AFGHANISTAN, ONE OF UN'S GREATEST CHALLENGES, AT 'MOST URGENT STAGE', SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING

13 November 2001
SC/7210

AFGHANISTAN, ONE OF UN'S GREATEST CHALLENGES, AT 'MOST URGENT STAGE', SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING

13/11/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7210

Security Council

4414th Meeting (AM & PM)

AFGHANISTAN, ONE OF UN'S GREATEST CHALLENGES, AT 'MOST URGENT STAGE',

SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING

Special Representative Outlines Plans for Political Transition;

Thirty-eight Speakers Stress UN Involvement, Broad-based Future Government

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that Afghanistan was one of the United Nations’ greatest challenges and that challenge was now at its “most urgent stage”, during a day-long Security Council meeting on that country.

Speaking prior to a briefing of the Council by his Special Representative on Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General stressed that the objective must be a stable, peaceful Afghanistan that carried out its international obligations and posed no threat to any of its neighbours. Any future arrangements, then, must reflect the will, needs and interests of the Afghan people, which required the end of interference in Afghanistan's affairs by neighbouring countries.  Until that happened -- in reality, rather than just rhetoric -- there could be little hope of lasting stability.

Mr. Brahimi, addressing the Council in a session that also heard statements from 38 other speakers, including 21 Foreign Ministers, said world leaders had indicated that this time the international community would have the will and staying power to help Afghans reconstruct their country, which would require significant financial and technical commitments.  The Afghans had suffered much.  They had refused interference, yet called for help.  They expected assistance, but feared that the United Nations would not deliver.

Based on ideas discussed by Afghans, there was a potential approach to the crisis, he continued.  First, the United Nations could convene a meeting with the representatives of the Northern Alliance and other groups, in order to ensure fair representation in a process leading to an agreement on a framework for political representation.  The second stage would prescribe concrete steps, to be followed by a comprehensive group that was all Afghan.  The other steps would include proposing a provisional administration; approval for a transitional administration; and the convening of a second loya jurga to approve the administration and government of Afghanistan.

In the ensuing debate, many speakers supported the idea of a broad-based, all-inclusive government and the involvement of the United Nations in the processes leading up to its establishment.  Highlighting the humanitarian crisis, speakers called for speedy responses in light of the approaching Afghan winter, and the

millions who were without food or shelter.  Widespread support was expressed for

Mr. Brahimi’s report, his insights on the situation on the ground and his recommendations.

The representative of Afghanistan said it was understandable that Pakistan desired to see a neighbouring Power that was not hostile to its legitimate interests, but no country had the right to exercise a veto over the self-determination of the Afghan people.  The same applied to other neighbouring States. Today, the Afghan people were paying a high price for foreign intervention and the war against terrorism.  They needed the national unity that had always emerged in exceptional circumstances regardless of ethnic, linguistic or other differences.

Events in Afghanistan would not wait for the international community, the representative of the United States said.  The international community must support the efforts of Mr. Brahimi to quickly bring together Afghans to form an interim authority for liberated areas, and an authority that was representative, of and acceptable to, Afghans.  The international community must also call for restraint on the part of the Afghan liberation forces.  The country did not need another cycle of revenge and retribution, as the Taliban collapsed.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister said an interim government had to be instituted urgently, as the situation was emerging faster than expected.  To ensure stability, the post-Taliban government must be home-grown, representative and committed to the United Nations resolutions.  Unless the Organization was able to put together a political dispensation that was representative of the country, conflict and turmoil would continue.

Iran's Foreign Minister said a post-Taliban government was expected to:  commit itself to international law; maintain peaceful and friendly relations with its neighbours; prevent the use of its soil for subversive, destabilizing and terrorist activities; and ban production, trade and trafficking in narcotic drugs.  The Council should adopt a resolution enumerating the principles of a post-Taliban government, defining the presence and monitoring role of the United Nations during a transitional period.

Statements were also made by the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Singapore, Norway, Mauritius, Mali, Ireland, Colombia, China, Bangladesh, France, Jamaica, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Chile.

The representatives of Tunisia, Russian Federation, Germany, Canada, Japan, India, Egypt, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, and Argentina also spoke.

The meeting, which began at 10:49 a.m., was suspended at 1:23 p.m., resumed at 3:45 p.m. and adjourned at 7 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to that country, Lakhdar Brahimi.

On 3 October 2001, the Secretary-General reappointed Mr. Brahimi as his Special Representative.  He previously served as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan from July 1997 until October 1999, when his activities were "frozen" until such time as circumstances changed to justify his renewed engagement.  In his letter to the Council on the reappointment, the Secretary-General stressed that the time had come for Ambassador Brahimi to resume his role.

Mr. Brahimi is entrusted with overall authority for the humanitarian, human rights and political endeavours of the United Nations in Afghanistan.  The Special Representative will also initiate preparations for the transition to the post-conflict peace-building phase, through the development of plans for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of that country.  He will oversee the activities of, and will be supported by:  the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA); and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Update on Afghanistan

On 12 November, following a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Secretary-General, representatives of six countries neighbouring Afghanistan, as well as the United States and the Russian Federation, agreed on the need to establish a broad-based and freely chosen Afghan Government.

In a joint declaration issued after the meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United States and the Russian Federation –- collectively known as the “six plus two” group –- “pledged their continued support to efforts of the Afghan people to find a political solution to the Afghan crisis, and agreed that there should be the establishment in Afghanistan of a broad-based, multi-ethnic, politically balanced, freely chosen Afghan administration representative of their aspirations and at peace with its neighbours.

The declaration, signed by ministers and other senior officials, “condemned the export of international terrorism by the Al Qaeda network and the ruling Taliban authorities for allowing the continued use of Afghan territory for terrorist activities”.  It expressed support for efforts by the Afghan people to rid themselves of the Taliban regime, as well as international efforts to root out terrorism and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Welcoming the “central” role of the United Nations in assisting the Afghan people in developing a politic alternative to the Taliban regime, the declaration endorsed the work by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, particularly efforts to help Afghan groups urgently establish a broad-based administration.  Concerning the relief operations, the members of the “six plus two” pledged continued support for the United Nation continuing humanitarian efforts both inside Afghanistan and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.  They urged additional contributions from donor countries and welcomed efforts by the international community to begin planning for Afghanistan’s long-term reconstruction once a broad-based government has assumed office and peace has been restored.

The Council was last briefed by Under-Secretary-General Kenzo Oshima on the situation in and around Afghanistan, including the humanitarian situation earlier this month.  In that briefing Mr. Oshima informed the Council about his recent visit to the Central Asian region and advised that delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance continued despite difficult circumstances.  He also advised of the plans being put in place to ensure that relief supplies are delivered in anticipation of the coming winter.

Statement by Secretary-General

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, described Afghanistan as one of the Organization's greatest challenges and one that was now perhaps at its most urgent stage.  The sustained engagement of the Security Council would be needed to help set the country on the path to a stable and lasting peace, and to address the dire humanitarian needs of its people.

Noting the long history of United Nations involvement in addressing the plight of the Afghan people, he said the terrorist attacks of 11 September, and the consequent military action in Afghanistan, had created a new environment.  It presented daunting challenges to the international community, but also new opportunities.

First and foremost, he said, was the necessity to meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, who had suffered from decades of conflict, repression, drought and famine.  Winter was closing in, and as many of the vulnerable as possible must be clothed and sheltered.  Also, the rapid march of events on the ground required a focus on the post-Taliban period.  That meant taking urgent action to avoid a political and security vacuum, and giving priority to ensuring a climate of stability that could create the conditions for a lasting peace.

He noted that Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative for Afghanistan, had just returned from visiting Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  With the Council's support, Mr. Brahimi would be able to make progress in his intensive efforts to facilitate transitional arrangements that would lay the foundations for a peaceful and stable Afghan State.

