SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES $8.2 BILLION COMMITMENT FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION, STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVED SECURITY FOR FREE, CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

6 April 2004
SC/8053

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES $8.2 BILLION COMMITMENT FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION, STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVED SECURITY FOR FREE, CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

06/04/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8053

Security Council                                           

4941st Meeting (AM)                                         

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES $8.2 BILLION COMMITMENT FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION,

STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVED SECURITY FOR FREE, CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

Presidential Statement Endorses Berlin Conference;

Council Told Results Exceeded Even Optimistic Expectations

The Security Council today welcomed the commitment of $8.2 billion over the next three years for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, made at the Berlin Conference, held on 31 March and 1 April.

In a statement read out by its President, Gunter Pleuger (Germany), the Council also endorsed the Berlin Declaration and stressed the relevance of the work plan of the Afghan Government, the progress report and the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics, annexed to the Berlin Declaration. 

In addition, the Council welcomed President Hamid Karzai’s announcement to hold direct presidential and parliamentary elections by September of this year.  It stressed the importance of a secure environment for free, fair and credible democratic elections, and that to that end further efforts of the Government and of the international community were needed. 

Mr. Pleuger, speaking in his national capacity, also briefed the Council on the Berlin Conference, whose specific and measurable results, he said, exceeded even optimistic expectations.  The Berlin Declaration, as the final communiqué of the Conference, described the vision of the future Afghanistan.  The work plan drawn up by the Afghan Government showed how Afghanistan wanted to approach that vision in the coming two years, while the progress report endorsed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) summarized the implementation status of the Bonn Agreement.

Also, he continued, the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics agreed upon among Afghanistan and its neighbours was not only a major contribution to combating narcotics, but also a further boost to viable regional cooperation after Afghanistan’s years of isolation.  In addition, the Afghan Government had established a timetable for the next steps in the political transformation process.

At the same time, he added, the Afghan Government had committed itself to an ambitious timetable to disarm militias as a significant condition for free and fair elections.  It had also presented a detailed programme of work consisting of short-term goals for institution-building and development processes that were concretely verifiable.  That was Afghanistan’s major political contribution to the Conference.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno warned that without improvements in security, the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan would be threatened.  The vast majority of Afghans remained convinced that elections required proper disarmament, and the fighting that had broken out in Herat two weeks ago underscored the threat that factional rivalries posed to credible, free and fair elections.

Noting that the Berlin Conference had highlighted the challenge of the drug economy, he said Afghanistan’s 2003 opium production, estimated at 3,600 tonnes, had been grown on 800,000 hectares.  It would represent a further increase above the already high 2002 figure that had generated over half of Afghanistan’s national income.  Turning back that tide would take a concerted effort and patience, but the immediate efforts of the Afghan Government on the eradication front must also be supported.

Speakers in the Council today were confident that the Berlin Conference would be regarded as a milestone in the political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.  It served, they stated, as a reaffirmation of the lasting partnership between Afghanistan and the international community in rebuilding that war-torn nation.  The peace process was at a crucial stage with the recent adoption of a new Constitution and the announcement of upcoming elections in September.  The primary concern in that regard, it was agreed, was ensuring security for credible elections.

While the money pledged was substantial, noted the representative of the United Kingdom, money was not the whole story.  The challenge was using that money.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must take place before the elections and must take place quickly.  Security was critical for continued progress in establishing a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ireland’s representative agreed that the provision of security remained absolutely critical to everything the Afghan Transitional Administration and its international partners were trying to achieve.  The expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was a demonstration of the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan and would play a key role in assisting the Transitional Administration in providing security for the electoral process. 

He added that the people of Afghanistan, however, also experienced insecurity as a result of weak rule of law, the absence of an effective national police force and army, and the spread of opium production, which fuelled crime and corruption.  Afghanistan’s efforts, in partnership with lead nations, to address those issues must be supported by the entire international community.

Also speaking today were the representative of Brazil, United States, China, Pakistan, Chile, Algeria, Romania, Spain, Philippines, Benin, Russian Federation, France, Angola, Afghanistan, Japan and India.

