TOP UN OFFICIAL IN AFGHANISTAN CALLS ON COUNTRY TO DO ITS UTMOST TO MEET ASSISTANCE COMPACT BENCHMARKS, AS HE BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

14 March 2006
SC/8660

TOP UN OFFICIAL IN AFGHANISTAN CALLS ON COUNTRY TO DO ITS UTMOST TO MEET ASSISTANCE COMPACT BENCHMARKS, AS HE BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

14 March 2006
Security Council
SC/8660
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5385th Meeting (AM)

TOP UN OFFICIAL IN AFGHANISTAN CALLS ON COUNTRY TO DO ITS UTMOST TO MEET

ASSISTANCE COMPACT BENCHMARKS, AS HE BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

Special Representative Urges Continued Generosity, Commitment

By International Community in Next Important Phase of Peace Process

The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today called on that country’s Government to do its utmost to meet the benchmarks set out in a recently adopted framework for further progress in the fledgling democracy, and encouraged the international community to show continuing generosity and commitment in the next important phase of the peace process.

Briefing the Security Council this morning, Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the London Conference on Afghanistan, held on 31 January and 1 February, reaffirmed the strong commitment of the international community to support the country for the next five years and beyond.  As the clock of the Afghanistan Compact started ticking, the first benchmark -- the establishment of a clear and transparent appointments mechanism for senior-level civil service positions -- would need to be met after six months.

He said two priorities would be pivotal to the Compact’s success -- Afghan institutions on all levels must be strengthened, to the point where they were effective enough to deliver basic services; and the strategy for tackling hard security challenges must evolve to meet outstanding threats.  Describing the recent bomb attack in Kabul, directed against former President Mojadeddi, as emblematic of national trends with regard to security, he noted that the winter months of 2005 and 2006 had witnessed a rise in insurgent and terrorist attacks and more sophisticated tactics.  Any resolution of the security challenge would require redoubled international efforts to dismantle terrorist structures that represented a common threat to the security of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The agenda before the Afghan Government and the international community was a heavy one, he noted.  Whereas the Bonn Agreement was centred on the re-establishment of legitimate national institutions, a key challenge under the Afghanistan Compact would be to extend the reach of Government at the local level.  That would require security, development, civil society and private sector actors to be more and more present in areas not yet touched by recovery.

As for the future of the United Nations Mission, he pointed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposals on how UNAMA, having completed its support for the Bonn process, could continue to play a role as a special political mission, providing advice to the Government, in particular with a view to further strengthening State institutions.  The proposals included the possibility of a modest expansion of UNAMA’s field presence to support the Government’s efforts.

During the debate that followed, speakers welcomed the adoption of the Afghanistan Compact, as the “post-Bonn framework for continued international commitment and assistance for the country”.  However, noting the many remaining challenges, they agreed with the need for completing reforms in the security, administrative and justice sectors, as well as for establishing the rule of law and full respect for human rights.  They also expressed grave concern with the escalation of violence, which threatened efforts to implement the Compact as well as the gains achieved thus far.  In that regard, it was hoped that the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the south and east of the country would lead to improved security and facilitate socio-economic development.

France’s representative said the situation in Afghanistan was marked by a paradox; while there had been considerable progress on all fronts, there continued to be a risk of destabilization that could not be precluded.  That was due to an upsurge in insecurity, which was caused by both internal and external reasons.  It manifested itself in acts of terrorism, but was also fuelled by, and rooted in, the presence of armed groups, drug-trafficking networks and the weaknesses of the administration.

The challenges of terrorism and insurgency could be prevented by effective action within Afghanistan, by both Afghan and international coalition forces, Pakistan’s representative said.  To ensure success, the root causes of such violence -- extremism, warlordism, the narcotics trade, local rivalries -- would need to be addressed patiently and sincerely.  The failure to do so could not be externalized.  Certainly, border control was essential to prevent infiltration into Pakistan or Afghanistan of terrorists or violent criminals.  Pakistan had deployed 80,000 troops to do so, on its side, and a matching effort was required on the other side, if the hammer and anvil strategy was to work.

