29 September 2009
Security Council
SC/9751

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6194th Meeting (AM)


Decisions on Forming Effective Government in Afghanistan Will Determine Prospects


for Ending Conflict, Top Official Tells Security Council in Briefing


The formation of an effective Afghan Government and the development of its strategies demanded decisions that would determine prospects for ending the intensified conflict in the country, the top United Nations official there told the Security Council this morning.


“Faced with such important decisions, I must emphasize that doing more of the same simply is not an option any more,” said Kai Eide, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).  What needed to be done had been stated before, but never implemented, he added as the Council considered the situation in the country and its implications for international peace and security.


Among the important considerations coming up were the final results of the 20 August presidential elections and their certification, he said.  The composition of the new Government and its agenda for the years ahead would then have to be decided upon, as would matters concerning the launch of a peace and reconciliation process.  In addition, decisions would have to be made concerning the future size and composition of the international and Afghan security forces, and the priorities and allocations of international development assistance.


Regarding the elections, he said that, while it was true that fraud and irregularities had been committed by many parties, and though turnout had been low, it was important to see the positive side, including the fact that the Independent Electoral Commission had done its utmost to provide access to voters in a country torn by conflict and plagued by weak infrastructure, weak institutions and a huge illiterate population faced with 41 candidates.


In addition, he stressed that the campaign had witnessed the strongest-ever public engagement, with strong debate between political alternatives.  Two weeks ago, many had believed that the process was on the verge of collapse, but the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission had worked with experts brought in from abroad to help conduct an audit and ensure that a second round, if required, could be organized before winter set in.


Outlining security and development priorities, he said police and army forces must be greatly increased if they were to take on greater responsibilities and lead operations on their own.  Development efforts should be two-pronged, with “doable” projects in conflict areas and long-term projects in more stable areas.


He supported calls for a new international conference on Afghanistan, but stressed that such a conference should take place in Kabul, if security there persisted.  The conference would aim to garner international support for a new Government programme, but should also formulate in a wider sense the goals of partnership with Afghanistan in the years ahead.


Rangin Dâdfar Spantâ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said the August elections were important milestones in his country’s democratization and state-building process.  “Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully.”  Conceding that there had been electoral irregularities, he maintained that continuing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process would result in worsening the situation.


He said Afghanistan was faced with four categories of challenges and needs: stabilization; humanitarian; reconstruction; and developmental.  Only by pursuing a long-term and comprehensive strategy could the fragile achievements after 2001 be consolidated.  He welcomed the proposed convening of an international conference, saying Afghanistan would be pleased to host it in Kabul.


In meeting future challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning State was absolutely essential, but it was a “reductionist view” to reduce all problems to that one issue, he said.  Terrorists were motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatical mindset and ideological ends.  Other important issues included reintegration of illegal fighters into civilian life and regional cooperation.  In addressing those issues, the United Nations must play a leading role and UNAMA was well placed to enhance coordination between the Government and its international partners.


The representative of the Russian Federation said that, while he supported the goal of national reconciliation, the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida was not only a national one, but also an international one.  Reconciliation should not contravene the Council’s sanctions regime against the two groups, and the Russian Federation was against removing some of the names on the sanctions list.


There was also a need to include more drug traffickers on the Council’s sanctions lists, the more so because narcotics were a main source of financing for the Taliban, he said, cautioning that, despite positive developments in the campaign against the narcotics trade, it was premature to speak of success against narcotics trafficking.  In combating the cultivation of narcotics, it was insufficient to apply economic measures.  New non-violent measures were necessary to eliminate the drug infrastructure.


In the ensuing discussion, most speakers welcomed the dedication of Afghans to participating in the elections, but called for a rapid and thorough investigation into incidents of fraud.  They also urged a strengthening of the new Government, so it would be able to take the lead in reconciliation and development.  Most delegates also welcomed international assistance in the security sector, as well as the renewed focus on protecting civilians, while emphasizing that development was just as important as military aspects.