The meeting, which began at 10:12 a.m., adjourned at 12:42 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan.

Statements

JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted that the full achievements of the Berlin Conference would only be felt if the international community capitalized on the momentum of Berlin to ensure that the peace process received the necessary support.  The tasks still facing Afghanistan remained daunting.

The Conference had highlighted the challenge of what the Secretary-General had called “the rising tide” of the drug economy, he said.  Afghanistan’s 2003 opium production, estimated at 3,600 tonnes grown on 800,000 hectares, would represent a further increase above the already high 2002 figure that had generated over half of Afghanistan’s national income.  Turning back that tide would take a concerted effort and patience, but the immediate efforts of the Afghan Government on the eradication front must also be supported.

He stressed the pressing demands facing Afghanistan if the country was to achieve national elections.  The Government had undertaken a number of steps to ensure freedom of expression and political organization, a level playing field for political parties and their candidates, a neutral civil service and military, freedom of the press and equal access to it.

However, the vast majority of Afghans remained convinced that, above all, elections required proper disarmament, he said.  The fighting that had broken out in Herat two weeks ago underscored the threat posed by factional rivalries to the exercise of credible, free and fair elections.  If factional military forces continued to be a dominating feature of the political scene, they were bound to curtail the political liberties necessary for truly civilian politics and a credible election.  They must not be allowed to do so.

Without improvement in the security situation, the election would be threatened, he warned, underscoring the need for adequate security assistance for the Afghan Government’s efforts, as well as support for the election process, protection against factional threats and from the more radical attempts to oppose the process.  It was hoped that the Afghan National Army would be able to involve itself in deterring factional violence and supervising the cantonment of heavy weapons.  By June, the newly trained units of the Ministry of Interior could also be deployed in larger numbers to help create an environment more conducive to the free operation of parties and independent candidates.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), speaking in his national capacity, briefed the Council on the Berlin Conference, which took place from 31 March to 1 April and whose title was, “Afghanistan and the International Community –- a Partnership for the Future”.  The presence of 65 delegations, including all European Union, Group of 8 and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) States, as well as Afghanistan’s neighbours and other particularly interested countries at the event, many at the foreign minister level, underlined the continued international commitment to create a secure, stable, free, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.  At the same time, Afghanistan’s ownership had clearly increased, as demonstrated not only by the Afghan role as a co-host and co-chair of the Conference, but also by Afghanistan’s input and extensive commitments, announced by President Hamid Karzai in his opening speech, who himself was leading the Afghan delegation.

The Berlin Conference produced specific and measurable results which exceeded even optimistic expectations, he said.  The extensive final documents described in detail the further path ahead:  the Berlin Declaration, as the final communiqué of the Conference, described the vision of the future new Afghanistan; the work plan, drawn up by the Afghan Government, showed how Afghanistan wanted to approach that vision in the coming two years, while the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan-endorsed Progress Report summarized the implementation status of the Bonn Agreement.

Also, he continued, the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics was an agreement between Afghanistan and its neighbours, which was not only a major contribution to combating narcotics, but also a further boost to viable regional cooperation after years of isolation for Afghanistan.  In addition, the Afghan Government had established a timetable for the next steps in the political transformation process.  President Karzai announced at the Conference that parallel elections for the presidency, as well as for the lower house of Parliament, would be held in September.

At the same time, he added, the Afghan Government committed itself to an ambitious timetable for the disarmament of militias as a significant condition for free and fair elections.  In return, financing for the elections was largely secured through a separate pledging by the major donors.  Furthermore, the Government presented a detailed programme of work; a “work plan” consisting of mainly short-term goals for institution-building and development processes that were concretely verifiable.  That was Afghanistan’s major political contribution to the Conference.

The Berlin Conference was also successful from the pledging perspective, he stated.  The international donor community made pledges for Afghanistan in the total amount of $8.2 billion for the next three years (2004-2006), of which    $4.4 billion was earmarked for the current Afghan fiscal year.  The long-term investment programme put forth by the Afghan Government, “Securing Afghanistan’s Future”, which had calculated a need for foreign aid in the amount of $28 billion for a period of seven years, was thereby fully financed for Afghanistan’s current fiscal year.  As set out in the Berlin Declaration, the further implementation of that investment programme would depend on achieving the objectives set by the Afghan Government itself.