Afghanistan’s representative noted that, despite the successful implementation of the Bonn Agreement, much remained to be done to overcome the remaining challenges confronting his country.  Among them, was the cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs.  In recognition of its responsibility to eradicate the illicit cultivation and production of illicit drugs, Afghanistan had taken a number of measures, and had presented its updated National Drug Control Strategy at the London Conference.  It encompassed the fight against drug trafficking; assistance to farmers through alternative livelihoods; drug demand reduction; and institution-building at the central and provincial levels.

The unabated operation of the narcotics industry, stated Iran’s representative, posed a major threat to achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan, and adversely affected the political and economic reconstruction of the country.  It also endangered the security and stability of the region, especially of the neighbouring countries.  The measures taken by the Afghan Government to contain the threat of narcotic drugs required much improvement.  The magnitude of the drug trade required more concerted and resolute efforts on the part of the Government, and a more responsible approach by the international community, particularly those with a wide military presence in Afghanistan.

Also making statements today were the representatives of Greece, Japan, United Republic of Tanzania, Denmark, China, Slovakia, United States, Russian Federation (on behalf of the of the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Peru, United Kingdom, Congo, Qatar, Ghana, Argentina, Australia, Austria (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Iceland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Norway, New Zealand, Italy, Republic of Korea and Canada.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and adjourned at 1:55 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met today to hold an open debate on Afghanistan.  According to the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan(document S/2006/145), the past four years have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the country’s political landscape.  The completion of the Bonn process, which culminated in December 2005 in the inauguration of a representative and fully elected National Assembly, vividly underscores the milestones that have been reached in establishing the underpinnings of a viable democratic State.  It underscores the determination of the Afghan people to realize their long-awaited aspirations for peace and stability in their nation, and is a reflection of the steadfast partnership between the Government and the international community.

Nevertheless, states the report, the foundations of the State remain weak and as yet do not have the capacity to deliver to the majority of Afghans the basic services they require to improve their daily lot.  Afghanistan continues to face enormous challenges in the areas of security, governance, rule of law and human rights, sustainable economic and social development, and combating the illegal narcotics industry.  If the State is to gain credibility and enjoy the support of the population, it is imperative that meaningful progress in each of these areas be achieved.  The Government must lead this process; however, it cannot accomplish this alone.

Afghanistan will continue to need considerable political and financial engagement by the international community for some time to come.  The commitments entered into by the Government and the international community in launching the Afghanistan Compact at the London Conference provide a reassuring signal and a clearly articulated common vision of Afghanistan’s future.  Indeed, without this sustained support, the danger of a relapse into the dynamics that plunged Afghanistan into years of war, and the re-emergence of the consequences of the years of neglect, would be genuine.  Security remains foremost among the challenges facing Afghanistan.  The insecurity that is poisoning the lives of Afghans in several provinces of the country, and that denies them the ability to enjoy the benefits of the peace process, is whittling away at the support for the institutions that have emerged under the Bonn process.

Regardless of the causes of the conflict in Afghanistan -- continuing insurgency and terrorism, factional violence and disputes over resources that State institutions are still too weak to address and a thriving drug economy that provides fertile ground for criminal networks and corruption -- the concept of a democratic State will only take root if the people of Afghanistan become convinced that what is on offer is better than any alternative.  A credible national Government that can deliver on promises to effectively reconstruct the country is essential if meaningful progress can be made in other critical areas, including the exercise of democratic freedom and the rights of women.

Necessary for improving security was progress in the disarmament of illegal armed groups and the development of credible and sustainable national security institutions, the report notes.  The successful implementation of the disarmament of illegal armed groups will require a perception by the illegal armed groups that the Government enjoys the full support of the international civilian and military forces in carrying out the programme.  Even as the Afghan National Army continues to expand, the Government will continue to rely on the assistance of international security forces in promoting security and stability in all regions of Afghanistan.  The Afghan National Police will require international support for reform and training in the full range of police skills, which needs to be conducted under a comprehensive national programme with uniform standards and in the context of overall security sector reform.

The planned expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is an encouraging development.  The Secretary-General encourages NATO-contributing nations to dispatch appropriate military forces with common and robust rules of engagement, enhanced command and control arrangements with the Coalition Forces, as well as common objectives for the provincial reconstruction teams.