Libya’s representative, however, maintained that the civilian toll had only increased with the build-up of international troops, and the deaths caused by those forces were particularly grievous, because they were preventable.  Objecting to that description as “unhelpful”, while regretting all loss of civilian lives, the representative of the United States emphasized that international troops made great efforts to avoid civilian deaths and that most deaths occurred at the hands of the insurgents.


Also addressing the Council today was Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey.


Other speakers were the representatives of Japan, Viet Nam, Croatia, Austria, Burkina Faso, United Kingdom, Mexico, France, China, Costa Rica and Uganda.


The meeting began at 10:30 a.m. and ended at 12:50 a.m.


Background


The Security Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document A/64/364-S/2009/475), which reviews the activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) since the Secretary-General’s report of 23 June (document A/73/892-S/2009/323).


According to the report, the results of the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections have not been certified yet, but the Independent Election Commission’s success in opening, equipping and staffing thousands of polling centres was an achievement in itself, since it was the first time it had run elections entirely on its own, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  However, voting was unquestionably marred by irregularities, and a campaign of intimidation by the Taliban stifled voter turnout, particularly in the south.


The level of alleged electoral irregularities has generated significant political turbulence, the report says, noting that the Independent Election Commission began issuing uncertified partial preliminary results as 25 August.  The Electoral Complaints Commission ordered the Independent Election Commission to conduct an audit and a recount at numerous polling stations.  It is important to allow time and space for those processes to work according to the law.  The election results cannot be certified by the Independent Election Commission until all complaints have been adjudicated by the Electoral Complaints Commission.


Insecurity will continue to be a challenge and countering it will remain a priority for the new Government, the report states.  Increasing the number of national and international security forces has failed over the past few years, and the recently appointed Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has begun to implement a new approach that ranks protecting the Afghan population as the highest priority.  Human rights issues, in particular those of women, remain high on the agenda of concerns.  Every presidential candidate referred to the need for a reconciliation process to end the insurgency.  For the level and shape of such a process to be determined, establishing a coherent national strategy must be a priority of the new Government.


The Secretary-General observers that when the electoral process is completed, it will be of critical importance for the results to be accepted by all so that the election of Afghanistan’s future President can be certified and a new Government formed.  There must also be a decisive shift in relations between the Government and the international community.  The Government must be determined to assume all the responsibilities of a sovereign State, and the international community must play a clear supporting role that.  A new “contract” between the Government and its people will be a critical component in that shift.  The level of trust that a future Government can build with its people will have an impact on the level of support that Governments of donor and troop-contributing countries receive from their constituencies.


According to the report, the new Government should demonstrate its determination and ability to address the main concerns of its people, including security, the rule of law and the need for sustainable economic and social development.  The new Government will have to include a comprehensive agenda to build institutions and establish an agenda for sustainable economic growth based increasingly on Afghanistan’s own resources.  The fight against corruption and the culture of impunity must be key components in that effort.


The Secretary-General observes that, over the past few months, donor coordination has improved and there is a greater readiness to unite behind well-formulated national programmes.  However, much remains to be done to bring the Government and the international community together around a clear, priority-based strategy.  UNAMA will do its utmost to fulfil its mandate in that regard, but will need greater resources and specialized personnel, which Member States are urged to provide.


Briefings


KAI EIDE, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, said that critical decisions on the country’s new Government and strategies made over the next few weeks would determine its prospects for ending a conflict that had become more intense over the last months.  “Faced with such important decisions, I must emphasize that doing more of the same simply is not an option any more,” he said, noting that what must be done had been stated before, but not implemented.


Among the important upcoming considerations were the final election results and the certification of the 20 August presidential election, he said.  The composition of the new Government and its agenda for the years ahead must then be decided, alongside the way in which a peace and reconciliation process would be launched.  Decisions would also have to be made on the future size and composition of the international and Afghan security forces, and on the priorities and allocations of international development assistance.