Concerning the provision of security, all participants appreciated the role of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Enduring Freedom.  Both ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom were ready to assist in securing the forthcoming elections.  The prominent role played by NATO in Afghanistan was underlined by the participation of its Secretary-General at the Conference.  In the Berlin Declaration, NATO had committed itself to the establishment of five Provincial Reconstruction Teams by this summer and further teams thereafter.

He was confident that the Conference would be regarded as a milestone in the political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.  Beyond that, he was convinced that the reaffirmation of a lasting partnership between Afghanistan and the international community reflected a promising model for a common endeavour of the international community in nation-building and in its fight against terrorism.  Those remarkable results deserved an explicit acknowledgement and endorsement by the Security Council, and he hoped that a presidential statement could be adopted at the end of today’s meeting.

HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said that the amount of announced funds would be decisive in the effort of rebuilding the country’s economy and infrastructure.  The international commitment was being matched by the transitional authorities’ serious and tireless work.  In that context, the importance of the work plan presented in Berlin by President Karzai could not be overemphasized.  It lay down a comprehensive set of objectives that would guide government action in key areas such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, combating drugs and voter registration.  The international community must do its best to support President Karzai and his Government in implementing that plan.

He welcomed the announcement to hold nationwide elections next September.  Truly representative and credible elections in Afghanistan were essential for building a democratic, participative society.  The work plan of the Afghan Government rightly focused not only on the holding of elections, but also on issues such as security, exercise of political rights, civic education and logistics, which were fundamental for creating political and security conditions conducive to free and fair elections.

The expansion of peacekeeping forces throughout Afghanistan would bolster security in the country, he noted.  Expansion on the ground was critical to halting the deterioration of the overall situation and preventing the recurrence of recent violent incidents.  Enhanced security was not only a requirement for the success of reconstruction efforts, but also a precondition for democratic, fair and peaceful elections in September.  He welcomed the announced deployment of additional Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which would play a vital role in improving security and rebuilding infrastructure in the most distant regions of the country, as well as in ensuring the safe conduct of the electoral process.

He also noted with satisfaction that the Afghan Government proposed integrated strategies to tackle the drug problem, based on the combat of drug-related organized crime, promotion of alternative livelihoods, reduction of demand and the strengthening of the rule of law.  The Berlin Counter-Narcotics Declaration marked the confirmation and strengthening of the agreement of Afghanistan and its neighbours to work together in the fight against drug trafficking.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that the generosity demonstrated by the international community was a hopeful sign for the people of Afghanistan.  Recognizing that additional funds were still needed for the upcoming elections, the United States urged the United Nations to work with the Afghan people and the international community to bring down the overall costs.

He said that United States and coalition forces were conducting reconstruction efforts throughout the country.  They were also undertaking security measures to combat Taliban forces.  The total operational strength of the new national army now under training had reached some 7,600 troops and the goal of a 10,000-member army could be achieved by the end of June.

Regarding the training of the new national police force, he said 20,000 police officers would have been trained and equipped by the end of the year.  In addition, the Kabul police training facility had already been completed and the capacity of similar facilities in other cities had been extended.

WANG GUANGYA (China) said that the Declaration and its annexes, adopted in Berlin, had embodied and reaffirmed the commitment of the Afghan transitional authorities and people to turn the country into a country of peace, stability and development.  It also confirmed the international community’s commitment to help rebuild the country.  In the two years since the Bonn Agreement, the peace process in Afghanistan had achieved positive progress.  At present, that peace process was at a crucial stage.  He welcomed the announcement of the Government to hold presidential and legislative elections in September.  He hoped that through free and fair elections a broad-based government could be established.  He supported the Afghan Government’s efforts to improve the security situation, accelerate security sector reform and further disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  He hoped all factions would join efforts to build a better future for Afghanistan.