The implementation of the Afghanistan Compact will put the country and its international partners to many tests, the report notes.  In addition to the challenge of security, it will remain vital to ensure that development occurs at a pace and in a manner that meets the aspirations and harnesses the potential of the Afghan people.  The Compact itself, together with the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy, provides an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that the Government of Afghanistan and the international community work together on a common plan towards shared objectives in the fields of security, governance and development.

To succeed, the Afghan-led process will require the redoubling of the international community’s efforts; the timely fulfilment of the commitments made in London, including the deployment of necessary security assets; and sustained attention to strengthening ties between Afghanistan and its neighbours.  A measure of success in meeting Afghanistan’s challenges will also depend on the extent to which respect for human rights is institutionalized.

The current mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expires on 24 March, and the Secretary-General recommends that it be extended for a further period of 12 months. The Mission’s primary responsibilities will be the continued provision of political and strategic guidance to the Afghan leadership and its international partners, including security forces, as they embark on the ambitious and vital next phase of State building.  The UNAMA will also, through its role as co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, help the Government gain visibility over international assistance activities, and advocate for greater coherence in the overall reconstruction efforts in support of the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact.  The Secretary-General emphasizes that the implementation of the UNAMA mandate will be contingent on the provision of additional and sufficient security resources.

Statements

TOM KOENIGS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that the London Conference on Afghanistan held on 31 January and 1 February reaffirmed the strong commitment of the international community to support Afghanistan for the next five years and beyond.  In many respects, the benchmarks and time frames laid down by the Afghanistan Compact were as ambitious and wide-ranging as those of the Bonn Agreement.  By endorsing the Compact as the framework for international partnership with Afghanistan over the next five years, the Council recognized the mutual obligations and discipline that was needed to ensure the implementation of that road map.  Two priorities would be pivotal to the Compact’s success -- Afghan institutions on all levels must be strengthened to the point where they were effective enough to deliver basic services; and the strategy for tackling hard security challenges must evolve to meet outstanding threats.

Turning to political developments, he said the first months of work by the new National Assembly had demonstrated the promise of Afghanistan’s new institutions.  The coming months would test the ability of the Afghan Government and Parliament to work constructively to adopt a new budget, agree on the composition of the new cabinet and forge a legislative agenda that reflected national priorities under the new Compact.  The political agenda was also increasingly focused on justice-related issues.  President Karzai had indicated his determination to significantly renew Afghanistan’s Supreme Court, and had also agreed to launch the Action Plan on Peace, Justice and Reconciliation together with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

Describing security developments, he said the bomb attack in Kabul directed against Meshrano Jirga Speaker and former President Mojadeddi two days ago illustrated the importance that Afghanistan’s enemies continued to attach to disrupting the democratic process by violent means.  That attack was emblematic of national trends with regard to security which continued to be a serious concern.  The winter months of 2005 and 2006 had witnessed a rise in insurgent and terrorist attacks and more sophisticated tactics.  There had been a marked increase in the incidence of larger and more deadly explosive devices.  Any resolution of the security challenge would require redoubled international efforts to dismantle terrorist structures that represented a common threat to the security of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Afghan Government had moved to address threats both by policy and successful crisis management, he said.  At a seminar held in Kabul from 26 to 28 February, the National Security Council considered a blueprint for Afghanistan’s national security policy.  It called for fully functional Afghan security institutions addressing internal and external threats to peace and security in an integrated fashion, under civilian supervision, and on a fiscally sustainable basis.  The completion of security sector reform remained crucial to the peacebuilding process.  The Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups programme had gained profile and momentum in recent weeks.  In total, over 19,000 weapons had now been collected in all parts of the country.

The key development within the international military forces in recent weeks was the transfer of Regional Command South under Operation Enduring Freedom from a United States to a multinational brigade on 28 February in Kandahar.  Once fully fielded, that force would feature robust capabilities from the armed forces of Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands, Australia and other countries with a deployed strength of 6,000 troops in Afghanistan’s five southern provinces.  That represented an increase of 50 per cent over previous levels, and showed international resolve to meet the threat of terrorist-based insurgency.  Improved border management was also required to meet several key objectives under the Compact -- from drug interdiction to revenue collection.

