Fifty-seventh General Assembly
68th and 69th Meetings (AM & PM)
ASSEMBLY, URGING GROUPS IN AFGHANISTAN TO RENOUNCE VIOLENCE AND RESPECT
AUTHORITY, SAYS COUNTRY STILL NEEDS INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
Text Asks Donors to Fulfil Commitments Made; Need to Establish
Lasting Peace, Security, Stability throughout Country Is Stressed
The General Assembly this afternoon called on all Afghan groups to renounce the use of violence, respect human rights, adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, respect the authority of the Transitional Authority and to implement fully the provisions of the agreement reached in Bonn, Germany, culminating in a constitutional Loya Jirga and national elections in 2004.
It took that action as it adopted, without a vote, a two-part resolution on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan and the situation in Afghanistan, and its implications for international peace and security.
In doing so, the Assembly also called on donor countries that pledged financial aid at the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, held in Tokyo on 21 and 22 January, to fulfil their assumed commitments promptly, and it called on all Member States to provide humanitarian assistance and to support the Transitional Authority.
In addition, the Assembly strongly condemned all acts of violence and intimidation directed against humanitarian personnel and the United Nations and associated personnel, and regretted the loss of life and physical harm suffered among their staff.
The general view during the Assembly’s discussion at two meetings today was that despite achievements since the signing of the Bonn Agreement, many challenges remained in Afghanistan. Continued interest, vigilance and support by the international community were said to be crucial. The key impediment to the full implementation of the Bonn Agreement, it was felt by many, was the still precarious security situation and the limited authority of the Transitional Authority in the provinces.
Among the forthcoming milestones in the peace process were the constitutional Loya Jirga and the holding of general elections in 2004. However, there were many challenges ahead in the period leading up to those elections, noted Denmark’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and
associated States. To ensure free and fair elections, she urged the Government to establish an independent electoral commission to oversee the process.
Introducing the draft resolution, Germany’s representative noted that it would take enormous efforts and many years to achieve lasting stability in the country. With regard to the security situation, he commended the important decision made by President Karzai, last Monday in Bonn, to substantially reform and restructure the Afghan army. He said that Germany, together with the Netherlands, would be taking over the leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the coming weeks.
The representative of Afghanistan noted that reconstruction of physical, economic and social infrastructures would have a direct impact on the consolidation of peace and security, while the creation of jobs and the provision of social services and economic opportunities were required to give hope and confidence to the population and enhance the credibility and authority of the central Government.
At the outset of the meeting, a summary of the open-ended panel on Afghanistan, held on 18 November, was presented by Assembly Vice-President Clifford Sibusiso Mamba (Swaziland).
In other action, the Assembly, on the recommendation of its General Committee, decided to include in its current agenda an additional item entitled “International Year of Rice, 2004” and to consider it directly in plenary meeting.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Iran, United States, Uzbekistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Ukraine, Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Mongolia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Norway and Japan.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 December, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan.
According to the report of the Secretary-General on the item (document A/57/410), significant achievements in the delivery of humanitarian and recovery assistance include the assisted return of more than 1 million refugees, the return to school of more than 3 million children and a 90 per cent increase in girls’ enrolment, several country-wide immunization campaigns, and the effective and coordinated response to several natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and a severe locust infestation.
Afghanistan continues to face serious humanitarian challenges, the report states. Given the complex interaction among drought, food insecurity and poppy cultivation, urgent action is needed to strengthen livelihood opportunities in vulnerable areas while supporting the reintegration of returning populations into host communities. This will require a better analysis of vulnerability in targeted areas and the ongoing provision of humanitarian assistance that addresses the immediate needs of vulnerable communities while also facilitating their recovery over the longer term.
The precarious situation in Afghanistan suggests two important priorities for Member States to consider, the report states. The first is to ensure that the winter response plan being drawn up by United Nations agencies and the Government is well resourced. Millions of people face considerable hardship over this winter, and urgently require assistance. Secondly, the Government needs financing to meet its own core costs, and to support the needs of its own people. A substantial deficit is projected, which will lead to cuts in the services that the Government hopes to provide. Member States are strongly encouraged to provide support to the Government through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.
The Afghan Government has clearly signaled its intention to take the lead in the country’s reconstruction. However, it cannot accomplish this task alone and requires sustained assistance from the international community. Therefore, the Secretary-General appeals to the donor community to reaffirm its commitment to support Afghanistan through the full range of needs, extending from humanitarian assistance to development aid.