A stable, peaceful Afghanistan, carrying out its international obligations and posing no threat to any of its neighbours, must be the common objective, he stressed.  To achieve it, any arrangement arrived at must reflect the will, needs and interests of the Afghan people and enjoy their full support.  That required the end of interference in Afghanistan's affairs by neighbouring countries.  Until that happened -- in reality rather than just rhetoric -- there could be little hope of lasting stability.

Drawing attention to the immediate needs of 6 million Afghans affected by the conflict and natural disaster, he said that over the past two weeks United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations had geared up cross-border delivery and distribution of food and non-food assistance.  For the first time since 11 September, the weekly targets had been reached or even exceeded.

He cautioned, however, that many areas still remained inaccessible, particularly in the north.  Those areas were also among the most vulnerable.  To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months, every effort must be made to overcome the logistical challenges in, for example, reaching areas cut off by snow.  Assistance efforts must be based on one principle only -- to help those most in need.

Statement by Special Representative

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said the

11 September attacks on the United States reminded the world of a certain reality -- collapsed and destitute States provided fertile ground for armed groups to plan terror in the world.  During his recent visit to Pakistan and Iran, he had spoken with a wide range of Afghan groups, including women and children.  Those conversations reconfirmed the urgency of finding viable and durable solutions to Afghanistan’s problems.

Afghans, he continued, had categorically condemned the 11 September attacks and the fact that Afghanistan was being used as a staging ground for terrorism.  They were united in the belief that only a legitimate Afghan Government representing the aspirations of all the people of Afghanistan could free the country from the grips of international terrorist groups.  They all welcomed the current global focus on their country and hoped the international community would remain engaged in finding a lasting solution to the current crisis.

Mr. Brahimi stressed that both Iran and Pakistan had a special role to play in Afghanistan.  Based on their geography and history, both countries had a legitimate interest in the emergence of a stable neighbour.  The Iranian and Pakistani Governments had both expressed a clear commitment to finding a political solution to Afghanistan’s problem that would preserve both the political and territorial integrity of that country.  Presidents Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Seyed Mohammad Katami of Iran had assured him in no uncertain terms that they would like the United Nations to pay a pivotal role in finding a solution to Afghanistan’s problems, while stressing that outsiders should not impose their view on the country.

He said a home-grown solution to Afghanistan that was aided by the international community would be credible and politically sound.  It would also prevent the country from being used again as a breeding ground for terrorists.  He said Afghanistan’s neigbours alone could not help rebuild the country.  The international community had to make massive financial and political commitments for multilateral coordination and administration in Afghanistan.  The rich pool of skilled Afghans must also be used in the reorganization of Afghanistan.  He shared the view that that the Group of 21 should also be reactivated and that the “six-plus-two” group and other groups should develop a constructive position on the country.

He said there were rapid changes on the ground in Afghanistan, especially last night and this morning, with the Northern Alliance expanding its reach and entering Kabul. The Secretary-General had instructed him to send a message to Francesc Vendrell authorizing him to go to Kabul immediately, security conditions permitting. The Secretary-General had also asked that a security assessment be made as soon as possible, in order to ascertain whether international staff could be allowed to return to Afghanistan.

He said that, in the long-term, the fundamentals would not change and the strategic objectives remained the same -– to help the people of Afghanistan to establish a stable, representative and accountable government with both internal and external legitimacy that was on friendly terms with all its neigbours.  Another objective was to ensure that the country was not ever used again as a staging ground for terrorism and drug trafficking.

The Special Representative said that there was agreement among the Afghan parties on the goal of creating a broad-based government.  The stumbling block was securing agreements among those parties on designing concrete steps to achieve those goals.  Solutions must be carefully put together.  They must be home-grown, enjoy the participation of all the internal players and not be subject to any external interference.

He said discussions in Rome with the former Afghan King and the representatives of the Northern Alliance had taken such discussions to a new level. Talks were also taking place elsewhere.  In those forums, Afghans were discussing the steps for the establishment of a transitional administration that would pave the way for a stable government.  It was time to bring those views into play.  The common view was that the United Nations should bring the parties together.

He said, while the United Nations had been involved in Afghanistan for many years, time was now of the essence and it was now indispensable to bring the efforts of the various Afghan groups to the fore.  There was also a need for nimbleness in finding political solutions. It was, therefore, necessary for the Northern Alliance and other groups to meet with the United Nations as soon as possible, so as to allow for fair representation in the country, and from the Rome and Cyprus processes, as well as the Peshawar Convention.

Mr. Brahimi went on to say that, based on ideas discussed by Afghans, there was a potential approach.  First, the United Nations could convene a meeting at a venue to be determined with the representatives of the Northern Alliance and other groups. The purpose -- to ensure fair representation in a process leading to an agreement on a framework for political representation.  The second stage would be  to prescribe concrete steps, to be followed by a comprehensive group that was all Afghan.  He said the credibility and legitimacy of a provisional council would be enhanced if attention were paid to the participation of groups who were not engaged in armed conflict.  The other steps would include proposing a provisional administration; approval for a transitional administration; and the convening of a second loya jurga to approve the administration and government of Afghanistan.

He said good governance depended on clear rules of the game and adherence by all to the rules.  Afghans must be engaged in the new institutions and the new government.  Their work with United Nations institutions had given many Afghans experience in managing accountable organizations.  But without genuine and lasting security, nothing would be possible, let alone the establishment of a new government, he added.  That necessitated the introduction of a robust security force that would be able to discharge its authority.

Regarding security, he went on to say that there were three options:  an all-Afghan security force; a multinational component; or a United Nations peacekeeping presence.  The preferred option so far was the first, as long as it could be established in a speedy manner. But, since that was unlikely to be constituted in the near future, consideration would have to be given to an international presence to provide security and peace, while problems were being resolved.  He warned, however, that United Nations peacekeepers had proven most successful only when deployed to implement an existing political settlement that had already been agreed upon by the parties.  They could not serve as substitutes in the absence of such agreements.  Peacekeepers could not afford to find themselves cast as combatants.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, Mr. Brahimi said it had to be recognized that a grave crisis loomed and civilian suffering would be of immense magnitude.  It was anticipated that there would be great difficulties associated with providing clothing, food and shelter for winter to 6 million people.  “We must drop and distribute at least 52,000 metric tonnes of food per month, and provide shelter for 7.5 million people, as well as 1 million internally displaced persons around the country”, he stressed.  There must also be adherence to international humanitarian and human rights laws by all parties.  The United Nations was now identifying and assisting the most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, while the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners was so far supplying 12,000 metric tonnes of food.

He said events in Mazar-i-Sharif had opened up new opportunities, but also new fears.  He was reasonably confident that the pipeline from Uzbekistan would be soon activated, transforming Mazar-i-Sharif into a hub able to reach other parts of the country.

He said world leaders had indicated that this time the international community would have the will and staying power to help Afghans reconstruct their country. Reconstruction would require significant financial and technical commitments, as well as flexibility and coordination by the Afghans.  The men and women of Afghanistan had suffered much.  They had refused interference and yet called for help.  They expected assistance, but feared that the United Nations would not deliver.  They could not understand why their country was being attacked and why children were being killed by stray bombs.

He said that, while the transitional administration might not include all who should be there and might perhaps include some whose credentials were questionable, the bottom line, however, was to achieve the elusive peace sought so dearly by Afghans. Those people had the right to expect much from the international community. He appealed to all to show the Afghans that “we are not going to give up on them this time and show genuine solidarity and real generosity”.

Other Statements

JACK STRAW, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom, said theTaliban had placed themselves at the heart of the evil Al Qaeda network.  They had caused untold suffering to the people of Afghanistan, abusing the rights of women and sponsoring a drug trade that was responsible for 90 per cent of the drugs on the streets of Europe.  Almost all of the millions of refugees collected outside of Afghanistan had been refugees before 11 September.  The news overnight had been a great relief, as Kabul, the largest city in Afghanistan, was of huge symbolic importance.  The fact that it had fallen with so little bloodshed, and that it had happened before the onset of winter, was important.  The Taliban were on the run, but the war was not over.