The agenda before the Afghan Government and the international community was a heavy one, he noted.  Whereas the Bonn Agreement was centred on the re-establishment of legitimate national institutions, a key challenge under the Afghanistan Compact would be to extend the reach of Government at the local level.  That would require security, development, civil society and private sector actors to be more present in areas not yet touched by recovery.  It would require programmes that ensured the participation of Afghans in the development of the country, while meeting the needs of vulnerable groups and poor regions.

It would also challenge Afghanistan’s Government to make functioning institutions of justice and the rule of law more and more a reality in the communities in which most Afghans lived.  It would also require the implementation of Afghanistan’s new obligations to protect and monitor the human rights of its citizens.  Afghanistan could meet those expectations only by reforming and strengthening the government institutions necessary to develop its human capital, harness the potential of agriculture and natural resources and set conditions for the emergence of a vibrant private sector.  Enhanced regional cooperation in that regard was also essential.

The report before the Council outlined a number of proposals on how UNAMA, having completed its support for the Bonn process, could continue to play a role as a special political mission, providing advice to the Government in particular with a view to further strengthening its State institutions.  The Mission would continue to be an integrated mission, and to plan and coordinate United Nations humanitarian and development activities.  It would be vital for the Afghan Government to extend its reach to underserved areas of the country.  The proposals submitted for the Council’s consideration, therefore, included the possibility of a modest expansion of UNAMA’s field presence to accompany and support the Government in those efforts, subject, of course, to security conditions.  The implementation of that mandate would require additional and sufficient security resources, including air and medical evacuation support.

As the clock of the Afghanistan Compact started ticking, he said, the first benchmark -- the establishment of a clear and transparent appointments mechanism for senior-level civil service positions -- would need to be met after six months.  By endorsing the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness last week, the Government of Afghanistan underscored the need to harmonize its efforts and those of the international community to ensure that the common vision for sustainable peace and development was realized in Afghanistan.  He called on the Afghan Government to do its utmost to meet the benchmarks set out in those documents and encouraged the international community to show continuing generosity and commitment in that next important phase of the peace process.

ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), aligning himself fully with the statement to be made by the representative of Austria on behalf of the European Union, said that the holding of the parliamentary and provincial elections on 18 September and the inauguration of the new Parliament on 19 December had brought the Bonn Process to a successful conclusion.  The adoption of the Afghan Compact at the London Conference on 31 January and its endorsement by the Security Council on 15 February had set in motion the new process for attaining a full-fledged political and socio-economic development of a peaceful, stable and secure environment.

However, many serious challenges still faced Afghanistan, he said.  Greece agreed with the Secretary-General’s observations regarding the needed completion of reforms in the security, administration, justice and humanitarian sectors, as well as establishing the rule of law and full respect for human rights, especially in those provinces where warlords and drug networks continued to reign.  In particular, Greece was gravely concerned by the recent escalation of violence against civilians, aid workers, the Afghan military and international security forces, moderate politicians, government employees and educators.  If those incidents continued, all efforts and activities for the implementation of the Compact would be at great risk.

He said his country looked forward to the amelioration of the security situation, mainly through the further strengthening of the Afghan National Army and police forces and the launch of the programme for the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups.  In addition, the expansion of ISAF forces in the south and the strengthening of the work of the provincial reconstruction teams would lead to improving security and facilitating reconstruction and economic development in the countryside.  Of course, the underpinning to such armed attacks, violent clashes, suicide bombings and burning of schools was the narcotics industry.

The Afghan Government and the international community had undertaken serious measures to tackle that problem, but to no avail so far, he said.  If the links among large-scale farmers’ poverty, poppy cultivation, the narcotics trade, corruption and terrorists were not cut, all efforts and money to consolidate peace, democratic institutions, reconstruction, stability, economic growth and social development would be constantly undermined.  The further engagement of the United Nations and contributions of individual countries, as well as non-governmental organizations, were needed in order to fulfil the clear benchmarks of the Afghan Compact for the new five-year development phase.  Greece supported the Secretary-General’s proposed new mandate and structure of UNAMA and was ready to participate constructively in consultations on Security Council draft resolutions.

KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) expressed pleasure over the successful completion of the Bonn Process and said the London Conference held at the end of January, as well as the launch of the Afghanistan Compact, had been a significant event in laying out a post-Bonn framework for continued international commitment and assistance for the country.  On the other hand, many challenges facing Afghanistan’s future remained, including in the areas of security, governance, economic and social development, and, especially worrying, illicit narcotics.  To meet those challenges, determined efforts were needed on the part of the Afghan Government, supported by continued assistance from the international community.

He said that, for the next phase of national reconstruction and reconciliation to succeed, it was considered essential that single-minded efforts be made towards implementation of the Compact, with full ownership of the process by Afghans themselves.  The National Assembly was now engaging in active deliberations and debates on issues ranging from administration of the country to threats to its stability.  Japan looked forward to the early confirmation of Cabinet ministers by the National Assembly, a process through which it was to be hoped that Afghanistan would overcome the difficulties so often experienced in the early stages of establishing a democratic political system.

Among the problems that continued to plague the country and its people were those posed by the insecurity and lawlessness prevailing in many provinces, he said.  To improve security, the size of the Afghan National Army and National Police must be expanded, their capabilities improved and judicial reform achieved without delay.  At the same time, it was important to call on all Afghan parties to exercise restraint and avoid violence.  All should engage in the conduct of political affairs in a peaceful manner and strive for national reconciliation. 

Considerable progress had, in fact, been made by the Afghan Government and the international community in achieving reform throughout the security sector, he said.  Japan had been a major contributor to the promotion of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and appreciated the efforts of the Afghan Government to bring disarmament and demobilization to a conclusion.  With their completion, it now remained to work on completing reintegration and hopefully that would be done at the earliest possible date.  With disarmament, demobilization and reintegration almost completed, Japan attached special importance of the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups programme.  It was an Afghan-led programme and, as such, must be carried out by all government authorities concerned acting together.  Japan hoped strongly that the Government would show the needed resolve and commitment to make it a success.

AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the most urgent needs which required ongoing attention included the strengthening of government structures; enforcing the basics of good governance, justice and rule of law; upholding human rights; disarming and disbanding illegal armed groups; continuing with efforts to reduce production and trafficking of narcotics; and laying the foundation for sustainable economic and social development.  Similar attention needed to be directed at strengthening the justice system, which lacked qualified personnel and the infrastructure to administer justice fairly and effectively.  It was equally important for the leadership to address social issues, such as housing, continuing empowerment of women and the reintegration of returnees from neighbouring countries.

It was clear that a persistent challenge was in the area of security, he said.  The situation demanded enhanced training and well equipped National Police, with the capacity to protect itself beyond Kabul and effectively cover the whole country.  That should go hand in hand with the building of a fully operational Afghan National Army, whose immediate assignment would be to disband armed groups bearing no relation to the structure of the Afghan security agencies.  He believed the Government and people must lead the process to restore security and development.  However, they needed the support of the international community, as was demonstrated by the recently launched Afghanistan Compact.  He supported the extension of UNAMA for a further period of 12 months to continue with its supportive role to the Afghan people and Government in the implementation of the new Compact.

MICHEL DUCLOS ( France) said the situation in Afghanistan was marked by a paradox:  while there had been considerable progress on all fronts, there continued to be a risk of destabilization that could not be precluded.  That was due to an upsurge in insecurity, which was caused by both internal and external reasons.  It manifested itself in acts of terrorism, but was also fuelled by and rooted in the presence of armed groups, drug-trafficking networks and the weaknesses of the administration.  The new Afghan Compact was tailored to the new context in which the Afghan people were managing their own affairs.  The Compact contained a major guideline for the country’s specific needs in terms of creating local institutions, which they needed to strengthen through robust decentralization.  The United Nations had a clear role to play in that regard.