The report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/57/487) describes the ongoing work of the Transitional Administration to implement the Bonn Agreement. It focuses on a number of initiatives to enhance Government capacity, encourage private-sector growth and reform fiscal policy to allow the Government to gather revenues and to allocate and disburse them transparently and effectively.
The report further describes efforts by the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and to support the Afghan Government in reconstruction activities. Significant progress has been noted in the field of health, primary education and assistance to returnees. The report also outlines efforts by the United Nations to support the Government as it defines priorities in the key sectors of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
A key impediment to implementation of the Bonn Agreement remains the deteriorating security climate, states the report. While efforts have been made to resolve conflicts between still-powerful leaders in some areas, a number of acts of terrorism and political violence have been perpetrated. While the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) continues to effectively patrol Kabul, more security measures by the international community are required beyond the capital. Efforts are ongoing to build and train a new Afghan army and police force, and to prepare for concomitant disarmament and demobilization of combatants who will not be recruited into State security structures.
A related draft resolution (document A/57/L.56) contains two parts. Part A is entitled, “The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security”. It would have the Assembly call on all Afghan groups to renounce the use of violence, respect human rights, adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, respect the authority of the Transitional Authority and implement fully the provisions of the agreement reached in Bonn, Germany, culminating in a constitutional Loya Jirga and national elections in 2004.
The Assembly would also call on donor countries that pledged financial aid at the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, held in Tokyo on 21 and 22 January, to fulfil their assumed commitments promptly, and also call on all Member States to provide humanitarian assistance and to support the Transitional Authority, including through the provision of direct budgetary support, as well as through long-term assistance for the economic and social reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
Also, the Assembly would call for continued international assistance to the vast number of Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons, to facilitate their safe and orderly return and sustainable reintegration into society, so as to contribute to the stability of the entire country.
By Part B of the text entitled “Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan”, the Assembly would strongly condemn all acts of violence and intimidation directed against humanitarian personnel and the United Nations and associated personnel, and regret the loss of life and physical harm suffered among their staff. It would also urge the Transitional Authority and local authorities to ensure the safety, security and free movement of all United Nations and humanitarian personnel, as well as their safe and unimpeded access to all affected populations and to protect the property of the United Nations and of humanitarian organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In addition, the Assembly would strongly condemn continuing discrimination against women and girls, as well as ethnic and religious groups, including minorities, wherever such discrimination takes place. It would also urgently appeal to all States, the United Nations system and international and non-governmental organizations to continue to provide, in close collaboration with the Transitional Authority and Afghan civil society, all possible humanitarian, financial, technical and material assistance for the Afghan population.
CLIFFORD SIBUSISO MAMBA (Swaziland), reading a statement on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, noted that this week marked the one-year anniversary of the Bonn Agreement on Afghanistan. Thus, the Assembly’s discussion provided an opportunity to glean the lessons learned from the past year. On 18 November 2002, the General Assembly had convened an open-ended panel on Afghanistan, in accordance with resolution 57/8.
At the outset of the panel, messages from both Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, were read, he said. They had acknowledged the tremendous progress accomplished in the past year, but recognized that many challenges remained. In the course of the first session on political issues, the overarching theme had been the importance of reconstruction, security and institution building. There was a need to quicken the pace of reconstruction and further enhance security. As they went hand in hand, further progress on both issues was essential to the legitimacy of the Afghan Government and the Bonn Agreement. Afghanistan was also placed in its regional context, stressing that enhancing Afghan security would play an important role in regional development.
During the second session, issues such as aid disbursement, refugees, drugs and the status of women were considered. Both panels yielded specific proposals. In the political context, some proposals related to the need to address the link between security and the political process and to enhance cooperation in training the new Afghan army. Others concerned the need for the United Nations to play a coordinating role in the electoral process and for an international summit to launch a new regional mechanism to focus on regional issues and to report issues of non-interference to the Security Council. In the economic context, suggested proposals concerned the need to sustain levels of donor resources and international attention and for cross-sectoral programmes to address drug cultivation, and the need to create an environment conducive to the return of minorities to their home areas.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), introducing the draft resolution on Afghanistan, noted that the date for the discussion and adoption of this year’s Afghanistan resolution was deliberately chosen to commemorate the first anniversary of the Bonn Agreement. In the last year, Afghanistan had come a long way in many respects. The Emergency Loya Jirga had been successfully held in June; President Karzai had been elected; and the Transitional Authority had been established and would remain in office until the elections planned for 2004. The commissions mandated under the Bonn Agreement had been established, and the Afghan police and army had been reconstituted and were being built up as a matter of priority. Afghanistan had a new currency; economic life was reviving; humanitarian aid was reaching those in need; and schools were open once again.