He said the world would be looking at the activities of the troops taking over Kabul and expected better behaviour than had been exhibited before.  The international community would be watching and monitoring the behaviour of the Northern Alliance.  The responsibility for ensuring the readmission of Afghanistan into the community of nations depended on how they conducted themselves..

In the short space of time since the original Council resolutions against terrorism had been adopted, a set of principles had been established, he said.  Arrangements for a new administration in Afghanistan had to be achieved under the auspices of the United Nations.  There must be an end to interference by external forces and there had to be sustained cooperative support from the international community for the new government of Afghanistan.  Iran and Pakistan, States that had borne the brunt of refugees, must be assisted by the international community in that task.  Within the framework of benign but active international support, it was for the Afghans to decide on a new multi-representative government.  The Afghans were right to be angry that in the past the countries of the international community had gone into Afghanistan, and then walked away.

He said the international community must focus on an early gathering of internal Afghan parties.  The United Kingdom would assist that process in whatever way it could.  The humanitarian agencies must get humanitarian aid into Afghanistan in greater measure.  Thanks to the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, the opportunities for access were greater, but so were the challenges.  It was important that the agencies involved ensured that the provision of relief aid and recovery were part of a coherent plan.  In the meantime, security must be ensured in both the short term and the long term.  The Council must take early action to address the longer-term security of the region. 

Continuing, he said that skilled Afghans in the immediate region, and in the wider diaspora, must be encouraged to return to Afghanistan.  It was one of the poorest countries in the world, but it was not poor in terms of the skills and intellectual abilities of its people, who were now scattered around the world.  His Government was ready to assist those Afghans who wished to return.  The international community must keep the focus on international terrorism, he emphasized.  The Al Qaeda was down, but they were not out. 

ANATOLIY ZLENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said the people of Afghanistan had fallen victim to the criminal Taliban regime, which had not only imposed cruel terror on its own people, but had also brought about a real threat to the lives of people in different parts of the world.  The present situation in and around Afghanistan was being approached primarily in the context of the global fight against terrorists, who had found a safe haven in that country.

Citing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, he said terrorism could not be European, Asian, Afghan, Chechen, Islamic or Christian.  It was an enemy without a nation, nationality or religion.  Terrorism was armed with hatred and new means provided by the era of globalization.  To prevent the threat of war and terrorism from ever again coming from the territory of Afghanistan, the country needed peace and stability, which would lay the foundations for its economic and spiritual rebirth.

He said that, although the military option for resolving the inter-Afghan conflict seemed realistic to the parties involved, there was no alternative to a broad political dialogue involving all ethnic, political and religious groups in Afghanistan.  The United Nations should play the leading role in arranging for such a dialogue by supporting those representatives of Afghan society who sincerely wanted to restore peace and stability to their land.

Emphasizing the need to bring all international efforts to resolve the conflict under the aegis of the United Nations, he said the Secretary-General's role in supporting the political process in Afghanistan would be extremely important at all stages.  He added that internal stability was impossible without external support, particularly from the neighbouring countries.  Ukraine welcomed the declaration adopted by the "six plus two" group yesterday in New York.

S. JAYAKUMAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said the current military operation was clearly not directed at the Afghan people, but against the perpetrators of the most horrible acts of terrorism and those supporting them.  A political solution could not be imposed in Afghanistan, and it was hoped that the Afghan people would put aside their differences and work together to build a broad-based, multi-ethnic, fully representative government.

Regarding the catastrophic humanitarian situation, he said Afghanistan had one of the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates in the world.  Massive humanitarian assistance was needed urgently, especially before the onset of winter.  Singapore's contribution to humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan amounted to $1.17 million.  The bulk of the refugee burden generated by the humanitarian crisis had been borne by Afghanistan's neighbours, especially Pakistan and Iran, which also needed urgent assistance.

Humanitarian assistance, while badly needed, could only be compared to applying a Band-Aid to a patient suffering many wounds, he said.  The patient also needed blood transfusions, antibiotics and long-term medical care.  Without a long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction programme, any peace process and transitional government in Afghanistan would be fragile and reversible.

He urged an immediate start on developing plans for a comprehensive rehabilitation of Afghanistan, supported by developmental agencies like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other donors.  If the international community could convince the Afghan people that it was ready to help them, it would advance the logic of peace and change the political calculus from conflict and strife to that of a stable and responsible member of the international community.

JAN PETERSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the Taliban had complete disregard to humanitarian principles, international law and human rights.  They were the major cause of the suffering of the Afghan people, not least the oppression of women.  Norway was still deeply concerned about the obstacles for humanitarian organizations in Taliban-controlled areas.  The Taliban must ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel and their full access to people in need. Norway was pleased that Pakistan was opening its border to the most vulnerable refugees.  International solidarity and burden-sharing with neighbouring countries was called for, particularly with Pakistan and Iran.  His Government was prepared to do its part.

There was an immediate need to increase humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan before the onset of winter, he said.  That was especially urgent in the most vulnerable areas in the north.  In that regard, Norway had recently stepped up its assistance, disbursing nearly $35 million this year.  Only a broad-based government that included representatives from all major groups could bring stability to Afghanistan.  Only a government committed to basic human rights and development could ensure long-term peace and security.

Efforts to assist Afghanistan would only be effective if they were well coordinated and part of a comprehensive political and economic strategy, he said.  Such a strategy must be supported by the necessary security presence.  Humanitarian assistance must pave the way for long-term rehabilitation.  Peace- building and reconstruction must start now, and the United Nations must play a leading role.  The need for a coordinated approach to humanitarian assistance and reconstruction would also guide Norway’s chairmanship of the Afghanistan Support Group, starting in January next year.

ANIL KUMARSINGH GAYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritius, said the events of 11 September had shocked the world, but, at the same time, it had awakened it to the situation of the Afghan people.  He was grateful that events indicated the end of the Taliban regime was near.  He hoped that the response provided by the international community would be commensurate to the needs of the Afghan people.

The United Nations must ensure that a minimum of law and order prevailed following the departure of the Taliban, he continued.  It had a daunting task and would have to be involved in setting up an interim government and in the post-war reconstruction.  The interim government would have to be set up under the loya jurga tradition.  The fall of the Taliban regime must not become a temptation for neighbours to impose a government of their liking.  The work of the “six plus two” was valuable, but must be expanded to include other governments that could help Afghanistan.  He was sure the Afghan people had breathed a sigh of relief with the departure of the Taliban, so that they could now live normal lives like everyone else in the world.

He said the humanitarian situation was daunting, but he was sure that help would be provided.  He hoped it would be made available before the onset of winter.  The time for testing the international community’s commitment had come.  Any failure on the part of the international community now would undermine the confidence of the Afghan people in the world’s leaders.

MODIBO SIDIBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Malians Abroad of Mali,  said the situation in Afghanistan required a major effort on the part of the international community.  Everything possible should be done to bring food aid to Afghanistan.  The fate of the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and the sick, should be given special attention, as should the refugees.  He thanked those border States that had kept the road open to refugees and called on other States to come to their assistance.  He stressed the importance of the OCHA.

He said it was crucial to ensure the security of international personnel in Afghanistan.  Donors should speed up their pledges and live up to their commitment to ensure the Afghan people would not become a target in the conflict.  The Afghan people should be assisted in participating in a broad-based dialogue and in preserving their integrity.  He welcomed the talks that Mr. Brahimi had had with the leaders of the region, in the effort to find a consensus in dealing with the situation.  He hoped that the forces entering Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif would observe the principles of international humanitarian law.

BRIAN COWEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said that, as the military campaign was pursued, a visible and fully effective strategy must be

put in place for addressing the humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Afghanistan.  The distribution of humanitarian assistance within Afghanistan must be the absolute priority, especially with the imminent onset of winter.  As the Secretary-General had said, there was a need for all States to disburse their generous commitments as soon as possible.  For its part, the Government of Ireland had already committed $5 million this year for emergency humanitarian relief in Afghanistan.