Noting that there had been fraud and irregularities by many parties in the elections, in addition to a low turnout, he said it was nevertheless important to see the positive side, including the fact that the Independent Electoral Commission had done its utmost to provide access to voters in a country plagued by conflict, weak infrastructure, weak institutions and a huge illiterate population faced with 41 candidates.  The campaign had witnessed the strongest ever public engagement, with strong debate between political alternatives.  Two weeks ago, many had believed the process to be on the verge of collapse, but the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission had worked with experts brought in from abroad to help conduct an audit and ensure that a second round of voting, if required, could be organized before winter set in.


The challenge for the Electoral Complaints Commission would be to find and reject fraudulent ballots while at the same time avoiding the disenfranchisement of legitimate voters unaccustomed to voting, he said, adding that the final outcome must be respected by the candidates and their supporters.  Most Afghans wished to see the election process end, a Government formed and their lives improved.  The challenge for the new Government would be to keep illegitimate power brokers from hindering efforts to build a coherent Afghanistan and giving insurgents opportunities to exploit.  The Government must focus on improving governance in all areas.


Conditions governing international assistance to Afghanistan were already in place, although following the assessment by General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, important decisions would have to be made, he said, noting that there was agreement on the need to improve the strength and capacity of the Afghan army and police.  For the army to take greater responsibility and conduct independent operations, the number of trained troops would have to greatly surpass the 134,000 expected by October, even though that goal would be some three years ahead of schedule.  Police strength must also be increased and the heavy attrition rate drastically reduced through better training, equipment and incentives.  That effort could not be undertaken by the United States alone, and other countries should step up.


On the civilian side, he said urgent priority must be given to providing sorely needed education to civil servants, building subnational infrastructure, creating communication links and strengthening incentives, including awards for merit.  Priority must also be given to sustainable, economic development leading to self-sufficiency and the establishment of doable projects in conflict areas and long-term projects centred around growth engines in stable parts of the country.  He said he had already presented United Nations and Government proposals for a railroad and electricity grid that would employ thousands, and an Afghan vision for a more streamlined Government structure centred around three main clusters.


With regard to reconciliation, he stressed that the international community must play a supporting role, but the main responsibility must rest with those who understood the society -– the Afghans themselves –- because the matters involved were too complex, including the question of whether or not there were Taliban elements with which negotiations could be conducted.  Supporting calls for a new international conference on Afghanistan, he said it should take place in Kabul, if security there persisted.  The conference would aim to garner international support for a new Government programme, but should also formulate in a wider sense the goals of the partnership with Afghanistan in the years ahead.


He said good news that had not received wide attention included the 22 per cent decrease in acreage under opium cultivation this year, the presidential amnesty accorded a student previously sentenced to death for downloading material on the interpretation of the Koran, and the vaccination of 1.2 million children against polio, with only 3 per cent of the target group not reachable.  A set of benchmarks required by Security Council resolution 1888 (2009) had been formulated following a debate in Kabul and would be further refined.  The United Nations had expanded its efforts, particularly in the area of coordinating political and development issues.  However, stronger coordination was still needed, and more resources for work in development and governance, particularly specialized personnel, had been requested.


RANGIN DÂDFAR SPANTÂ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said the August elections were important milestones in democratization and State-building.  It was a multifaceted undertaking, involving the Afghan national security forces, the Independent Election Commission, the Electoral Complaints Commission, local media, United Nations agencies, Afghan civil society and the political community, ISAF and the voters.  Al-Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups had done their utmost to disrupt the elections.  “Taking into account the socio-historic realities of Afghanistan, we passed this national test successfully,” he said.  There had been irregularities, but continuing delegitimizing efforts to undermine the integrity of the process would certainly result in worsening the situation.


He said Afghanistan was faced with four categories of challenges and needs: stabilization; humanitarian; reconstruction; and developmental.  Only by pursuing a long-term, comprehensive strategy could the fragile achievements made and institutions established since 2001 be consolidated.  Short-term, compartmentalized and partial solutions were doomed to fail.  Implementing a comprehensive strategy required a clearer division of responsibility between Afghanistan and the international community.  The former must shoulder the main responsibility for creating a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic Afghanistan, while sustained and substantial support from the international community would be crucial in enabling the country to fulfil its national priorities.