At the same time, much remained to be done, he continued. It would take enormous efforts and many years to achieve lasting stability in the country. The key impediment to the full implementation of the Bonn Agreement was the still precarious security environment and the limited authority of the Transitional Authority in the provinces. In that regard, he commended the important decision made by President Karzai, last Monday in Bonn, to substantially reform and restructure the Afghan army. However, the increase in terrorist incidents in Kabul since the Emergency Loya Jirga, especially the attack against President Karzai, constituted a source of serious concern.
Therefore, he said, the United Nations and the international community must remain committed to Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan would gain courage when they saw that the international community continued to care about them. The
conference that his Government had convened earlier in the week in Bonn sent such a message. Together with the Netherlands, Germany would assume the leadership of the ISAF in the coming weeks.
RAVAN A. G. FARHÂDI (Afghanistan) said that the strong political will of major Afghan parties had contributed highly to the timely and smooth implementation of the Bonn Agreement, which represented a significant episode in the history of the country. Among the major developments in Afghanistan, compared to the period of Taliban rule, were: the return of peace and stability prompting the return of an estimated 2 million refugees from neighbouring countries; the success of the “Back to School” campaign, by which more than 3 million children were enrolled in school; the resumption of active involvement in the political, social and economic life of the country by women; the establishment of the Independent Human Rights Commission, Judiciary Commission, Civil Service Commission and the Drafting Committee of the Constitution; the convening of the Loya Jirga and the election of President Karzai; and the introduction of the new Afghan currency.
Countless problems and challenges remained, despite these achievements, he said. Some terrorist activity against the civilian population had been carried out, including assassinations and assassination attempts, while the remnants of Al Qaeda/Taliban and their extremist allies had not hidden their hostility to the Government. Those terrorist activities and other recent political developments in the region required continued vigilance, and could require the strengthening and accelerating of the formation, training and equipping of the national army and police.
To combat those threats, the Afghan Government, with the support of the international community, had several tools at its disposal, he said. Reconstruction of the physical, economic and social infrastructure of Afghanistan would have a direct impact on the consolidation of peace and security, while the creation of jobs and the provision of social services and economic opportunities were required to give hope and confidence to the population and enhance the credibility and authority of the central Government. Reconstruction would also assist in the eradication of poppy cultivation and deprive many local leaders of their armed followers, inviting them to become leaders and managers of reconstruction.
Afghanistan needed to become a transit and transport crossroads of trade, linking the Middle East and Central and South Asia, he added, which had been the pivotal economic role of the country for many centuries. Thus, the Transitional Government had prepared and adopted a National Development Framework, including a national development budget. The draft resolution before the Assembly clearly indicated that the international community should channel its assistance through the Government and concentrate on building the capacity of Afghans. Moreover, as the pledges made in Tokyo were insufficient, additional resources were needed to meet the tasks of recovery and reconstruction. Finally, he noted that in accordance with the Bonn Agreement, the Loya Jirga had elected President Karzai and the Transitional Government by secret ballot and that preparations were under way for elections in mid-2004.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said progress had been made since the Bonn Agreement. The upcoming Consultative Group meeting indicated that the Transitional Government had clear priorities and goals. However, there were many challenges ahead in the period leading up to elections in 2004. To ensure free and fair elections, she urged the Government to establish an independent electoral commission to oversee the process. It was important for the Government to extend its authority nationwide in order to realize its objectives.
The European Union stood ready to assist the Government in eliminating illicit poppy cultivation and was concerned about human rights law violations in parts of the country. Although many European countries had contributed troops to ISAF, which had improved the security situation in and around Kabul, there was still concern about the deteriorating security situation in the country. In order to achieve lasting peace and security, the army and police had to be strengthened.
She was pleased with the extent and speed of return of refugees, but their successful reintegration constituted a challenge to be addressed in the context of efforts to ensure political stability. In that regard, she urged the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to continue its important coordinating role in the whole of Afghanistan. The Union had responded with large-scale assistance to the humanitarian and reconstruction needs in the country, and remained committed to providing assistance in the future.
M. JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that although considerable progress had been made by the Afghan people under President Karzai, he agreed with the Secretary-General that the most serious challenge facing the country remained the lack of security. The most urgent priority, therefore, was the creation and deployment of a national army and police force throughout the country. Towards that end, Iran had assisted with the training of 400 Afghan police. Forceful actions were also needed to deal with drug traffickers, whose activities could undermine and reverse the progress achieved thus far.