“We believe that only a fully representative and broad-based government will express the will of all its people and ensure long-term peace and security in the country”, he said.  As to the best way of achieving those objectives, Ireland considered strongly that the process should be led by the United Nations.  As a member of the Security Council, Ireland would work to ensure that a sufficient mandate was developed.  Although the evolving situation on the ground would necessitate flexibility and adaptability, endorsement of the post-Taliban government by the United Nations would be an indispensable guarantee of its legitimacy.

Given the total breakdown in Afghanistan’s economic and social infrastructure, the United Nations should plan to move from emergency humanitarian relief, through a recovery phase -- including the return of internally displaced persons and refugees -- to reconstruction and rehabilitation.  Close coordination of all agencies and organizations concerned would be important to ensure that it was done in a phased and seamless manner.  The initial use of quick-impact projects could help to jump-start the economy and promote eradication of the trade in opium.  As a member State of the European Union, Ireland stood ready to contribute to that process.

GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said his country had unequivocally supported the action currently being undertaken in Afghanistan, as well as the sanctions regimes included in resolutions concerning that country.  In the interest of international peace and security, a transitional solution towards a lasting settlement should be reached on the basis of fluid dialogue encompassing all members of Afghan society, regional actors and the Security Council.  A broad-based, participatory government, with grass-roots representation not imposed from above, could lay the groundwork for a more permanent solution.

In that effort, he said, the United Nations should be more of a facilitator than the main protagonist, which should be the Afghans themselves.  A clear role for the Organization must be defined with relevant roles for both its inter-governmental organs.  The Security Council, in that view, would coordinate the political and security agendas.  The General Assembly, as the principal source of international legitimacy, should garner the support of all Members for the temporary and, later, permanent solutions.

The transitional government, he said, should be expected to;  respect human rights; meet the needs of its people; contribute to regional and international stability; and eradicate from its territory the links with international terrorism and related activities, such as the flow of illicit drugs.  He expressed appreciation to regional States that had provided humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees, along with all humanitarian workers.  He appealed to the donor community to continue to try to resolve the humanitarian crisis and hoped that the Security Council would cooperate closely with regional actors in order to eradicate terrorists in the region and meet other objectives.

TANG JIAXUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan could become a threat to the peace and stability of the entire region.  A potential power vacuum could also cause widespread social chaos.  The United Nations, therefore, should accelerate the process towards a political settlement of the Afghan question, facilitating the establishment of a transitional administration and setting reconstruction into motion as soon as possible.  The United Nations should play the leading role and, together with the international community, should provide political, technical and financial assistance on an urgent basis.

He said that all parties and factions in Afghanistan should be encouraged to reach agreement, through dialogue, on a transitional administration and a future political framework.  The transitional administration should be broad-based, represent all ethnic groups, and have friendly foreign relations, with the solutions to future questions determined by the Afghan people themselves.

Dialogue, he said, was the only way to achieve enduring peace in Afghanistan.  Any proposals that were conducive to restoring peace, stability and neutrality in Afghanistan should be seriously considered.  China has provided emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees and hoped the international community would make greater efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis.  China was also willing to join in constructive efforts towards a comprehensive political solution in that country.

HUBERT VEDRINE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said the most important issue now was that the international community had started to attain the goal of depriving Al Qaeda of its resources by bringing about the fall of the Taliban regime.  The events of the past hours should bring relief, but they also generated concern.  The new leaders must show concern for the people in the cities.  The leaders of the Northern Alliance must control their troops and not engage in another cycle of vengeance.

He said the international community needed to speed up their preparations for the post-Taliban period.  In that context, he supported Mr. Brahimi’s proposals.  It was time to implement those proposals without further ado, and the United Nations should act as quickly as security allowed.  If the political process could begin this week, it would speed the process up.  However, there could be no recognized government unless the people of Afghanistan realized that the future was what counted.

The meeting of the Group of 21 was a good idea, as it could restart the process and send a message to all of the Afghan people to relaunch the government, he said.  The international community would help the Afghan people to recover.  It was a time of immense opportunity, but the type of security that was needed must be determined.  Afghanistan was facing the greatest of opportunities.  The world was prepared to help.

REAZ RAHMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said that the situation on the ground in Afghanistan was evolving quickly.  The Council's approach should take that into account and it should focus simultaneously on all the building blocks of a comprehensive solution:  ending the conflict; providing humanitarian assistance; reconciling factions and arriving at a balanced political settlement; and establishing a broad-based political structure.  It was reconstruction and development that would provide a sustainable exit strategy for the international community.

Along with the United Nations' central assistance role in the post-conflict setting, Afghans themselves should be put in charge of all efforts, in an inclusive manner, he said.  The Peshawar meeting of tribal leaders last month was relevant to their efforts for choosing a broadly representative government.  In setting the ground for that new governance, it was essential that a security void did not ensue, and that all parties committed themselves to protecting civilians, especially women, and avoid reprisal killings and human rights abuses.

In addition, he said, a robust public information campaign could immediately fill an information void and, in the longer term, help address many social issues.  Finally, the humanitarian situation remained a major concern.  Civilian casualties should be kept to a minimum.  The difficult task of aid disbursement, with Ramadan and the winter approaching, needed to be accomplished early and in a well-coordinated manner, using humanitarian workers on the ground.  Within its modest capacity, Bangladesh had sent $1 million worth of aid to Afghanistan and would continue to stand by its people.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the meeting today attested to the determination of the Security Council to end the suffering of innocent Afghans, who had been held hostage in their own country for many years.  It was also critical, as winter approached, to get assistance to Afghanistan’s civilian population.

While he understood the overriding need to fight terrorism, he stressed making make sure that the coalition’s military campaign did not engender fear in an impoverished population that had been abandoned for many years.  All actions must be based on respect for human rights and a commitment not to harm the innocent.  He appealed for civilians in Afghanistan to be spared damage and destruction.  He also supported the Secretary-General’s appeal for the war in Afghanistan to end as soon as possible.

International humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan was an absolute priority, he said.  Tunisia was providing assistance through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  There were gaps, however, between the minimum amount of required assistance for the country and what the United Nations and donor countries were actually giving.  Concern over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was further fuelled by impeded access and the interruption of assistance, particularly with the arrival of winter, which would close existing transit routes.

He said the redeployment of humanitarian staff was essential.  Such staff must be provided with the necessary security, so that they could carry out their tasks.  He called on local authorities and the Northern Alliance to guarantee their protection in Mazar-i-Sharif.  He said it was important for the “six plus two” group to act in a united and coordinated way that would guarantee peace and security in Afghanistan. The international community was morally and duty bound to help the Afghan people and not condemn them to a fate in the hands of terrorists. Mr. Brahimi’s recommendations today could serve as the beginnings of a peace process, he added.

JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said events in Afghanistan would not wait for the international community.  Several things needed to be done now, by the United Nations, by the international community, and by humanitarian assistance agencies.  The international community must support the United Nations and

Mr. Brahimi in the urgent efforts to bring together Afghans, as soon as possible, to form an interim authority for liberated areas.  That authority must be representative of, and acceptable to, Afghans.  And the international community, and especially the countries of the region, must support it, or it will not succeed.  An international presence must be established so soon as possible. 

He said the international community must call for restraint on the part of the Afghan liberation forces.  Afghanistan did not need another cycle of revenge and retribution as the Taliban collapsed.  The international community must act immediately to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance.  He urged the international assistance community to accelerate the re-entry of assistance personnel and supplies into Afghanistan.  His country was eager to do its part.  The United States also urged those in a position to do so to support efforts to ensure the safety and security of the liberated areas and especially to protect Afghan civilians and international personnel.  As terrorism was set to flight, Afghans must know that the international community would help them rebuild, and support their efforts to achieve the peace that had so long been denied them.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the situation in Afghanistan now was up to the Afghans themselves, but it would be difficult for them to deal with the tasks that lay ahead unassisted.  Without help, it would be impossible to eliminate the threats that had been emanating from Afghanistan.  Preventing that threat from endangering the security of the region and the international community fell squarely within the purview of the United Nations.  There must be a peaceful and truly independent State that had friendly relations with its neighbours and with the international community as a whole.  The new government should not be “pro” anyone.