Peace and development in Afghanistan could not be achieved without the support of the international community, he said.  He expressed appreciation and support for the important role of the United Nations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).  To promote the development of the peace process and ensure the successful conduct of general elections, the international community should make good on their commitments made in Berlin and strengthen assistance for security in Afghanistan.  He hoped the ISAF could expand its scope of deployment as soon as possible and establish new Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

China, as a friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, had always supported the peace process in that country.  In 2002, his Government had committed to provide Afghanistan with $150 million in five years.  At Berlin, China had committed    $15 million of free aid and $1 million as emergency assistance for the general elections, as well as pledged to write off all debt due to it by the Afghan Government.  Also during the Conference, China signed, with other countries of the region, the Counter-Narcotics Declaration. 

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that his country’s Foreign Minister, who had had participated actively in the Berlin Conference, had been highly satisfied with the outcome.  The Conference had reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to rebuild the country’s structures, with the aim of offering all Afghans the prospect for a brighter future.

He said that, while security was ultimately the responsibility of the Afghan people themselves, it could not be achieved without the support of the international community.  Pakistan was pleased with the decision by NATO to extend the mandate of ISAF.

The Berlin Declaration had identified drug production as a serious threat, he noted.  The Conference had endorsed the concrete steps intended to combat that threat and Pakistan endorsed those steps.  The drug menace was a problem not only for Afghanistan, but also for its neighbours and the world, and it was, therefore, fitting that the international community do everything to reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat.  The Government of Pakistan had allocated $5 million to enable Afghan refugees in Pakistan to take part in the elections, he added.

Peace would not come to Afghanistan without development, which must remain the focus of the international community, he said.  Though it was landlocked, the country could emerge as a transit route linking South Asia and Central Asia.  Pakistan encouraged the international community to support the construction of roads, as well as oil and gas pipelines to boost its economic development and regional integration.  Pakistan hoped the international community would not flag in its support for Afghanistan, which would need years, if not decades, of support.  The Berlin Conference was only the beginning.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said that the contents of the work plan were clear guidelines for the establishment of a free, democratic, and hopefully, prosperous Afghanistan.  He valued the commitment of donors to provide assistance, as well as the commitment of NATO to expand security throughout the country through the deployment of more Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  He also welcomed the announcement of general and presidential elections in September.

It was obvious that a great deal remained to be done, he said.  It was essential to have a national campaign for voter registration.  The elections would be a milestone in restoring harmony throughout the country.  In that context, he support the plan put forward by the Government for, among other things, the success of elections and the demobilization of armed groups.  It was necessary to have NATO support in connection with security.  He supported the work of the Afghan police and national army, both of which must be ethnically balanced and respect the rule of law.

He welcomed the commitment of Afghanistan to press forward with its development process, especially reform of the fiscal system, socio-economic development, strengthening the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights.  An environment of security was essential to achieve economic growth, reconstruction and development.  He also believed that drug trafficking was a serious threat to the development and recovery of Afghanistan, and the Security Council must support action plans in that regard.  He supported the contents of the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics.  He also supported the presidential statement to be adopted at the end of the meeting.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that many challenges remained to be met in Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of security and increased trafficking in drugs.  The Berlin Conference had provided for an appraisal of the critical process that had followed the adoption of the Constitution in January, as well as allowing the international community to appraise the benchmarks set for the recovery and stabilization process.

He welcomed Afghanistan’s commitment to carry out a work plan to establish democratic institutions, as well as President Karzai’s commitment to political reform.  The Afghan people and their leaders must work together to strengthen their country’s institutions and to hold democratic elections.  Afghanistan would have a number of challenges to meet in the future and it was hoped that the support they would need would be provided, especially the key aim of establishing security throughout the country.  Algeria fully supported the draft presidential statement.

MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) welcomed the work plan adopted by the Afghan Government.  The concrete steps envisaged should be regarded as part of a wider strategy for overall reform of Afghan society.  To be successful, the implementation of the work plan should evolve gradually from a theoretical exercise into a useful, practical tool for the Afghan administration.  He strongly encouraged the Afghan authorities to closely monitor the implementation of the objectives and deadlines assumed.  In addition, he commended the adoption by Afghanistan and its neighbours of the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics.  Translating the Berlin Declaration into tangible results required not only steady political commitment, but equally substantial financial support.  In that context, he welcomed the significant multi-year financial contributions pledged by international donors in Berlin.