Over the past year, his Government had demonstrated its determination to develop good and mutually beneficial relations with Afghanistan. The development of such relations had led to an exchange of presidential visits and the conclusion of several agreements between the two countries, especially in the economic field. Moreover, a meeting of finance ministers from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in May, had been held in Tehran. The ministers had signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for development and also had decided to establish a follow-up mechanism.
Concerning the return of refugees from Iran to Afghanistan, his Government remained fully committed to the implementation of the trilateral agreement signed with the Afghan authorities and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). However, in keeping with its policy of combating terrorism, Iran had arrested a number of Afghan and non-Afghan suspects along their common border who were suspected of illegal activities.
RICHARD S. WILLIAMSON (United States) said Afghanistan’s recovery was incomplete and fragile. The United Nations shared with Afghanistan the common goal of seeing that nation resume its proper place in the international community, and enjoying a stable, broadly representative Government, which respected human rights for all of its citizens and was at peace with itself and its neighbours. To turn that shared goal into reality, the international community must intensify its partnership with the Afghan Government and find ways to increase its reach and effectiveness.
In that context, the international community must make the transition from humanitarian assistance to reconstruction and focus on projects that would help Afghans help themselves, he said. It was necessary to fully explore the role and expertise of the private sector and be prepared to shift assistance when the needs dictated. Only through reconstruction, education and development could Afghanistan break the hold of opium poppy production on its people. The international community must redouble efforts and find a way to devote more resources to reconstruction, while continuing to meet ongoing humanitarian needs.
Afghanistan’s requirements were proving much larger than were anticipated in Tokyo, he noted. Moreover, the severity of the country’s humanitarian emergency absorbed a much higher percentage of the funds pledged in Tokyo than the donor community anticipated. The achievement of an accelerated reconstruction process, the rebuilding of security institutions, effective aid that met humanitarian needs, and full funding of Afghanistan’s budget would mean that the international community was living up to its commitment to the Afghan people. His delegation joined consensus on the draft resolution while noting that the United States was not a party to the Ottawa Convention.
ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said the Bonn Agreement had given the Afghan people an opportunity to break out of the vicious cycle of conflict and to integrate fully into the international community. In assessing the current situation, it was comforting to note that the general situation was substantially more positive than just over a year ago. It was obvious, however, that the situation in Afghanistan and bordering territories was far from resolved. This was due to the decade-long apathy of the international community faced with the transformation of the area into a place for fanatics and the drug trade. The threat of international terrorism from this region still remained, and it was important to continue action to eradicate it.
The growing production of drugs was also alarming, he said. The international drug trade was very powerful and well organized, and while the Afghan Transitional Authority had issued decrees and decisions for the eradication of poppy cultivation, the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) had predicted that global trends for illegal drug production could soon rise to levels seen in the mid-1990s. The fight against the production and export of drugs required multilateral cooperation; the fight in Afghanistan must be conducted not just by stepping up punitive measures and tightening a belt around the country, but by improving the situation in the country -- providing jobs and economic alternatives.
With regard to the security situation, he said that the presence of various armed groups continued to be a threat to peacekeeping and civilian rule in Afghanistan. Welcoming the commitment to the establishment of a national army and police force in Afghanistan, he warned that Afghanistan would remain a threat to international peace and security without a broadening of the mandate of ISAF. It should be given a mandate for a presence in regions outside of Kabul. In the context of the tremendous build-up of arsenals in Afghanistan, he called attention to the Uzbek initiative for disarmament, including the reduction of weapons, particularly heavy weapons, among the Afghan population.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said it was too early to draw a final conclusion that the settlement in Afghanistan was close to completion. It was still necessary to continue towards the end of the “road map” agreed on a year ago in Bonn, including the holding of the constitutional Loya Jirga and the general elections in 2004. The security situation in the country also remained critical. Recent missile shelling in Kabul and attacks on the anti-terrorist coalition forces proved that some groups aiming to undermine the peace process still remained in Afghanistan.
He supported the recent Security Council resolution on the extension of the ISAF mandate for an additional one-year period, and welcomed the readiness expressed by Germany and the Netherlands to take over the lead of the Force, he said. At the same time, in the long run, only a powerful Afghan army and national police could guarantee stability over the whole territory in Afghanistan. It was critical that the international community continued to maintain unity and provide support to the peace process. That could only be achieved with the central coordinating role of the United Nations.