Welcoming the proposal to convene an international conference on the situation in Afghanistan in Kabul, he said it would be an important forum for identifying effective ways to implement the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.  As for short- and long-term needs and challenges, the presence of an accountable and functioning State was absolutely essential.  However, it was a “reductionist view” to relate all problems to one issue.  Terrorists were motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatical mindset and ideological ends.  Afghanistan often lacked the basic and necessary tools of governance, but rather than bashing and delegitimizing young State institutions, one must invest in them.


The reintegration of illegal fighters into civilian life was another important issue, he said.  The Government had resorted to all means in encouraging those Afghans who had taken up arms to participate in reconstruction.  As long as the Taliban leadership and other terrorist groups remained protected by external entities, the goal of dismantling the dynamic of insecurity would not be achieved.  Reintegration efforts must focus on the leadership and non-ideological fighters.  Another important issue was regional cooperation, one of Afghanistan’s pillars for foreign, security and development policy.  Many of the country’s challenges were regional in nature and consequence, particularly terrorism and drug trafficking.  Only within a cooperative regional environment could the interrelated challenges be collectively addressed.


Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan were of the utmost importance and there had been a cooperative atmosphere between the Government and the new civilian Government in Pakistan in recent months, he said.  Hopefully that cooperative atmosphere could be extended to other entities in the neighbouring country Pakistan.  To that end, the international community must ensure that only good behaviour was rewarded.  The United Nations must play a leading role in addressing all those issues.  UNAMA was well placed to communicate and bridge the mutual needs and expectations between Afghanistan and its international partners.  Enhancing coordination among and between different stakeholders was another important role for the Mission.


Statements


AHMET DAVUTOĞLU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said the Afghan people deserved recognition for their tireless endeavours and commitment to democracy.  The immense challenges required the attention of the Government in Kabul, and winning hearts and minds was most important.  As the lead Council member on Afghanistan in 2010, Turkey intended to build on the positive momentum created by Japan.  Currently it was implementing the most comprehensive assistance programme in its history to the “brotherly people” of Afghanistan.


He said a four-pronged approach was necessary in Afghanistan.  It required the Government and the international community to initiate a robust campaign for a massive and refocused economic reconstruction plan; create an effective and self-sufficient Afghan military and police at a faster pace; encourage an inclusive, Government-led national reconciliation process; and create a proper environment for democracy and development through modern education.  The benchmarks cited in the Secretary-General’s report contained the five most important aspects of the comprehensive strategy that Turkey had always emphasized: security; good governance; social and economic development; human rights; and the fight against narcotics.


YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan), stressing the difficulty of creating benchmarks for such a complex mission, acknowledged that they helped track progress in a country on which the international community was now focusing.  While congratulating Afghanistan for voting in historic, unprecedented elections and under extremely intimidating circumstances, he said all parties concerned should trust and accept the joint efforts of the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission to provide certified election results soon.  Japan called on them to mend the political rifts that had emerged during the electoral process and help promote more inclusive political will within the new Government.


Regarding a post-election strategy for the war-torn country, he reiterated Japan’s continuing commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and reconstruction, adding that the next six months would be critical in defining its future.  He urged the incoming Government to demonstrate its determination to address such challenges as good governance in order to gain trust nationally and internationally.  In that regard, the proposed international conference would provide a valuable opportunity for both the international community and the Government to confirm their commitments.


On the insurgency, he said an Afghan-led reintegration and reconciliation process was crucial, adding that it was also important to reach out politically to those who had committed to living peacefully within the terms of the Constitution.  Given its experience in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as the disarmament of illegal armed groups, Japan would participate in those activities and provide training.  It was essential that donors ensure a more focused and coordinated approach to effective assistance.  In that regard, Japan supported the Special Representative’s efforts to prioritize and coordinate areas of assistance, and would focus specifically on agriculture, rural development and infrastructure.


