had gone some way on the road towards peace and stability,

Mr. Brahimi said in conclusion, but that road was very long and fraught with danger.  The Afghan people were tired – “indeed exhausted” – by conflict and wanted peace.  They knew that they needed support from friends and neighbours, as well as from the international community, and that the United Nations had a central role to play in mobilizing and channelling that help.  The hope of the people of Afghanistan was that the international community and the United Nations would stand by the people of Afghanistan for the long haul.


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