The past year, he stated, had demonstrated the relevance of the integration of humanitarian and long-term development assistance, and had reaffirmed the importance of national ownership in post-conflict peace building and development. More effective coordination of the efforts of bilateral donors, United Nations programmes and funds, international organizations and NGOs was also needed. Remaining challenges included the return of refugees and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) provision of housing and safe drinking water, rebuilding of the physical infrastructure and job creation. Efforts should also be made to control poppy cultivation, reintegrate ex-combatants and implement the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan.
RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said Tajikistan had provided all possible assistance to the democratically elected leadership of Afghanistan. The positive processes gaining momentum in Afghanistan were viewed optimistically, such as efforts for the reconstruction of the unbalanced socio-economic infrastructure, the greater role played by women since the fall of the Taliban and the reinvigoration of civil society and of political and social life. However, in noting the successes that had been achieved, one should not forget that attempts to untie “the Afghan knot” had been under way for more than 20 years.
Even brief pauses in the political process and humanitarian, reconstructive and anti-terrorist work could lead to the suspension of progress, he said. One of the lessons learned from recent experience in Afghanistan was that unless all sections of society were politically and morally accountable to the people, reconstruction would be impossible to achieve. As the international community had a vital interest in establishing a comprehensive peace, normalizing the situation and rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, it should continue to provide all possible assistance to the Afghan Government, which could not meet the challenge of recreating and restoring the country without consistent and growing support.
Honouring the commitments made at Tokyo was of critical importance, he said. Another grave concern was the drug trade, which was felt with particular poignancy in Tajikistan. In the last two years, the volume of confiscated drugs had grown ten-fold. An effective anti-narcotics coalition needed to be established, not just to control the drug trade, but also to provide assistance to the Afghan
Government in providing viable alternatives to farmers.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said his country was proud to have made a modest contribution to the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, in line with the pledge it made during the Tokyo Conference. Based on their bilateral relations, Malaysia was prepared to provide further assistance. He went on to assess the post-conflict reconstruction needs of Afghanistan, which he identified as: security, good governance and economic opportunity.
He stressed the need for the Government to extend its authority throughout the country. Peace building required the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of warlords and their followers who would lose their livelihoods. Failure to do that could cause the fragile peace to unravel. He called for increased assistance to meet the shortfall in pledges that had resulted from the needs of Afghanistan being underestimated. It was also necessary and important to give women a critical role in the reconstruction of the country, and for children to be rehabilitated and retrained as an indispensable national asset for the country’s future. The international community must also assist the Government in order to eradicate opium production, he said.
MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) said the work done by the Transitional Authority in Afghanistan for realization of the Bonn Agreement was impressive, particularly the results of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA), and pledged Ukraine’s readiness to provide and share with Afghanistan its experience in mine-clearing operations. Despite those achievements, however, the country still faced a grave humanitarian challenge, acute security problems and an unstable political environment.
Concerned about the possibility of a relapse into warlordism and lawlessness in the country, he stressed that success in the security sphere depended primarily on the commitment of the major Afghan factions. It was their responsibility to set aside short-term factional interests and prevent existing divisions. Peace and stability in Afghanistan also depended on the international community’s sustained engagement in providing funding for reconstruction. The reconstruction of the economic and social infrastructure remained critical to the viability of the peace process.
The fight against illegal drug production was another headache for the international community, and it was regrettable that the comprehensive anti-narcotics strategy, including the provision of alternatives to poppy cultivation, had faltered this year. Further, he believed that rebuilding the economy and infrastructure, addressing the issue of refugees and drafting a new constitution would remain the priority tasks of the Transitional Authority for the next year.
SAAD AL-KUBAISI (Qatar) said that the reports before the Assembly reflected the very difficult and tragic situation faced by the Afghan people. The challenges they faced were multiple and complex. After the fall of the Taliban regime and the signing of the Bonn Agreement, the Transitional Authority had entered into office, following the holding of the Emergency Loya Jirga in March. Since then, the situation had greatly evolved on several levels. The international community, as well as the United Nations organizations, had all played a commendable role in restoring peace and stability. Efforts also included assistance to displaced persons, both inside and outside the country, leading to voluntary returns, as well as demining activities.
Afghanistan continued to face daunting humanitarian challenges, particularly because winter was approaching, and millions of Afghans would find themselves in an increasingly difficult situation, he said. That situation was made even more urgent since the Transitional Authority did not have the means to tackle those challenges adequately. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which had convened a meeting in Doha at the beginning of November, decided to create a special fund to assist the Afghan people, following a proposal made by the Emir of Qatar. In addition to assisting with the humanitarian needs, that fund also aimed to train Afghans to have normal lives once again and to aid in the reconstruction of the country.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his country had worked closely with the international community to implement the Bonn Agreement. At the Tokyo Conference, Pakistan had pledged $100 million over a five-year period -- of that sum, $20 million had already been disbursed. Within its limited resources, Pakistan would provide whatever assistance it could to help with Afghanistan’s reconstruction. In addition, it was keen to bring about the greater integration of Afghanistan into regional economic cooperation structures. It was prepared to take that process one step further by signing a free trade agreement with Afghanistan.