Security was the biggest challenge and formed the basis of all those efforts, he said.  While commending countries that had sent troops to Afghanistan, as well as the work of national forces in recent months, he said a great deal more must be done to bolster local capacity.  Japan would continue to explore ways to help improve national security measures.  The invaluable role of the United Nations had been affirmed both nationally and internationally, and Japan commended the courageous efforts of the Organization’s staff to fulfil their mandate while expressing its support for bolstering UNAMA in the coming months.


LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam), welcoming the holding of elections on 20 August, said that despite many reported irregularities, the poll had shown the Afghan people’s strong aspiration for peace and stability.  Viet Nam respected their choice and hoped the results would lay a sound foundation for political stability.  Hopefully the lessons learnt from the elections would be useful in planning parliamentary polls in 2010.


In light of the present delicate situation, he urged all parties concerned to cooperate constructively, with a view to establishing a strong Government capable of moving the country forward.  Insecurity remained the biggest challenge, and the deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country had hampered not only the elections, but also efforts to consolidate institution-building and governance, and to improve living conditions.  Most current infrastructure building projects were confined to the centre and were unable to reach remote localities.


He said benchmarks and indicators would provide a good basis for determining priorities, measuring progress and making necessary adjustments.  Priority should be accorded to protecting civilians and improving living conditions.  The long-term commitment of international donors was still of great importance, and Viet Nam supported the convening of an early international conference to reassess Afghanistan’s assistance needs in the post-election period.  However, the Administration and people must be able to play a decisive role.  The Government must be enabled to assume all the responsibilities of a sovereign State.  International support and assistance must be geared towards achieving that objective.


RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) welcomed the holding of elections and congratulated the Afghan people for participating despite the risks involved.  He welcomed also the electoral safeguards and investigation of irregularities, expressing hope that the process would allow a rapid certification of the results.  However, the mounting violence and civilian casualties were a matter of concern.


The new measures undertaken by international forces to protect civilians were welcome, as was the strengthening of Afghan forces.  However, military means were not sufficient to bring about peace, he said, expressing hope for an effective political policy of reconciliation.  The degree of trust that the Afghan people had in their Government would determine the level of international engagement with that Government.  Given the enormity of the tasks ahead, Croatia supported an increase of resources for UNAMA in any case.


THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria), describing the holding of the recent elections as a great achievement, said the fact that millions of Afghans had chosen to vote despite intimidation by insurgents and the difficult security situation was impressive and encouraging.  However, the serious fraud that had marred the voting was of great concern and all such incidents must be addressed in order to ensure the credibility of the electoral process.  The Electoral Complaints Commission had the final authority to resolve allegations of fraud and irregularities.  Once the electoral process was completed, it would be important for the new President to be certified promptly so he could form a competent, inclusive Government, capable of tackling the many challenges ahead.  Good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights should be high on the agenda and form the basis for its work.


The lessons learned from the election process should guide preparations for the 2010 parliamentary elections, he said.  In that context, the recommendations of the European Union observation mission would be useful, as would the findings of experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Improving security was a big challenge.  The rise in incidents involving improvised explosive devices and complex attacks by insurgents on civilians and humanitarian personnel were worrying and must be ended.  Intimidation or violence against humanitarian workers was totally unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account.  Minimizing the alarming toll of civilian casualties must be a leading objective.  It was to be hoped that the new law on eliminating violence against women, adopted in July, would take precedence over the Shia Personal Status Law, which was not in compliance with international human rights standards and Afghanistan’s international commitments.


PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) welcomed the holding of the presidential and provincial elections of 20 August in which the people of Afghanistan had been able to determine their own fate.  Organizing elections had been a challenge in itself and the difficulties encountered showed the need for national reconciliation.  Hopefully the audit and recount process would be done in a credible manner, so that the final results could be accepted by all.


Noting that the new Government would be facing numerous challenges, he called on the international community to enhance its support for Afghanistan.  As for socio-economic development, the continuing trend of donors emphasizing their own particular preferences underlined the Government’s dependence on the international community.  There should be a common strategy for sustainable development under the ownership of the national Government.


