LOYA JIRGA A TRULY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF AFGHAN SOCIETY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD IN BRIEFING ON AFGHANISTAN

21 June 2002
SC/7429

LOYA JIRGA A TRULY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF AFGHAN SOCIETY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD IN BRIEFING ON AFGHANISTAN

21/06/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7429

Security Council

4557th Meeting* (AM)

LOYA JIRGA A TRULY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF AFGHAN SOCIETY,

SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD IN BRIEFING ON AFGHANISTAN

Under-Secretary-General Says Success Marked

By Agreement of Diverse Group on Fundamental Political Questions

The success of Afghanistan's recently concluded Emergency Loya Jirga was marked by the fact that Afghans from every region, ethnicity, educational level and occupation had ultimately agreed on fundamental questions regarding their political future, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council this morning.

As he briefed the Council on developments in Afghanistan, he said the Loya Jirga offered a truly representative sample of Afghan society and noted that, for the first time in the country's history, a woman, Massoud Jalal, had finished second to Hamid Karzai, the new head of State.

Noting that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had documented several cases of intimidation during the assembly, which had been brought to the attention of the Afghan Government, he stressed that it was vital that the authorities highlight and address instances where democratic rights had been abused by those who still equated power with force and violence.

He said that Mr. Karzai had presented an encouraging reformist vision, including proposals for a lean government structure focusing on the people rather than a heavy bureaucracy.  The new head of State had emphasized the importance of generating enough revenue to ensure government self-sufficiency, the importance of private enterprise, encouraging investment by foreigners and the Afghan diaspora, and of cracking down on corruption and bribery.

Mr. Karzai had also noted the need for an ethnically balanced national army, an intelligence service operating within the law and an independent, corruption-free judicial system, he said.  Most important, he had insisted that all commanders and warlords must come under the Ministry of Defence.  Mr. Karzai hoped to announce the final composition of his cabinet in the next few days.

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*     The 4556th Meeting was closed.

However, a deterioration of security in some parts of Afghanistan had overshadowed the generally positive developments in Kabul, he said.  In the north, armed attacks and robberies had been carried out against international aid organizations, the most serious being the gang rape of an international aid worker.  In addition, a clinic run by an international aid organization and a vehicle belonging to an international aid non-governmental organization had been fired upon.

He said that Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, had requested strong and urgent government intervention with local parties to secure conditions for humanitarian work and to ask him to ensure that those responsible were held accountable.  Mr. Brahimi had also met with the leaders of the three main northern factions to make the same demand.

If the security situation continued to deteriorate, aid agencies might cut operations in the north, he said.  As the army would not be able to provide security in the near future, the Council and nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) might consider a limited expansion of that force to areas outside Kabul.

Addressing the reconstruction and development in Afghanistan, he said UNAMA and agencies continued to make progress in developing a coherent strategy, but noted a worrying decline in donor funding for Afghanistan.  Already, many organizations, among them the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), had been forced to scale back or halt operations because of funding shortfalls.

Before adjourning the meeting, Council President Farouk Al-Sharra, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said the Afghan people had long suffered from war and deserved the international community's utmost efforts in assisting them on its path towards stability and peace.  Hopefully, the results of the Loya Jirga would open a new page in the life of the Afghan people leading towards their country's reconstruction and development.

The meeting began at 10:49 a.m., and adjourned at 11:11 a.m.

Statement by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

KIERAN PRENDERGAST, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the emergency Loya Jirga could be considered a success on three counts.  That it had been held at all was a success in itself, given the enormous challenges involved in organizing the event, securing the site and transporting the delegates to Kabul in time and in secure conditions.  However, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) would have to seek the further understanding of donors since not all the sums pledged to the budget of the Special Independent Commission had been paid into the Loya Jirga trust fund.

He said the second success was the fact that the Loya Jirga had accomplished its mandate under the Bonn Agreement, which called for the election of a head of State for the Transitional Administration and the approval of its structure and key personnel.  Mr. Karzai had been elected and his cabinet approved by the assembly.

The third and most important success was the fact that Afghans from every region, ethnicity, educational level and occupation had ultimately agreed on fundamental questions regarding their political future, he said.  The Loya Jirga offered a truly representative sample of Afghan society, even despite some doubts about the legitimacy of the presence of some delegates.

He said the bureau of the Loya Jirga and UNAMA had documented several cases of intimidation, which had been brought to the attention of the Afghan Government.  It was vital that the authorities highlight and address instances where democratic rights had been abused by those who still equated power with force and violence.  Far too often force had been the only authority.  However, in only a small number of cases had intimidation actually been established, with the reports reflecting the fear and insecurity prevailing in many parts of the country because the rule of law had not yet been firmly established.