Focusing on security matters, he said Pakistan had been involved in the interdiction of terrorists from Afghanistan. He called on the international community, acting through ISAF, to expand its presence in Afghanistan in order to consolidate peace and security there. Drawing attention to the link between peace, security and economic development, he emphasized the need to rehabilitate agriculture in a country where most people lived in rural areas. Health and education also needed urgent attention. He pointed out that, over the last two decades, Pakistan had hosted millions of Afghan refugees without any appreciable international assistance. Although 1 million had returned home voluntarily, at least 2 million remained in Pakistan. He wanted the international community to assist in that area.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said that the Bonn Agreement, the convening of the Loya Jirga and the preparation of the new constitution were important developments for a country that had known 25 years of conflict, the devastation of infrastructure and widespread human suffering. Driven by a desire to achieve peace, security and stability in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia had provided assistance, including US$20 million to the Afghan budget, and contributed to the United Nations fund covering the salaries of the Transitional Administration. Among other contributions, Saudi Arabia had pledged US$220 million to support international efforts over the next three years and had contributed to the development fund for projects with a quick and positive impact on the Afghan people.
In addition to financial contributions, he added that Saudi Arabia had taken part in international conferences, such as the high-level meeting to review the question of international assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, in Washington D.C., and the Tokyo Conference on financing reconstruction in Afghanistan. While pleased with the international community’s efforts for the restoration of security, stability and peace and for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, he invited the Afghan people to overcome their differences and take up their responsibility for a better future.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that last year had revealed the importance of the actions undertaken by the United Nations, under the leadership of Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi. Security, stability, drug cultivation and economic reconstruction still remained serious challenges and a source of international concern. At a time when ISAF was making a positive contribution to
the security situation in Kabul, insecurity in most parts of the country continued to threaten the political progress made. The security situation had led to fragmentation of the Afghan economy and encouraged poppy cultivation.
The international community had but one option -- to work tirelessly to ensure the success of the Bonn Agreement, including the establishment of a drafting committee for the new constitution and the holding of general elections. The international community must respect the independence of that country and the principle of non-interference in its domestic affairs, so as not to threaten progress already made. The dangers of foreign interference were well recognized. He welcomed efforts made by the international community, under the auspices of the United Nations, and supported the draft resolution, convinced that all peoples had the right to live in peace and security.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that, in political terms, the establishment of the interim administration, the Loya Jirga and the subsequent appointment of the Transitional Authority represented important milestones. Yet, the key impediment to the implementation of the Bonn Agreement remained the deteriorating security climate. Of particular concern were reports of disturbances along Afghanistan’s southern and south-eastern borders, which could only be attributable to Al Qaeda and Taliban efforts to destabilize the country. The elements received moral and material support from their mentors across the border, which had yet to accept to the loss of influence and power they had once wielded in Afghanistan. However, the intention to sign a declaration of good-neighbourly relations with six neighbours would affirm the principle of non-interference.
A major element of the institutional reform agenda should be the rebuilding of Afghan security structures, he said. In the interest of its sustainability, the new security structures should be established as Afghan institutions, flowing out of intra-Afghan processes aimed at meeting internal and external threats. Furthermore, the task of disarming, demobilizing and rehabilitating former fighters and disbanding local militias should receive attention and sensitivity. To accomplish this and other important tasks, such as broadening the central Government’s authority, preparing the new constitution, building the rule of law and preparing for the 2004 elections, the Government of Afghanistan would require more resources than were currently available.
Another area of concern was the increase in poppy cultivation in the country, he added. The need to eradicate illicit poppy cultivation and break the drug trafficking-terror group nexus had major implications for regional and global security. Reviewing his country’s contributions towards reconstruction in Afghanistan, he stressed that in extending its assistance, India had adhered to the concept of Afghan ownership and prioritization in designing and implementing programmes.
When the Assembly met again this afternoon SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that, with the Bonn Agreement, 23 years of violence and strife had been brought to an end and a road map for the return of Afghanistan to lasting peace and sustainable development had been laid out. Foremost among the achievements of the previous year was the convening of the Loya Jirga and the election of the Transitional Authority. For the Afghan people, the Loya Jirga marked a turning
point, at which they became full participants in their country’s unfolding peace process. It was hoped that all the factions would now work to sustain that process.