He said he hoped the fight against opium production and corruption would continue.  Among the prerequisites for progress were strengthening State institutions, extending State authority throughout the country and generating the political will to achieve those goals.  However, none of those objectives would be met if insecurity persisted.  Burkina Faso therefore supported an effective police force and army.


PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) said it was important to continue regular and frank discussions on the situation in Afghanistan.  When meeting in June, the Council had underlined the significance of the August elections, which must be credible, inclusive and secure.  Holding Afghanistan’s first electoral process in 30 years had been an important step.  The audits and recounts should run their course and the outcome of their work should be credible and reflect the will of the people.  Regardless of who won, the crucial next step was forming the next Government.  Building a legitimate economy and fighting corruption would be a key challenge, and the focus should be on building capacity.


Expressing support for convening a post-electoral conference in Kabul, he said that, since the United Nations and UNAMA would be at the heart of international support, their ability to lead and coordinate the international effort was crucial.  In that regard, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s benchmarks and hoped they would continue to evolve as it would be important to measure accurately the progress of the Mission and international efforts.  The United Kingdom also supported UNAMA’s plans to establish a more extensive presence in the country.  The United Kingdom deeply regretted any civilian casualties, as protecting the Afghan population was at the core of the international mission, in stark contrast to the Taliban and other groups.


IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) commended UNAMA for its efforts to rebuild Afghanistan despite the challenges.  The situation remained insecure, with many civilians dying at the hands of both international forces and the Taliban.  Each side had its own justifications, but any killing of civilians was deeply regrettable, particularly by international forces, which had the ability to avoid such damage.


He said the build-up of international forces had occurred because of an emphasis on military solutions, which had led to a situation that the Special Representative had described as the worst since 2002.  The build-up of forces and the occasional atrocities they caused only strengthened the hand of the insurgency.  The attempt to eliminate the Taliban and the use of force would not lead to stability.  Instead, Libya advocated dialogue among all those who wanted peace.


He noted that the Secretary-General’s s report contained no new assessment of current conditions in Afghan detention centres, and asked Special Representative Eide for a report on that situation.


CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) expressed concern over the lack of clarity in the election process amid reports of violence and intimidation.  Mexico trusted that the Electoral Complaints Commission would investigate all such incidents and that the result would be an election that improved cohesion, and a Government that could shoulder the responsibilities of a sovereign State.  It was also crucial that countries in the region support the development of a stronger Afghanistan.


Describing lack of security as a key factor inhibiting progress, he condemned attacks on the population, saying the root causes of violence must be tackled, and the highest priority accorded to the protection of the Afghan population.  He welcomed progress in fighting drug production and encouraging national dialogue, which hopefully would lead to long-term strategic planning.  Mexico also welcomed the signing of the law prohibiting violence against women.


GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said his country was strongly committed to Afghanistan, with more than 3,000 troops deployed there, and would continue its commitment as long as necessary.  On 20 August, Afghan voters had gone to polling stations to elect their President.  A number of irregularities had been noted, but the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission must be allowed to work in transparency and calm.  Procedures must be fulfilled to ensure that the wishes of the Afghan people were respected.  The formation of a Government in which national consensus could flourish would be desirable.


He said that his country, together with Germany and the United Kingdom, had taken the initiative to propose the convening of a new international conference on Afghanistan with the aim of establishing a new framework for relations between Afghanistan and the international community, which should see the country take ownership of its own fate.  That would require from Afghanistan more resolved and effective actions, including better local government, capacity-building, a stepped up fight against corruption, a re-launch of the national reconciliation process and stepped-up reintegration of ex-fighters into society.


LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said the holding of the elections would have an important impact on the peace process in Afghanistan.  Maintaining stability was the focus of the work in Afghanistan, and it was to be hoped that the Afghan army and police would continue to be strengthened so they could contribute to stability while protecting the people and their property.


He said Afghanistan had achieved some progress.  Narcotics cultivation had been reduced significantly and the international community should continue to increase inputs in the areas of reconstruction, agriculture, education, health and promotion of the development of Afghan society in order to reduce destabilizing factors.  As a neighbouring country, China would continue to provide assistance, participate actively in its reconstruction and work in helping Afghanistan achieve lasting peace and stability.