The Romanian Foreign Minister reiterated in BerlinRomania’s commitment for long-term, solid and multidimensional contribution in Afghanistan.  Romania was committed to the success of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, and would continue to consider taking part in additional Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  Improving security remained the key prerequisite for the benchmarks ahead, including the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in September.  Additional military from Romania would be deployed in Afghanistan as part of the reinforcement of his country’s participation in ISAF.  It would also continue contributing to the capacity building of the Afghan national armed forces.

His country was also determined to assist the Afghan authorities in fighting drug production and trafficking.  In that regard, his Government was considering a pilot project aimed at providing Afghan farmers with alternative crops.

ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain), supporting the European Union statement to be made by the representative of Ireland, said her country welcomed the extension of security throughout the country and cooperation with neighbouring States.  Spain was prepared to shoulder its responsibilities within the European Union and ISAF, and would soon be doubling its contribution.  Spain also supported the draft presidential statement.

LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that a credible, fully participatory election process would be critical to the full recognition of the Government that would be installed.  Thus, it was crucial to ensure the security of both the registration and election processes.  Strengthening the Afghan army and police forces may not be sufficient and the establishment of more Provincial Reconstruction Teams in critical areas controlled by warlords would be important. 

Sending soldiers to stay in villages and towns could give them an understanding of the local people and eventually win the cooperation of local warlords and villagers, he said.  The full disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme scheduled to be completed before the elections in September would also contribute to the security and credibility of the election process.  Given the nature of factional power in Afghanistan, greater efforts must be exerted to deal with local disputes.

Another destabilizing factor was the serious problem of extensive poppy cultivation and all its consequences, as well as the danger of Afghanistan turning into a narco-State, he said.  The Philippines particularly welcomed the steps taken by Afghanistan and its neighbours as incorporated in its recent declaration to fight drugs and the assistance extended by other countries to develop viable economic alternatives to poppy cultivation.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that the praiseworthy efforts taken by the leadership of Afghanistan to implement the Bonn Agreement deserved to be supported by the international community.  He particularly welcomed the multi-year nature of the pledges made in Berlin, which would enable Afghanistan to maintain the momentum of government programmes.  He welcomed the work plan adopted in Berlin, which set forth clear steps to be taken.  The decision of President Karzai to hold presidential and legislative elections in September, instead of June, was a responsible choice.  He urged the international community to support preparations for that popular vote and help create the necessary security conditions required for that process.

The Afghan Government had a major responsibility in terms of disarming armed groups to improve the security situation, he said.  The issue of disarmament must be addressed to ensure credible elections and ensure the viability of the political process.  The Government was correct in working with neighbouring countries to address that issue.  He supported the Declaration on Counter-Narcotics and would work to assist Afghanistan on its path towards peace and progress.

ALEXANDER KNUZIN (Russian Federation) welcomed the outcome of the Berlin Conference, including the final Declaration, as an important and timely step.  His Government had consistently advocated the convening of that conference as a way to reform the policy of rebuilding Afghanistan under United Nations auspices as a peaceful, independent and neutral State living in harmony with its neighbours.

However, he said, despite the successes achieved in consolidating central authority and achieving security, there was still cause for concern, including the growing subversive efforts by the Taliban and other forces to plunge the country into internecine conflict.  There was a need for a truly universal coalition to combat those efforts.

Expressing his country’s support for efforts to destroy drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan, he said that with the growing production of opium and heroin, couriers were using Russian territory as a transit corridor into European States.  There was a need for effective measures to stop the trafficking and to establish security belts along the Afghan border.

ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said that the outcome of the Berlin Conference successfully reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan at a moment when it was needed.  He welcomed the announcement of elections in September and the targets set out in the work plan on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  The money pledged was substantial, he noted.  His Government, for its part, had raised its Tokyo pledge to £500 million over five years.  It had also contributed £10.5 million towards the preparations for elections.  In addition, it had contributed some £70 million, over three years, towards counter-narcotics efforts. 