He said the restoration of law and order was key to ensuring a stable environment in Afghanistan. Given the fragile and complex nature of the security situation, the international community should accord particular attention to security issues. Furthermore, as the cornerstone of peace and democracy was economic and social development, and Afghanistan’s need was immediate, the efforts of United Nations agencies to expand the capacity of the Transitional Authority were welcomed.
The international community had an important responsibility to expedite assistance for long-term reconstruction programmes, he added. For its part, the Republic of Korea would provide Afghanistan with up to US$45 million, through 2004. Moreover, ongoing multilateral efforts should be underpinned by Afghan efforts to promote law and order, stability and good governance. It was of the utmost importance for Afghan society to be equipped with competent and effective human resources to meet national goals at this crucial stage.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that while the international community and the United Nations had played a crucial role in the transformation of Afghanistan, the Afghan people themselves deserved tribute for the central part they had played in their efforts to rebuild their country. The Loya Jirga had taken place against all odds and the Transitional Administration had been established on schedule.
He urged the international community to continue to support adequately the efforts of the central Afghan Authority to overcome its many nation-building challenges. In that regard, he welcomed the declaration issued in Petersburg on 2 December, which mapped out the remaining tasks to implement the Bonn Agreement, endorsed the creation of the Afghan National Army by the Afghan Transitional Administration and underlined the need to establish clear benchmarks and guidelines towards full accomplishment of the Bonn Agenda.
However, he added, despite the achievements thus far, Afghanistan was still not a post-conflict State, and security concerns remained a top priority. Rebuilding a nation that had hardly been at peace for over two decades was a daunting task. The international community should, therefore, maintain staunch and generous support for Afghanistan, bearing in mind its fragility. Further, the international community should renew and sustain its support for the country’s challenges of peaceful reconstruction, development and the restoration of law and order, and implementing the remaining elements of the Bonn Agenda, including the drafting of a new constitution and organizing of general elections.
He commended the undertaking of Afghan President Karzai to make drug eradication an early priority of his administration. Sustained and due attention must be given to crop substitution programmes that discouraged farmers from returning to poppy cultivation. He said he also supported the central role of the United Nations in the country’s reconstruction process through its assistance mission.
JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the reach and efficiency of the help provided by UNAMA, ranging from emergency response to natural calamities to the rehabilitation of health and education sectors, as well as clearance of unexploded ordnance and demining, was a testimony to the fact that when political will and perseverance to achieve a goal were present, there were no insurmountable difficulties. He said the Transitional Administration of Afghanistan had also
substantially improved the overall security situation, by re-establishing government institutions in major urban centres and its gradual expansion at local level.
However, lack of security remained one of the major obstacles to reconstruction efforts and undermined the authority of the Administration, he said. Peace and security were the essential prerequisites for the creation of an environment that would allow the formation and normal functioning of political and social institutions as the pillars of a stable and prosperous society. The reform process initiated by the Transitional Administration, its commitment to reducing bureaucracy, corruption and inefficiency and legislative acts to promote financial sector stability had brought tangible results, as demonstrated by the increased flow of private investment into the Afghan economy.
Also, noticeable progress had been achieved in socio-economic developments, including increased economic activities in major cities and the re-emergence of women as an active social partner. However, as stressed in the Secretary-General’s report, despite those significant achievements, there were many pressing issues that required urgent action by the international community. One such issue was the humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced persons, he said.
He said that looking back to the tormented history of land-locked Afghanistan, it was easy to see that the root causes of internal conflict in the country had mainly been connected with outside interference. During the 1990s various factions of warlords had been armed and supported from outside, thus deepening the animosity and rift in Afghan society. He warned that the same could happen during the transition period, with advantage being taken of the relative weakness of the central authority in remote areas, unless practical suggestions such as those made during the General Assembly’s open-ended panel discussion were taken into account. They included a more meaningful commitment from neighbouring States to non-interference, and a United Nations mechanism that would facilitate dialogue between Afghanistan and its neighbours on issues of mutual concern and others.
ALTAY CENGIZER (Turkey) said the ISAF had been playing an important role in improving security conditions in and around Kabul. However, the lack of security was still the most serious challenge facing Afghanistan. To maintain security throughout the country, the establishment of a national army and police force was important and efforts to that end should be accelerated. It was also essential that the warlords be integrated in the system, in conformity with the realities of Afghanistan, and their cooperation with the central Government should be provided.