He said the viability of the future political system depended upon whether the new government was multi-ethnic.  Only on that basis would there be a stable political regime. It was important to avoid the domination of any one ethnic group over the other.  There could be no place for the Taliban in the new government, unless the criminal element was eliminated.  The international community must distinguish between the Taliban and the Pashtun, the bulk of whom did not share the views of the Taliban.  The “six plus two” could work to find a balance between the interested parties.  He stressed the importance of yesterday's meeting between

the “six plus two”, in which there was a thorough exchange of views.  It was important to condemn the links of the Taliban with terrorist organizations and support the efforts of the people to rid themselves of that regime.

He stressed the importance of the involvement of other countries through the use of available mechanisms. As the job to rebuild Afghanistan became more urgent, the role of the Afghan support group should grow.  At the present time in Kunduz province, a large group of military Taliban -- 10,000 people -- was fully surrounded.  The troops consisted of Taliban and foreign mercenaries.  The rank and file might benefit from amnesty, if they handed over their weapons.  He called on the international community to pressure them to halt their resistance and avoid further bloodshed.  The Russian Federation would continue to contribute its large-scale assistance through the United Nations.  He stressed the importance of the efforts of the Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi and affirmed his Government's commitment to work closely with them over the range of Afghan problems.

K.D. KNIGHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said the changing situation on the ground in Afghanistan must not result in further atrocities, but in peace and security and a process that reflected the will of the Afghan people.  His delegation supported the establishment of a broad-based, democratic, stable and representative government in the country.  The United Nations also had an important role to play in assisting in the process that would lead up to that government.

He said Mr. Brahimi’s recent important talks in the region and his recommendations today in the Council were also key factors in the Afghan process.  He commended the United Nations system for its contribution to alleviating the suffering of Afghans over the last few weeks and the innovative efforts to both find alternative delivery routes and target regions where needs were the greatest.

There had to be stable environment in Afghanistan for humanitarian organizations to function efficiently, he said.  The influx of refugees into neighbouring countries and their abysmal conditions in camps also required immediate assistance.  Special attention must also be paid to the condition of Afghan women and girls, who had been denied their basic civil and human rights and suffered from exclusion.  Objectives in Afghanistan could only be achieved with the cooperation and assistance of neighbouring countries and the wider international community.  He stressed that the Special Representative’s efforts would be instrumental in the establishment of a political arrangement to stabilize the Afghan situation.

The meeting suspended at 1:23p.m.

When the Council reconvened at 3:45 p.m., LOUIS MICHEL, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.

He said the European Union remained ready to participate actively, under the aegis of the United Nations, in the quest for a political solution and in the subsequent reconstruction of Afghanistan.  The fight against the scourge of terrorism in Afghanistan required as wide an international coalition as possible, under the aegis of the United Nations.  The Organization remained the most appropriate forum for reinvigorating and reinforcing the efforts to eliminate international terrorism.  The threat was global and so must be the cooperation between all cultures, religions and societies.  The fight against terrorism was not directed at the Muslim world.

He said the Union firmly supported the targeted military operations that began on 7 October.  The objective was to eliminate the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.  The target was not the civilian population.  Emergency humanitarian aid was an absolute priority for the Union, which had undertaken to mobilize without delay aid amounting to more that 320 million euros.  He stressed the importance of releasing the funds promised by the international community.  The Union also appealed to the countries of the region to facilitate the humanitarian operations directed at fresh flows of Afghan refugees, and it called on the international community to assist those countries.

There would be no peace and stability in the country as long as there was no democratic and broad-based government, which included all ethnic groups, he said.  The new government must have respect for the principles of human rights and law.  It was up to the United Nations and the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Afghanistan to play a central role in helping the Afghans to establish such a government.

He went on to say that the uncertainties surrounding the length and consequences of the military campaign meant that the United Nations, to some extent, would have to be flexible.  He stressed the importance of incorporating a human rights dimension into any settlement concerning Afghanistan.  It was important to initiate a plan for the economic and institutional reconstruction of the country right away, as it was essential for the political process to be backed up with economic aid.  It was also vital for the neighbouring countries to be closely involved and to play a constructive part in the United Nations’ work.

JOZIAS VAN AARTSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, associating himself with the European Union statement, said realities on the ground were changing quickly as the military campaign proceeded, with direct consequences for the weight every segment of the Afghan population carried in negotiations on the future government.  It was urgent for Mr. Brahimi to start bringing the parties together, as part of the comprehensive proposals he had presented to the meeting.  A new political structure should be founded on Afghan ownership and should not be imposed from outside.

Regarding security, he said the success of the military campaign should not result in the predominance of a particular party or faction, and the possession of towns should not determine exclusively the outcome of the political process.  The Security Council resolution must enable swift action to ensure as soon as possible some international, preferably United Nations, presence in the towns that changed hands in recent days.  Very soon after that, transitional military arrangements would be essential to create a secure environment.

Stressing that the United Nations should take the lead in coordinating and organizing reconstruction and rehabilitation, he said quick-impact projects in areas like food, housing and water supply should be implemented without delay to support economic recovery.  There was a need to set up new channels or structures for international aid.  The Afghanistan Support Group could continue to act as the platform for donor coordination, supporting the United Nations.  A humanitarian donor conference must be coordinated by the United Nations.

He agreed with the representative of the Russian Federation that Afghanistan was not the prerogative of the “six plus two” group.  For the United Nations effort to succeed, it was important that not only the wider membership stay involved, but that those countries providing the bulk of resources participate in the policy-making process.  Their level of commitment must be reflected by, for example, setting up a Group of Friends to support the Secretary-General’s work on Afghanistan.

The Council must provide Mr. Brahimi with the right tools to act promptly, he emphasized.  Those included:  encouragement to bring the parties together speedily; some international presence in the very short term; a quick decision on achievable options for security arrangements; and swift action in early reconstruction.

PHIL GOFF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, said the Taliban withdrawal from Kabul in the last 24 hours had greatly increased the urgent need for the international community to assist the Afghan people.  The key challenge before the Council was meeting the security needs of Afghanistan, while steps were being taken to establish a legitimate government.  The United Nations had a leading role in addressing the political future of the country.  To succeed it needed the firm support of Afghanistan’s neighbours.  The endorsement of the “six plus two” group of countries for the role of the United Nations and Mr. Brahimi was also critical.

He said The Taliban’s disregard for United Nations resolutions over the last three years and the events of 11 September had dictated the application of new measures.  The international coalition was now embarking on a campaign to suppress Al Qaeda.  But, while the withdrawal of the Taliban from Kabul was good, there was still a long way to go.  He underscored that there should be increased efforts to avoid civilian casualties.  Too many innocent lives had already been lost.  As winter approached, assistance must also be delivered to the millions who would be at risk.

He said the political and humanitarian dimensions of the Afghan crisis were intrinsically linked and must be addressed in a coordinated way, if a long-term solution was to be found.  Resolving the crisis was the most important challenge before the United Nations today.  Everything depended on the restoration of a legitimate government in Afghanistan.  Restoring law and order would contribute enormously to the crisis affecting millions living marginally in refugee camps.  He urged the Council to act decisively so that the desired outcome could be achieved in Afghanistan.

ABDUL SATTAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said an interim government for Afghanistan had to be instituted urgently, as the situation was emerging faster than was ever expected.  The Afghans had suffered at the hands of man and nature for over two decades.  Osama bin Laden had abused Afghan hospitality to spread terror across the globe.  The terrorist attacks of 11 September provoked righteous condemnation, and Pakistan had joined that condemnation and the coalition against terrorism.  The military attack in Afghanistan had inflicted unintended suffering on innocent people.  The President of Pakistan had called for the military action to be combined with political and humanitarian strategies to bring peace and stability.  He emphasized that for there to be stability, the post-Taliban government should be representative of the demography of Afghanistan.  It should be home-grown and should commit itself to the United Nations resolutions.  Moreover, it should maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours, a concept shared by the “six plus two” group.

