Press Release

Security Council

4848th Meeting* (PM)



Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno Says Success of Disarmament,

Electoral Registration Dependent on Improvement of Security Conditions

As the final and most important stages of the peace process in Afghanistan moved ahead, many of the fundamental, structural causes of insecurity remained unresolved, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council this afternoon.

Briefing the Council on the situation in Afghanistan, he said the primary source of insecurity remained terrorist attacks and cross-border infiltration by suspected Taliban, Al Qaeda and Hizb-i-Islami insurgents.  All but one border district had been classified as “high risk” by the 15 October United Nations Security Coordinator assessment.  In several border districts, the Taliban had established de facto control over district administration.  Attacks by suspected terrorists against government, military and humanitarian personnel were steadily increasing.  Recent attacks against humanitarian organizations had predominantly targeted national, rather than international personnel.

However, not all incidents should be attributed to the Taliban, as other forces also benefited from instability, including narcotics traffickers, he said.  The trend towards targeting civilian personnel supported the view that the United Nations must also be seen as a target.  Among other security precautions, all United Nations missions were suspended in Nimroz, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces.  Such measures greatly restricted reconstruction and support of political processes, including the ability of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to monitor the Constitutional Loya Jirga registration in the south.

He said the Afghan Government had made some progress in addressing the causes of insecurity.  Reform of the senior level of the Ministry of Defence had been completed, although the majority of Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, seemed to believe that the reform had maintained real power in the hands of the Panjshiris.  The reform marked, however, a step in the right direction to permit the pilot disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme to start in Kunduz on 24 October.  Further reforms were needed in national security ministries andother government ministries, which remained influenced by factional and ethnic interests.

President Hamid Karzai had postponed the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ) until the end of Ramadan, between the end of November and early December, providing the Constitutional Commission more time for finalizing the draft constitution.  Five hundred delegates would participate in the CLJ, of which 344 would be elected on a provincial basis by the district representatives of the 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga.  The rules of procedure for the CLJ elections had been finalized and distributed to all regions, along with the final seat allocation per province.  National advisory committees for special category elections, including women, refugees and internally displaced persons, nomads, Hindus and Sikhs were being established.

The basis for national elections, Mr. Guéhenno continued, would be provided by the adoption of a new Afghan constitution, which would also establish a foundation for the rule of law and determining the form of government.  The structures necessary for those elections -– guidelines for eligibility and the framework for political parties, for example -- were gradually being put in place.

He said the timeline for deployment of registration teams has now been pushed back to 1 December 2003, when deployment would begin in eight regional centres, after which it would be extended to 20 to 25 additional urban sites, subject to security assessments and budgetary limitations.  In the coming days, regional offices of the Afghan Interim Electoral Commission would be established and begin to hire the 800 registrars needed, and the security project to support the registration would continue.

However, the success of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and electoral registration was, he said, dependent on improvement of security conditions.  If held today, those processes would not succeed, as some 60 per cent of the south and some 20 per cent of the south-east was, at any one time, not freely accessible.

In that regard, he said the expansion of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (see Press Release SC/7894 of 13 October) was a welcome and long-needed development, which would, among other things, allow extension of government authority into the provinces.  The decision by Germany to deploy a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Kunduz was a welcome first step.  He hoped it would encourage other countries to consider their contributions.  In addition to the Team concept, a mix of approaches for each region –- such as more robust deployment of ISAF peacekeepers; short-term, rapid reaction deployments; and presence on major highways –- could make major inroads in the security situation.  The Joint Coordination Cell that had been established to improve coordination between the Afghan Government, the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Bonn Coalition would also improve the security situation.

In addition to security, social services and reconstruction were also needed to maintain confidence in the transitional administration.  It was clear that significantly greater resources were required for that purpose, some $6 billion per year, according to the Ministry of Finance.  The recent International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank meeting in Dubai came up short in that respect.

Over the long term, he said, peace and stability in Afghanistan would require national unity, but there were worrying signs –- such as the several meetings held by the so-called “jihadi leadership” -- that the political compact that had allowed the Government to press ahead with the Bonn Agreement might be weakening.  They demonstrate the balance that must be struck between moving the peace process forward and ensuring that major stakeholders remain willing participants.

In conclusion, he said maintaining the forward momentum that had been building in the months since Bonn would require the determination of the Afghan people and the will of the international community.  The expansion of security assistance provided a critical element of that equation.  Its expected benefits must now be realized.

The meeting, which started at 3:10 p.m., was adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

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*     The 4847th Meeting of 23 October was closed.