But money was not the whole story, he said.  The challenge was using that money.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must take place before the elections and must take place quickly.  Security was critical for continued progress.  It was necessary to encourage partners to look at ways to contribute to security efforts, whether through Provincial Reconstruction Teams or troop contributions to ISAF.  In addition to the Provincial Reconstruction Team that his country led in Mazar-i-Sharif, the United Kingdom had offered to lead a second Team, as well as establish a support base for ISAF’s expansion to the north of the country.

On the drug situation, he said that successfully tackling that issue was also critical to Afghanistan’s future.  It was going to take a long-term sustainable approach and require others getting involved.  He welcomed the endorsement by the Berlin Conference of the Afghan-led national drug control strategy and the outcome of the February counter-narcotics conference.  He also welcomed the signing of the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics.  Afghanistan and its partners were now focusing on implementation of that strategy.  Donors must be urged to commit to specific activities within the action plan.  He also supported and welcomed the statement to be adopted at the end of today’s meeting.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France), associating himself with the European Union, said the Berlin Conference had shown the international community’s readiness to help the Afghan people in the long term.  It was an important time, because of the choice by the country’s leadership to undertake political reform.

Noting that the production and trafficking of drugs continued to threaten Afghanistan, the region as well as European countries, he said alternatives to opium production must be found and the right development alternatives must also be found.

Stressing the importance of security, he said his country was committed to playing its part in training the Afghan national army.  It had trained three battalions and was now training 300 officers.  France would be continuing its commitment to the ISAF and would continue to help in dismantling the last Taliban networks that continued to make Afghanistan fragile.

Regarding the elections, he said France would train members of the electoral commission and provide electoral support for the process.  It was hoped that the election would provide an important opportunity for participation, particularly by Afghan women.

ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that the rebuilding of any nation devastated by war was a slow and complex process.  It was only possible with strong international assistance, which was an essential component of that process.  He commended Germany and other organizers for the successful outcome of the Berlin Conference, which was a remarkable step forward and a great opportunity for the international community to reiterate its commitment to Afghanistan.  He expressed full support for the outcome of the Conference, especially the multi-year commitments made and the $8.2 billion pledged.  Since the Tokyo Conference, leadership and ownership of the reconstruction process was progressively taken over by Afghan authorities.  That was essential for the sustainability of the entire process.

Afghanistan had reached a crucial stage in the implementation of the Bonn process, with the adoption of the new Constitution, he said.  He was pleased that the Afghan authorities had set a date for the elections and welcomed the readiness of ISAF to secure the conduct of those elections.  Further commitments of the international community were indispensable to the achievement of such an important goal.  Much remained to be done, despite progress in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process.

The security situation continued to be of concern, he noted.  The main factors in the deterioration of security had been identified.  He stressed the importance of Security Council resolution 1510 and the commitment of NATO to expand ISAF’s mission by establishing further Provincial Reconstruction Teams by summer 2004.  If the State was to function, the central Government’s authority must be expanded throughout the country.  An effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process must take place.  He was pleased that the international community had focused considerable attention to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, which were complex and required considerable financial resources.

The resurgence of extremist forces was a further danger, he warned.  That problem, as well as the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics, must be dealt with.  He welcomed the adoption of the counter-narcotics Declaration in Berlin.  He also supported the statement to be adopted at the end of today’s meeting.

RAVAN FARHADI (Afghanistan) expressed his gratitude to those who had supported the Afghan people in preserving their independence.  Since the conclusion of the Bonn Agreement it had been proven that success was possible.  Among the achievements of the past two years had been the adoption of the Constitution in January, which provided the foundation for the upcoming elections.

He said the Berlin Declaration indicated the continued and sustained support of the international community for Afghanistan’s security and economic development.  The pledges made at Berlin, amounting to approximately $8.2 billion, would keep the country on track towards development and stability.

