Afghanistan could return to being a ‘failed State,’ warns Security Council mission chief

Kenzo Oshima

22 November 2006 – Painting a grim picture of increased Taliban violence, growing illegal drug production and fragile State institutions in Afghanistan, the head of last week’s Security Council mission to the strife-torn country warned today it faced becoming a failed State unless the international community fully supports the Afghan recovery effort.

Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima led the 10-member mission from 11-16 November, during which it first held talks with high-level Pakistani Government officials in Islamabad before travelling on to Afghanistan and meeting with President Hamid Karzai and other officials in the capital Kabul, as well as in the north and south.

“Over the course of 2006… and this is a worrying development, the rise in the Taliban-led insurgency and the other social ills, including the upsurge in illegal drug production and trafficking, against the backdrop of still too weak, fragile State and provincial institutions… and the accompanying endemic corruption and impunity,” Mr. Oshima told the Council today.

“At the same time, it is abundantly clear that Afghanistan needs additional and sustained support and assistance from the international community, both for quick gains and for sustained progress over the long term,” he said, warning that “without such support, there is no guarantee that Afghanistan… will not slide back into conflict and a failed State again.”

The Council mission to Afghanistan was the first in three years, the last one being in 2003, and throughout the visit Mr. Oshima stressed the 15-member body’s continued commitment to the country’s recovery, and in particular the importance of the Afghan Compact – a five-year blueprint for reconstruction that was signed in February at a conference in London.

“It is important to stress the two cardinal points: that the commitment of the international community for support of Afghanistan remains firm and sustained; and that the Afghan Compact, owned and led by Afghans, is and will remain the best strategic framework for cooperation between the Afghan Government and the international community.”

A full report on the mission is now being prepared and will then be circulated to all Member States as a UN document ahead of a public meeting on Afghanistan sometime early next month, Mr. Oshima said.

In a related development, the head of the UN’s anti-drug agency has welcomed a decision by the Afghan Counter Narcotics Trust Fund to make development grants to provinces that eliminate the opium poppy, noting that the current six opium-free provinces will each receive $500,000 for development projects.

“Solving Afghanistan’s opium problem is not only a question of security, it’s a question of development. By rewarding the good behaviour of farmers who are committed to making their provinces opium-free, we show the people of Afghanistan that they can have a sustainable future without growing illicit crops,” said Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The grants will be paid through the Good Performers Fund, a programme of the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund, which is supported by the United States and Britain. Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, had a record crop of 6,100 tonnes in 2006.

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