He said the Assembly for Peace and Unity of Afghanistan, which included representatives of the diverse population of the country, had adopted a plan for a government of peace and unity.  It was particularly important now to keep political objectives in focus.  He endorsed the proposals of Mr. Brahimi, but cautioned that speed was of the essence.  Unless the United Nations was able to put together a political dispensation that was representative of the country, conflict and turmoil would continue.  It would be vital for the interim government to move to Kabul.  Peace and security there must be ensured.  Acts of reprisal and ethnic cleansing must be prevented, or it would deal a mortal blow to the hope for unity of the Afghan people.

The need for a humanitarian strategy required a concerted action, not only in refugee camps, but also inside Afghanistan, he said.  It would involve setting up camps inside Afghanistan for internally displaced persons.  Next to Afghanistan, no country had suffered more than Pakistan.  The refugees had entered the labour force, increasing unemployment among Pakistanis.  Pakistan was not able to open its borders to all, since that would bring a massive influx that the country could not afford.  It was essential to provide assistance to the needy Afghans inside their own country.  Pakistan continued to allow vulnerable Afghans to be housed in refugee camps near the border, on a temporary basis, and would continue to do what it could to alleviate the hardships of the Afghans.

RENATO RUGGIERO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said his country had pledged ground troops, naval units and air forces to the coalition against international terrorism.  The current military actions were targeted to bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks and eradicate the Al Qaeda network and those who provided assistance and sanctuary to the terrorists.  Every effort should be made to reduce further sufferings of the Afghan civilian population and limit the loss of innocent lives.  That population had, for years, been victim of a humanitarian crisis, aggravated by the policies of an undemocratic and isolationist regime.

Adequate conditions must be promptly created to prevent a security vacuum, and they should accompany the political developments, he said.  A proper security framework was an indispensable element of stability and necessary for the distribution of humanitarian assistance.  In fact, humanitarian efforts should be intensified, particularly to the internally displaced persons.  Italy had so far allocated more than $30 million in response to the appeals of various humanitarian organizations.  It had also increased its aid to countries that sheltered large numbers of refugees.

Together with the United Nations, Italy was studying how to better assist the reconstruction, once peace had returned to the region, he said.  Italy intended to consider, as a matter of priority, quick implementation projects benefiting the local population.  Efforts should be particularly focused in the agricultural sector and in promoting crop replacement, with the aim of eradicating the plague of drugs.  The donor community must be mobilized within a clear intervention strategy, encompassing the transition from the emergence phase to reconstruction and rehabilitation.

KAMAL KHARRAZI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said the challenge of restoring stability in Afghanistan required political will and commitment, as well as concerted collective actions.  While a military operation had been launched in response to the terrorist threat, military action was not the solution.  The people of Afghanistan did not deserve another war and must be offered other alternatives.  The third ministerial meeting of the “six plus two” group provided an opportunity to re-establish peace, security and normalcy and help the Afghans rid themselves of the Taliban.

He stressed the imperative of pursuing a political objective beyond military action and preparing for a peaceful end to decades of conflicts and the harbouring of terrorism.  In the light of the liberation of Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Taleqan, Herat and provinces in the north, the time had come to advance the formation of a broad-based government, so as to avoid a recurrence of previous situations.  A post-Taliban government was expected to:  commit itself to international law; maintain peaceful and friendly relations with its neighbours; prevent the use of its soil for subversive, destabilizing and terrorist activities; and ban production, trade and trafficking in narcotic drugs.

The Security Council should adopt a resolution enumerating the principles of a post-Taliban government, defining the presence and monitoring role of the United Nations during a transitional period, he said.  There was also an urgent need to piece together a time-bound transitional arrangement to move from post-conflict to normalcy. That urgency had been further augmented by recent military developments.  Iran welcomed the United Front’s issuance of a general amnesty and called on it to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law for all Afghans, as well as foreigners.

Noting that poverty made peace fragile, he stressed that international financial institutions should contribute significantly to the restoration of peace and normalcy to Afghanistan through the mobilization of assistance for reconstruction and development.  With the approach of winter, following three years of drought, Afghans were in dire need of humanitarian assistance.  To avert the impending crisis, the supply of assistance, especially to the north, had to continue much more energetically.  The international community must seize the opportunity, because the costs of failure would be immense.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said that Uzbekistan bordered Afghanistan and would like to have good relations with its people.  He noted that his Government had facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance. 

The international community needed to think now about the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, he said.  An entire generation had grown up knowing nothing but war.  He supported the principle that an essential unifying role must be played by the United Nations.  The events of today had validated the correctness of the actions of the international community in its fight against terrorism.  His Government would do everything it could to see that peace returned to Afghanistan and to help restore the integrity of a country where peace and security could be ensured.  

ISMAIL CEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said the challenge was to destroy the terrorist network and to support the revival of the Afghan identity.  Concerted international action was of crucial importance if the Afghan people were to rebuild their identify.  The international community would support their efforts, but it should not dictate to them who would be in the government and how it should be formed.  He supported the idea that regional and tribal identities should be encouraged to merge into a single Afghan identity and resume their roles as subcultures.

He said neighbouring countries and United Nations Member States should refrain from having a particular Afghan group as a primary ally and from trying to pursue particular interests through such an ally.  Overemphasizing or undermining the role of any particular group would be counter-productive.  Innocent civilians should be kept out of harm’s way.  The international community should continue to bring in comprehensive humanitarian support.  In regions of Afghanistan that were being freed from terrorist oppression, the international community should organize itself to provide for basic needs and display the ability to help produce a better future.  The people must be able to see a concrete change, as well as new opportunities.  Setting a successful precedent in the already liberated areas would provide a catalyst for those areas not yet liberated.

So far, he said, there had been encouraging news from those areas that were being liberated.  It also seemed that the liberating groups were behaving more appropriately than they had in the past.  If, however, the international community was not present in Afghanistan, there might be negative developments that would jeopardize the effort to rebuild Afghanistan.  Turkey was ready to take part in any group that worked towards the rehabilitation of Afghanistan, he said.

DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), reading a statement on behalf of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and associating himself with the position of the European Union, said 11 September would go down in history as the dawn of a new era of cooperation and multilateralism.  One thing was certain -- a purely repressive response to terrorism would fail.  That lesson must not be forgotten, particularly with regard to Afghanistan.

He said civil war, human rights violations and the misery inflicted on millions of refugees had provided the nourishing ground for an unprecedented symbiosis between the Al Qaeda terrorist group and the Taliban regime.  From there, the trail led directly to the monstrous attacks on the United States.  But, the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan was, first and foremost, the work of the Taliban and, it had begun long before 11 September.

A solution to the crisis must be found by the Afghan population and reflect their diversity, he emphasized.  The first pressing goal should be the convening of a representative body to form a transitional government, which would agree on the implementation of a peace plan.  It was also necessary to take into consideration the legitimate interests and concerns of neighbouring States, which bore a large share of the responsibility for the success of peace efforts.  A political solution must be legitimized and comprehensively backed by the United Nations and the international community, as the prerequisite for stabilizing the situation and organizing relief and reconstruction.

Clear political, economic and humanitarian objectives must now be defined, he said, and he outlined the four prime tasks of the mandate to be provided by the Security Council resolution:  support for the formation of a representative transitional government and the development of local and regional self-administration; a major international effort to provide humanitarian aid rapidly and comprehensively; the opening of economic and social perspectives through a comprehensive reconstruction programme; and a contribution to security and stability.

He stressed that the Northern Alliance also bore responsibility for security and stability.  His Government was very concerned about reports of recent atrocities that might jeopardize efforts for a political solution.  A new political order could only claim legitimacy if it respected universal human rights and international law.