On security, he said the expansion of ISAF would strengthen security ahead of elections and help demobilize former combatants.  On drugs, the Conference had provided an opportunity to Afghanistan and its neighbours to reaffirm their commitment to combating the threat.  Afghanistan reiterated its people’s commitment to rebuild their country and to establish peace, security and stability.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Berlin Conference was a clear demonstration of the unprecedented cooperation between the Transitional Administration, the United Nations and the international community in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.  The work plan presented by President Karzai in Berlin would ensure that a functioning democracy was the only way ahead for Afghanistan.  The Union had been and would continue to be one of the major partners and donors backing Afghanistan’s reconstruction, he said.  As an indication of its commitment, the combined contribution for 2004 from the European Commission and the Union’s member States totalled some €700 million.

The provision of security remained absolutely critical to everything the Afghan Transitional Administration and its international partners were trying to achieve, he said.  The expansion of ISAF was a demonstration of the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan and would play a key role in assisting the Transitional Administration in providing security for the electoral process.  Individual Union countries continued to make very significant commitments to providing for Afghanistan’s security through participation in ISAF and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, as well as serving alongside their allies under Operation Enduring Freedom.

He added that the people of Afghanistan, however, also experienced insecurity as a result of weak rule of law; the absence of an effective national police force and army, and the spread of opium production, which fuelled crime and corruption.  Afghanistan’s efforts, in partnership with lead nations, to address those issues must be supported by the entire international community. 

The election and formation of a fully representative government should be a priority for all parties in Afghanistan, he said.  The announcement by President Karzai that elections would be held in September was a positive development.  Also, he welcomed the Afghan Transitional Administration’s commitment to meet its obligations under international human rights law and the progress to date.  It was important that the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission remain independent, with proper financial and political support and with its mandate clearly articulated in law.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) stressed that the reinforcement of the political process, a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and reconstruction and the establishment and nationwide expansion of security were closely linked, and should be addressed in a comprehensive manner.

He said President Karzai’s formal announcement of presidential and parliamentary elections had made the Berlin Conference an opportunity to accelerate the preparation process even further.  All the necessary tasks should be expeditiously carried out in the coming months, including overcoming delays in voter registration and in preparations to provide overseas Afghans with voting opportunities and mobilizing the resources necessary for the successful implementation of the elections.

Regarding security, he welcomed the international community’s determination to assist in further stabilization efforts, not only in Kabul and some provincial cities, but throughout the entire country, specifically through the deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, in order to restore security and contribute to reconstruction and development.  Japan, together with UNAMA, had been leading the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and as of mid-February, the programme’s pilot phase had disarmed and demobilized more than 5,500 ex-combatants.

On drug production and trafficking, he stressed that enforcement alone would not solve the problem.  An integrated approach was required involving the simultaneous implementation of measures to introduce alternative crops and to promote the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of regional groups engaged in drug production.  In that connection, the importance of agricultural and rural development could not be overemphasized.

VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said that the Berlin Conference provided an opportunity to further consolidate the gains achieved by facilitating elections, strengthening security and political institutions and providing the requisite basis for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.  He welcomed President Karzai’s announcement of presidential and parliamentary elections in September.  After decades of conflict and destruction, it would take time and patience for a fully functioning democracy to take root in Afghanistan.  Consolidation and extension of central authority required a broad-based governmental process, and the country must be free from outside interference.

The international community’s approach to Afghanistan had to be realistic and must take into account the complexities and difficulties on the ground, he said.  Forward movement in the electoral exercise would depend much on progress in voter registration.  A balance between speed and stability was essential for the success of the political process.  Realism also demanded a degree of flexibility in dealing with the situation.

Despite the continuing threat assessment, the Secretary-General’s latest report and the statement of the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in his briefing to the Council on 24 March, made scant reference to security threats by Taliban or Al Qaeda terrorists, preferring to attribute such actions to “extremists”.  He wanted to understand the reasons for downplaying such threats, particularly in the south and south-east of the country.  It would not be incorrect to say that the steady dilution of reporting on Afghanistan over the past year or so had not always been fully consistent with the position on the ground.  The reports of the Secretariat must be objective, far more discerning and reflective of the ground realities.