Another important priority, he said, was combating drug production and its illicit trafficking. To do so, the international community should provide support in eliminating illicit poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and assist programmes through crop substitution and capacity building for drug control. The important objectives of reconstruction, the re-establishment of governmental institutions and demobilization required the continued support of the international community.
Foreign aid should be mainly concentrated on reconstruction, and must be done through the central Government. Also, the effective allocation of foreign aid was vital for a useful reconstruction process.
MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said the time had come to provide assistance to Afghanistan and its Government to reconstruct the country and return confidence to its people. It was also the time to think of the future political system of that country, so that it could meet the expectations of its people in bringing sustainable peace and development to the region.
She said the power and authority of the central Government had to be strengthened by providing more autonomy to the provinces -– power which they had possessed for a number of years during the civil war and even earlier. That task was of paramount importance and needed comprehensive evaluation by both the Afghans and the international community.
The creation of an effective national security structure remained the most urgent task. To that end, it was highly commendable that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) played a crucial role in maintaining stability in Kabul by working closely with the Government in building the national army and police force. She added that the expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul would have a great impact on the security situation in the region, since all the elements of the peace process -- political, economic and security -- were inter-linked.
Calling for the international community’s support in the sustainable recovery and reconstruction efforts, she said early implementation of the decisions adopted at the Tokyo conference would contribute to the successful solution of the Afghan problem, and to the eradication of international terrorism. She appealed to the donor community to double their efforts in building Afghan society by translating their pledges into concrete contributions. She said the problem of drug-trafficking was getting more dangerous, and it required an urgent response from the international community. The coordinating role of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) should be strengthened, because drug trafficking constituted a financial basis for international terrorism, threatening the security not only of the Central Asian region, but of the entire world.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that although important progress in Afghanistan had been achieved in the past year, many important tasks remained. Of particular concern was the fragile security situation which, unless stabilized, would continue to threaten the political process and the socio-economic development of the country. This situation showed the need for a national army, civilian police force and well-functioning judicial system, as well as the need to bring factional leaders under control of the central authority. Furthermore, a stable security situation was of crucial importance for the establishment of a democratic culture in Afghanistan and the holding of fair and transparent elections in 2004.
The positive developments within Afghanistan needed to be accompanied by stability outside its borders, he said, and the Afghan Transitional Authority needed to support and facilitate the work of the Constitutional, Judicial and Human Rights Commissions. Moreover, the country still faced major humanitarian problems in that a poor harvest, drought and the return of nearly 2 million refugees and internally displaced had left a large proportion of the population dependent on international assistance. Since it was equally important for donors to contribute to long-term reconstruction and socio-economic development, the National Development Budget was welcomed was a clear reflection of the resolute leadership and focus of the Afghans on reconstruction and job-creating activities. He said the Transitional Authority should be encouraged to integrate women’s issues and a gender perspective into the National Development Budget.
He congratulated the Afghan people and their leaders who were, he said, first and foremost responsible for the positive developments of the past year. However, Afghanistan’s needs were still overwhelming, and a long-term commitment from the international community was crucial. Donors should honor the commitments made in Tokyo. As the chair of the Afghanistan Support Group, Norway would host its annual meeting in Oslo earlier this month.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan), speaking of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan, said his country had so far allocated or disbursed $282 million, in accordance with its pledge made at the Tokyo Conference, thus bringing its total contribution, including humanitarian assistance, to $375 million. However, he added, Afghanistan still confronted enormous challenges. The Transnational Authority needed to strengthen its administrative capacity in order to advance the peace process. He noted that, towards that end, Japan had contributed $50 million, in non-project grant aid, and to improve the equipment of the Kabul TV station.
To make the environment in Afghanistan more secure, he added, Japan was strengthening its contribution by extending assistance to the civilian police and by engaging in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) activities, as well as in demining, and counter-narcotics measures, in close cooperation with United Nations agencies. It planned to accelerate the preparations for the “Register for Peace” programme. Under that programme, ex-combatants would be provided with vocational training and employment opportunities, thus facilitating their reintegration into the community.
He said his Government also commended the Intermediate and Transnational Assistance Programme for Afghanistan, which had enabled millions of refugees and internally displaced persons to return home. As part of the response for comprehensive development in Afghanistan, Japan had launched the “Regional Comprehensive Development Assistance Programme (Ogata Initiative)”, whose overall objective was to strengthen the basic capacity of regional communities. Through that programme, he added, the priority regions of Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif would be provided with assistance for shelter, water, health, education, food, demining and income generation.
Action on Draft
The Assembly adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
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