He said the United Nations must be able to count on broad international support in its quest to support the creation of viable political institutions.  That required cooperation from those States that were particularly affected, or were playing a major role.  In order to combine and increase the humanitarian efforts of the international community, Germany had, as chair of the Afghan Support Group, convened a meeting in Berlin for early December to send a signal of international solidarity with Afghanistan.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the extraordinary response to today’s debate demonstrated the commitment of the international community to the Afghan people   and the importance of finding a lasting solution to their crisis.  Canada was particularly concerned about the protection of Afghanistan’s civilians, particularly displaced persons.  Commending Mr. Brahimi on his report and his wise insights on the current situation on the ground, he said the Special Representative was tasked to set up a multi-ethnic neutral administration in Afghanistan. That was a difficult order.  The international community must act promptly, as that would be decisive to the future of the country and intrinsic to the campaign against terrorism. 

He said that, while the Taliban’s withdrawal from Kabul was good news, it was also disturbing to hear the reports of lawlessness that were now taking place.  “We must not lose sight of the objective of bringing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to justice”, he stressed.  What needed to be established in Afghanistan was:  the rule of law; reintegration of former combatants; demilitarization; the creation of  police forces and a judiciary; the establishment of human rights, as well as women’s rights; and the establishment of criminal structures to combat crime and the drug trade.

He agreed with Mr. Brahimi that the solution to Afghanistan’s problems lay with Afghans, both in the country and part of the diaspora. The only solution had to be advanced by the Afghans for Afghans and supported by the international community.  Success also hinged on satisfying the security concerns of all Afghans and their neighbours.  He said Afghanistan was a much neglected and abused country and could not even be ranked on the last United Nations human development index.  The Organization needed to develop strategies for the country’s stabilization.  The importance of broadly engaging Afghan civil society in the dialogue on the country could not be overstated.  Afghanistan could not afford to deprive itself of 50 per cent of its talent.  Canada stood ready to offer humanitarian assistance, he added.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said that, as could be seen in what was happening in Kabul today, the military situation in Afghanistan was changing rapidly.  However, at a time when military actions were under way, it was necessary to ensure the security of non-combat areas and provide humanitarian assistance.  Once military actions ended, those efforts must be further strengthened, and efforts for rehabilitation and administration must commence in a seamless manner.  It was also necessary to advance efforts for political stability in the country.

With winter approaching, he added, the international community must urgently deliver food and other vital goods to the people of Afghanistan, and Member States must join together in supporting the humanitarian activities of United Nations organizations.  Japan had already extended emergency economic assistance, including assistance to Afghan refugees, to Pakistan and to other neighbouring countries.  It had also pledged to provide up to $120 million for assistance efforts for Afghan refugees and displaced persons in Afghanistan, to be undertaken by the United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations.

Japan was preparing to play an active role in the efforts both to attain peace in Afghanistan and to help reconstruct the country, he said.  Since 1996, his Government had been calling for holding a conference for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.  Japan was prepared to host, at the earliest possible stage, a conference that would contribute to the peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan, in cooperation with the countries and organizations concerned.

KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said that the new Afghan government should reflect the will of the Afghan people and should be the outcome of an intra-Afghan process.  A secure government capable of protecting its people would require a credible and effective security force.  In creating that force, it would be useful to integrate different non-Taliban armed groups into an effective national military and police force.  However, neither the new Afghanistan government nor its nascent security force would be in a position to deal effectively with the thousands of “Arab-Afghans” or other foreign nationals fighting on the side of the Taliban.  Those elements would have to be effectively neutralized to enable the intra-Afghan force to discharge its functions.

He added that, in the name of protecting national interests, attempts were being made from some quarters to retain a veto over the architecture of the future Afghan polity.  To accept that would be wrong in principle, as well as in practice.  The new Afghan government should be a government of the Afghans, by the Afghans and for the Afghans, and should be seen by the Afghans as such.

India, he said, had already announced economic assistance of medicine, medical services and 1 million tonnes of wheat for the needy in Afghanistan and those displaced from that country.  It had also declared its intention of extending a line of credit of $100 million for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation work, and was prepared to do more.

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said his Government was anxious to see a settlement of the conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan as soon as possible.  The problem of Afghanistan had not only regional dimensions, but also a broader international dimension.  The international community must help that country become a valuable member of the world community and change its image.  Afghan society was on the verge of major change, and the international community must help it.  He stressed that everything must be done to see that human rights and freedoms were respected and that the shameful treatment of women was ended.

A prerequisite was to bring a halt to external interference, he said.  It was also necessary to wipe out all elements of terrorism and eliminate areas of organized crime.  An effective broad-based government must be established.  There was no place for the Taliban in the new government.  He was deeply disturbed over the humanitarian situation.  The Taliban’s refusal to give up the terrorists had brought on new suffering for the Afghan people.

He said his government had decided to provide its airspace for the provision of humanitarian goods.  The humanitarian disaster threatening Afghanistan must be averted.  The huge stockpiles of raw materials of opium stored in territory under Taliban control had caused much suffering in the neighboring countries, which were trying to stop the illegal distribution of drugs.  He hoped that assistance continued to those nations in their struggle against drug trafficking.  His Government would do everything it could to help in that matter.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that coalition action against terrorism in Afghanistan was a necessary response to a serious threat to peace and security.  Australia had committed military personnel and assets to the effort.  The first objective was bringing the perpetrators and abettors of the 11 September attacks to account, but the international community also had an obligation to assist the Afghan nation in coping with its humanitarian crisis and in making a sustainable recovery. 

In doing so, the international community could not allow Afghanistan to continue to drift outside the reach of international law and norms, thus creating a haven for terrorism and crime.  It needed a government that respected human rights, including the rights of women, worked to end terrorism, and broadly represented its people.  Australia supported the efforts of Special Representative Brahimi to facilitate the emergence, from within, of such a government.

The Taliban regime had a very poor record of cooperating with international humanitarian agencies and actively hindered rehabilitation efforts.  That must end.  Afghanistan needed a government that worked cooperatively with the international community and was committed to rebuilding, establishing law and order, and enabling the return of refugees, which should be a priority.  In 2001, Australia had already allocated a total of $23.3 million to assist displaced and vulnerable Afghans in the region, and remained fully committed to helping Afghanistan begin a more hopeful future.

JORGE EDUARDO NAVARRETE (Mexico) said the military action, which was the proper response to the atrocious events of 11 September, had passed, and now it was time for the United Nations to shoulder the responsibility of rebuilding Afghanistan. Defining the political course for Afghanistan, however, was the prerogative of the Afghan people.  The new government had to be inclusive and broad-based and set up in the near future.

He said Afghanistan needed assistance and not interference from the members of the international community.  When exercising their moral and political authority, the Secretary-General and his Special Representative should discharge their mandate with a view to encouraging dialogue and understanding, as well as commitment towards the establishment of a representative government.

He said the strategy laid down this morning by Mr. Brahimi seemed generally to be quite right.  It was indispensable that, first and foremost, the parties meet to hold a constructive dialogue aimed at reconstruction and the creation of political structures.  The reconstruction of Afghanistan might be the greatest challenge to the Organization yet, and would require all its resources.  All questions related to the future of Afghanistan were important, as they were part and parcel of the same project.

MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said his country shared the deepening concern of the international community over the calamitous humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.  It was in that context that his Government, within its limited means and capabilities, had extended humanitarian assistance amounting to $500,000 to assist the Afghan refugees.  The present situation was even more alarming considering that the humanitarian crisis could be worsen if security in Afghanistan deteriorated any further.

“We, therefore, urge all concerned parties to exercise self-restraint and end the climate of strife and violence”, he said.  Imperative at the current hour was the urgency of extending support for the endeavours of the various United Nations agencies in delivering humanitarian aid and other needed supplies to the beleaguered population.  At such a crucial time, the leaders of the various factions should set aside their differences in the broader interests of their people and demonstrate the political will, sagacity and genuine desire for peace.