India’s financial commitments for Afghanistan’s reconstruction would add up to around $400 million, he noted.  Its programme of economic assistance in Afghanistan was guided by Afghan priorities and ownership.  It was vital, he stressed, that the expressions of support made at Berlin be given practical dimension in the critical months ahead.

Mr. GUEHENNO, noting that security had many facets, said the threat posed by Al Qaida and the Taliban remained a major concern.  It was unfortunately clear that the question of factionalism was also important for the stabilization of Afghanistan, as illustrated by recent events in Herat.

He said that without the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, the strength of Afghanistan would be considerably undermined.  It was necessary that the international community work on several fronts.

Presidential Statement

The Council President, Mr. PLEUGER (Germany), then read out the following statement to be issued as S/PRST/2004/9:

“The Security Council welcomes the results of the Berlin Conference on Afghanistan, held on 31 March and 1 April 2004, co-chaired by the United Nations, Afghanistan, Germany and Japan.  The Council thanks Afghanistan and Germany for jointly hosting this event, an important milestone on the way to a secure, stable, free, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

“The Council expresses its full support for the commitment of Afghanistan and the international community to successfully complete the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and to continue the transition process in Afghanistan through a lasting partnership, thus, reflecting a model for a common endeavour of the international community in its fight against terrorism.

“The Security Council endorses the Berlin Declaration and stresses the relevance of the Workplan of the Afghan Government, the Progress Report and the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics, annexed to the Berlin Declaration, and welcomes the significant financial multiyear commitments made by the international donor community.

“The Security Council in particular expresses full support for the commitment by the Government of Afghanistan to pursue the necessary reform steps and actions as outlined in the Workplan.

“The Security Council welcomes the announcement of President Karzai to hold direct presidential and parliamentary elections by September of this year.  The Council stresses the importance of a secure environment for free, fair and credible democratic elections, and that to this end further efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and of the international community are needed.

“The Security Council welcomes in this regard the decision taken by the President of Afghanistan to implement vigorously the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme, in particular to intensify it ahead of the 2004 elections, and to continue the formation of the Afghan National Army and the National Police.

“The Council also acknowledges the commitment by NATO to expand the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by establishing five additional Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) by summer 2004 and further PRTs thereafter, as well as the readiness of ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom to assist in securing the conduct of elections.

“The Security Council welcomes the commitments totalling US$ 8.2 bn for the fiscal years March 2004 – March 2007 made by participants at the Berlin Conference for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and stresses the importance with increasing absorption capacity for a growing share of this assistance to be channelled through the Afghan budget as direct budget support or as contributions to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and to the Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA).

“The Security Council stresses that opium poppy cultivation, drug production and trafficking pose a serious threat to the rule of law and development in Afghanistan as well as to international security, and that therefore Afghanistan and the international community shall endeavour to reduce and eventually eliminate this threat, including through the development of economic alternatives.  The Council reiterates the importance of increased cooperation among neighbouring States and countries along trafficking routes to strengthen anti-narcotic controls.

“The Security Council takes note of the appeal of President Karzai at the Berlin Conference for additionally needed international support in countering narcotics.  The Council refers in this context to the necessary implementation of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy and the Counter-Narcotics Action Plans in the areas of law enforcement, judicial reform, alternative livelihoods, demand reduction and public awareness.  The Security Council calls upon Member States to support the implementation of these Action Plans.  Afghanistan needs both human and financial resources to tackle this problem.

“The Security Council welcomes in particular the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics within the Framework of the Kabul Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration, signed by Afghanistan and its neighbours, as well as the planned Conference on Regional Police Cooperation to be held in Doha on May 18 and 19.

“The Security Council invites the Secretary-General to include in his future reports to the Security Council and the General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan, in addition to the information on implementation of the Bonn Agreement, chapters on progress achieved in the implementation of the Berlin Declaration, the Workplan of the Afghan Government and in the promotion of regional and international cooperation with Afghanistan.

“The Security Council reaffirms its full support for the actions taken by the SRSG and UNAMA and reiterates the central and impartial role of the United Nations in the international efforts to assist the Afghan people in consolidating peace in Afghanistan and rebuilding their country.

“The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.”

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For information media. Not an official record.