CHRISTIAN GUILLERMET ( Costa Rica) said he recognized the challenges and accomplishments of the presidential election, but urged a rapid and legitimate conclusion to the process lest allegations of irregularities increase instability.  The international community must remain committed to the process, and it was to be hoped that the experience would be used to ensure improvements in the conduct of upcoming parliamentary elections.


He deplored continued acts of violence against women, while welcoming the passage of a law to prevent it.  However, a second law applicable to Shiite women was a matter of concern, and the authorities should abide by constitutional and international agreements.  All parties must comply with international law to ensure the protection of the civilian population.  Costa Rica welcomed the new focus on protecting civilians, but remained concerned by the rise in attacks against civilians and humanitarian personnel.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) commended the central role that UNAMA continued to play and welcomed the conduct of the elections, despite the irregularities of the process.  There was a need for restraint while allegations were investigated and the outcome was awaited.  It was also important to ensure long-term commitment from the international community and countries of the region in support of the Afghan State and Government.


Much remained to be done in the areas of reconstruction and development, and the Afghan Government must establish the key institutions of Government for those purposes, he said.  Uganda called on the international community to increase its support for the Government, and to increase the availability of specialized personnel to fill UNAMA’s needs.


VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), noting that the holding of presidential and local elections had been the main event of the reporting period, said he hoped the recount would be concluded rapidly and that a new Government would be established as soon as possible.  The fact that the elections had been held despite intimidation confirmed the will of the Afghan people to have a democratic State.  With the security situation deteriorating and the number of incidents and terrorist activities growing, continuing civilian deaths resulting from ISAF operations were a matter of concern.


He said that although he backed the goal of national reconciliation, the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida was not only a national one, but also one taking place at the international level.  Reconciliation should not contravene the Council’s sanctions regime against the Taliban and Al-Qaida, and the Russian Federation was against removing some of the names on the sanctions list.


Despite some positive developments in the campaign against the narcotics trade, it was premature to speak of success against narcotics trafficking, he cautioned.  In combating the cultivation of narcotics, it was insufficient to apply economic measures.  New non-violent measures were necessary to eliminate the drug infrastructure.  There was also a need to include more drug traffickers on the Council’s sanctions lists, the more so because narcotics were a main source of financing for the Taliban.  There was also a need to harness the potential of regional institutions.


Council President ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States), speaking in her national capacity, said her country continued its strong support for UNAMA’s efforts to achieve its mandate.  The ongoing electoral process had not been easy, but all parties were encouraged to respect the institutions that had conducted the polls.  The international community must support the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission in adjudicating allegations of fraud, and preparations for the 2010 parliamentary elections must begin as soon as possible.


She said UNAMA not only played a role in elections, it was also indispensable as coordinator for international assistance to Afghanistan.  The Mission’s progress in expanding its presence throughout Afghanistan was welcome and would allow for better monitoring and coordination of aid programmes.  UNAMA’s budget should be increased for that purpose.  The United States also welcomed the development of benchmarks to identify key areas on which UNAMA, the Government and the international community must focus their efforts.


United States and ISAF troops continued to make great efforts to avoid civilian casualties, she said.  Those efforts put the Afghan people at the centre and reflected the reality that the majority of deaths had been caused by groups that disregarded the value of civilian life.  When casualties occurred, the United States provided assistance and participated in joint investigations into incidents.  In conclusion, she rejected “unhelpful” points made by the representative of Libya.


Mr. EIDE, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said in responding to comments that UNAMA hoped to open four more offices in the next few months, but further expansion depended on resources accorded to the Mission.  He welcomed General McChrystal’s efforts to protect civilians and reduce casualties, which had been bearing fruit in recent weeks.


Responding to Libya’s question about the situation in detention centres, he said the new facilities under construction in Bagram were a “tremendous” step in the right direction, even though Afghan facilities remained miserable, owing to a lack of resources, which also hindered the development of the justice system.


He concluded by emphasizing the strong agreement among international partners on most issues and their good working relationship.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record