Now, more than ever, he added, the United Nations had a pivotal role to play in Afghanistan by promoting the establishment of a broad-based and multi-ethnic government, representative of all the Afghan people.  The time had also come for the international community to marshal its efforts towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.  The evolving developments on the ground called for expedited interim arrangements to be in place, and it was hoped that the United Nations would move to the forefront of those efforts.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that a discussion of the future of Afghanistan required consideration of the following elements.  First, it was necessary to preserve the territorial integrity of Afghanistan.  Second, all Afghans should engage in the forming of the new government and in the future administration of their country in a manner that would serve the interests of the predominantly Muslim population.  Third, foreign Powers must refrain from any attempt to impose their influence or hegemony.

Fourth, he continued, the international community, particularly the economic Powers, must take serious steps towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan in a manner that would ensure security, stability and peace.  That should lead to the beginning of a new era of prosperity and development in the history of Afghanistan, as well as the end of suffering.  Fifth, the forces of terrorism must be denied any opportunity to use the territory of Afghanistan for their evil acts that destabilize countries, jeopardize the interests of peoples and burn the bridges of understanding among them.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the use of military force was a legitimate course of action in self-defence, but it was not the only course, nor the most effective politically or the best to root out terrorism.  It was unfortunate that, in seeking to punish a group of people believed to be behind the terrorist attacks and their protectors, the people of Afghanistan had suffered.  While the airdrop of foodstuffs for the refugees and displaced persons was a humane gesture, it would not compensate for the hardships and traumas they had to endure while the bombings continued unabated.  Avoiding civilian casualties should not only be a matter of tactical concern, but a moral one as well.

He appealed for the end of the bombing to allow the people to return to their villages for the winter season and Ramadan.  It was true that Muslim countries had been known to wage war against each other during the month of Ramadan, but the current war was not a war between Muslim countries.  That perception was important to remember, as the international community worked out a global strategy.  “It is important not to lose a war on account of a battle”, he said.  The Afghan people could not endure another humanitarian crisis likely to result from the attacks.  Every State was prepared to join in the war against terrorism, although not necessarily in the military sphere.  What was needed was a preventive strategy that would scrutinize its roots.  Only a well-formulated strategy, coupled with concerted action, would ensure the destruction of the fertile breeding grounds of international terrorism.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) noted that recent efforts to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan had not been productive, despite targeted sanctions against the Taliban.  Now, the situation had abruptly changed, presenting new challenges for the United Nations, particularly the Security Council.

One of the most critical tasks facing the Afghan people, he said, was to establish a broad-based, representative political system in which all ethnic and political groups could participate and which would reflect their diverse interests.  In that process, they would need the cooperation and support of the international community, particularly the neighbouring countries.

He expressed appreciation for the actions taken by Mr. Brahimi, including consultations on the future of Afghanistan with all domestic and foreign parties concerned, and agreed with his recommendations on the provisional government, security forces, humanitarian assistance and national reconstruction, among others.  He shared the great concern over a possible humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, which could exacerbate the problems of millions of refugees.  His country was extending $12 million in emergency humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees in and around Afghanistan.  It would support the reconstruction effort and help to put in place an effective mechanism for securing peace and stability.

MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) called for the intensification of efforts to launch more coordinated relief programmes to alleviate the suffering of the common people, an issue that was one of Mr. Brahimi's major preoccupations and the subject of his recent consultations with the countries concerned.  She expressed concern over the possible consequences of the fight against terrorism, stressing the necessity of limiting the scope and duration of coalition operations in order to minimize casualties among peaceful Afghans.  Military activities should target the terrorist network, but not innocent civilians.

She called for a special Security Council meeting on Afghanistan and Central Asia to devise practical measures to stabilize the situation.  That meeting could develop common approaches to the issue of an intra-Afghan settlement and adopt effective measures to prevent the conflict from spilling over into Central Asia.  She reaffirmed her country's proposal to host peace talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, between the warring Afghan factions.

After the victory over terrorism, she said, it was imperative to establish a representative, multi-ethnic government and prepare for elections.  The next stage would be rehabilitation and reconstruction.  In addition, there should be a comprehensive economic revival plan incorporating the fight against terrorism and extremism, as well as against the production of drugs and the illegal arms trade.  While drafting the plan, the specific ethnic and religious situation in Afghanistan should be taken into account.

ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said his Government fully supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.  In order to enjoy legitimacy, the new political order must be representative of the multi-ethnic composition of its people and be open to all willing to start a new era of peaceful coexistence, tolerance and respect for human rights.  Only the fanatics and the extremists must be excluded from the political arena.

He said any realistic political arrangement must take into account the legitimate security concerns of the neighbouring countries.  Also, the new Government must be helped to achieve security and stability and might need the help of a security mechanism with international components.  The United Nations had a central political and humanitarian role to play in assisting the Afghan people and its leaders to agree on a viable political arrangement. The United Nations enjoyed the necessary political legitimacy to cooperate in the creation of a transitional government.  The new Government must belong to the Afghan people.  The United Nations could help the different sectors to facilitate its creation and consolidation.

The United Nations would continue to play a vital role with the support of the donor communities in the distribution of humanitarian assistance, he said.  Development was essential to peace.  Argentina had long experience in peacekeeping tasks and would provide military and civilian assistance, as well as humanitarian assistance. That would be its contribution to the creation of a secure environment for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the distribution of humanitarian assistance to its long-suffering people.

SOLEDAD ALVEAR VALENZUELA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, emphasized the central role of the United Nations in creating the conditions for restoring stability in Afghanistan.  Once a democratic government was installed, it was up to the international community to provide the necessary assistance to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, permit the return of refugees, and facilitate sustainable economic development.

However, those measures would constitute only one step in the war against international terrorism, she said.  The anti-terrorist coalition must implement development policies in areas excluded from the benefits of ghlobalization.  Chile hoped that the United Nations and the Security Council would continue their support for the Afghan people.

RAVAN FARHADI (Afghanistan) said his country’s security forces had entered the capital yesterday without bloodshed among the civilian population.  Before fleeing the capital, the Taliban had looted banks and foreign exchange counters.  The security forces had entered the capital to meet urgent needs of the people and to fill the security and political vacuum left by the hasty flight of the Taliban and foreign “Afghans” of Al Qaeda.

He said it was a major victory of the United Nations, the international community, neighbouring countries and all States fighting terrorism.  It represented a new hope for all Afghans to freely and democratically define their political future.  The United Front invited the representatives of the United Nations, international organizations and all friendly countries to visit Kabul and see for themselves how warmly it welcomed the victorious forces.

One of the United Front leaders was organizing the armed resistance in the southern part of the country, he said.  Abdul Haq, another leader who had been preparing to fight the Taliban in the east, had been betrayed by agents of a foreign secret service and executed two weeks ago.

He said that, since 11 September, two critical questions faced the international community:  what effective measures to take in order to eliminate terrorism; and how to establish a political system in Afghanistan under the rule of law.  The two were closely linked.  The United Front government had clearly indicated to the General Assembly and the Council its firm desire to rid the country of the Taliban and foreign terrorists led by Osama bin Laden.

The new Afghan Government would fight drug production and trafficking, he said.  Today, the Afghan people were paying a high price for foreign intervention and the war against terrorism.  They were in danger and needed the national unity that had always emerged in exceptional circumstances regardless of ethnic, linguistic or other differences.

Recalling events in Afghanistan during the 1990s, they had been provoked directly by foreign intervention in its internal affairs, he said.  It was understandable that Pakistan would desire to see a neighbouring Power that was not hostile to its legitimate interests, but no country had the right to exercise a veto over the self-determination of the Afghan people.  The same applied to other neighbouring States.

Politically, the United Front was striving to gain the acceptance of all the Afghan people, he said.  Given the progress of the military forces, it would do everything possible to alleviate the people’s suffering and to fill the vacuum left in Kabul.  It was also clear that, in the present circumstances, Afghanistan would need the United Nations and the international community to help in caring for the displaced people and to rebuild the economic and social fabric that had been so sorely damaged.

For information media. Not an official record.