The Loya Jirga, convened on 11 June, had elected Mr. Karzai by 1,295 of the 1,575 delegates who had cast their votes, he said.  A woman, Massoud Jalal, had been the second-place finisher, the first time in Afghan history that had happened.  As the new head of State, Mr. Karzai was required to submit for endorsement by the assembly proposals on the structure of the Transitional Administration and its key personalities, but because of flaws in the management of the Loya Jirga proceedings, there had been some confusion among delegates about how their approval would be secured.

He said the truly contentious issue, left unresolved, had been the question of how a legislature should be formed.  However, overlooked in the highly publicized disputes and bitterness of that issue was an encouraging reformist vision presented by Mr. Karzai.  In his acceptance speech on 13 June, he had made proposals concerning national commissions on national defence, national security, foreign investment and return of property among others.  His vision included a lean government structure focusing on the people rather than maintaining a heavy bureaucracy.

Mr. Karzai had emphasized the importance of generating enough revenue for the Government to be self-sufficient, he said.  Customs duty would be used as the prime source of income to fund the civil service and the Government.  He had stressed the importance of private enterprise, of encouraging investment from foreigners and the Afghan diaspora, and of cracking down on corruption and bribery.  He had also noted the need to ensure that donor aid was disbursed effectively.

He said Mr. Karzai had noted the need for an ethnically balanced national army that was accountable to the State, an intelligence service operating within the law and an independent judicial system free of corruption.  Most important, he had insisted that all commanders and warlords must come under the Ministry of Defence.  Mr. Karzai had explained, however, that a lean government was not easy at this stage in the history of Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai hoped to announce the final composition of his cabinet in the next few days, he said.  The selection could not entirely avoid the political realities of Afghanistan, an imperative that seemed to have been recognized by the Loya Jirga.  Nonetheless, there was likely to be some discontent.  A vast amount of work lay ahead, and it was hoped that the cabinet would focus on its administrative and governance functions.

He said the generally positive developments in Kabul had been overshadowed by a deterioration of security in some parts of Afghanistan.  On the eve of the final day of the Loya Jirga, several rockets had been launched into Kabul.  While nobody had been injured, it was a reminder that security was not guaranteed.  In the north, a number of armed attacks and robberies had occurred against international aid organizations, the most serious being the gang rape of an international aid worker.  In addition, a clinic run by an international aid organization and a vehicle belonging to an international aid non-governmental organization had been fired upon.

Those attacks were a worrying departure from the generally hospitable attitude of Afghans over the past decade, he said.  Mr. Brahimi had written to

Mr. Karzai to request strong and urgent intervention with local parties to secure conditions for humanitarian work and to ask him to ensure that those responsible were held accountable under the law.  Mr. Brahimi had also met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, General Atta Mohammed and Haji Mohammed Muhaqiq, the leaders of the three main northern factions, to make the same demand.

Mr. Brahimi had met with several leaders of northern factions to demand intervention, but Mr. Prendergast noted that previous interventions with local authorities had not been met with success.  If security situation continued to deteriorate, aid agencies might cut operations in the north.  It was vital that in the coming months the international community should assist the Afghan Government to bring its authority to bear on insecure areas, but the army would not be able to provide security in the near future.  The contributing nations to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Council might again wish to consider a limited expansion of ISAF to areas outside Kabul.

He expressed gratitude for the professionalism and dedication of the United Kingdom as it had completed handover of the ISAF leadership to Turkey yesterday.  The ISAF, in cooperation with Afghan forces, had done a superb job in providing

security for the Loya Jirga and had been a model of international cooperation.  The ISAF would have an equally positive impact if deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan.

Addressing the reconstruction and development in Afghanistan, he said progress continued to be made by UNAMA and agencies in developing a coherent strategy.  He hoped to provide a briefing on assistance activities in the near future, but noted the worrying decline of donor funding for Afghanistan.  Already, many organizations, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), had been forced to scale back or halt operations because of funding shortfalls.

The plans and hopes mapped out six months ago at Bonn had become the realities of today, he concluded.  New tasks lay ahead in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement.  He urged the international community to continue to assist the Afghans and support the United Nations as it had done so far.

      The President of the Security Council, FAROUK AL-SHARRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said the Afghan people had long suffered from war and deserved assistance from the international community, which should do its utmost to assist the Afghan people on its path towards stability and peace.  He hoped that the results of the Loya Jirga would open a new page in the life of the Afghan people towards the country’s reconstruction and development.

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For information media. Not an official record.