Turning to the Secretary-General’s proposals, he said that a number of them were particularly important, particularly regarding the coordination of international efforts.  New formulas were needed to ensure that, as well as to assemble the mechanism worked out in London.  The United Nations also needed to step up efforts to add value to the disarmament of illegal armed groups and the preparation of future elections, activities in which the Organization maintained unique experience.  France agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the United Nations role to the provinces, which must be done prudently.  Furthermore, it was almost embarrassing to recall the fact that regional intervention continued to be a key aspect.  Recently, there had been very disturbing elements with regard to the relationship between Afghanistan and certain neighbouring countries.  There was a need to restore normal relations and a climate of trust.

LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN ( Denmark) said he had six comments or questions on the role, responsibilities and institutional set-up of UNAMA.  First, he agreed that a major task for UNAMA would be to underpin the new and fragile democratic institutions provided through the Bonn Process.  He urged the Special Representative to continue active dialogue with the entire political spectrum to keep the positive development in the political process on track.  Second, promoting human rights were a high priority task for UNAMA, including improving the situation of women and enhancing women’s rights.  That implied, among other things, that UNAMA should insist that the President appoint qualified judges to the Supreme Court.  Third, reform of the public sector, including the justice sector, was a sine qua non if the Afghans were to enjoy transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

Fourth, he continued, UNAMA’s presence outside Kabul must be significantly enhanced.  The key to the Compact’s success rested to a great extent with progress in the provinces.  He asked the Special Representative to elaborate on plans for a strong UNAMA presence and its implications for enhanced coordination, information flows, trust and impetus from all parties to the efforts of improving security, governance and development.  Fifth, UNAMA had chosen to maintain the split in two pillars of its activities -- pillar I dealing with political affairs and pillar II with relief, recovery and development.  That split entailed unavoidable overlaps, and gave rise to coordination issues that needed to be tackled head on.  Sixth, he urged the United Nations to prioritize timely recruitment of high-quality staff for the positions with UNAMA in Afghanistan, not least in the provinces, where vacancies at places with only one to two internationals could have, and had had, a detrimental effect.

WANG GUANGYA ( China) said the Afghan economy was maintaining a fairly rapid growth, and the Afghan people had seen an improvement in their livelihoods.  The national army and police forces were taking greater responsibility in maintaining security.  Those achievements would not have been possible without the efforts of the Afghan Government and people and the generous support of the international community.  However, the narcotics traffickers and terrorists remained a threat to Afghanistan’s peace and stability.  The new Afghanistan Compact proposed specific measures and a pragmatic time frame for development over the next five years and marked a new phase for development and stability, as well as for the completion of reconstruction and promotion of the rule of law.

The United Nations should continue to play a constructive role in reconstruction and reconciliation, he said.  China agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a one-year extension of UNAMA’s mandate.  At the same time, the international community should continue to encourage the need for a sense of Afghan ownership.  China hoped that the country and its neighbours would use existing instruments to deepen regional cooperation.  As a good neighbour, China had always followed closely Afghanistan’s development efforts and would continue, as always, to encourage long-term investment, security and development in the country.  With the efforts of the Afghan Government, supported by the Afghan people, the country would continue to make steady progress.

PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) agreed that the tasks in all four key areas of the Afghanistan Compact and timelines for their implementation were very demanding.  But he was convinced that they were realistic and achievable, provided that all sides fulfilled their commitments.  It was necessary to ensure that the implementation of measures in all key areas -- security, governance, development and eliminating narcotics -- went hand in hand, and a meaningful progress was achieved in each of those areas.  He asked the Special Representative to provide details on the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, established to ensure coordination and coherence of the implementation of the Compact, including a date for the start of its work.

Security remained essential for long-term reconstruction and development in Afghanistan, he noted.  The international community must provide all necessary assistance to the Afghan people and Government to extend and exercise authority across the country and create the environment required to enable reconstruction and nation-building activities to continue.  He welcomed the decision to strengthen ISAF and expand the areas of its operation to the south and east of the country.  In addition, he believed that the promotion of human rights, paying special attention to the rights of women and children, should be a very important cross-cutting priority in the process of transformation.  He supported the extension of UNAMA, adding that special attention needed to be placed on security resources for United Nations personnel.

JOHN BOLTON ( United States) said he supported fully the Secretary-General’s recommended renewal of UNAMA’s mandate and urged fully other delegations to do the same.  Throughout the Bonn Process, the Mission had shown strong support for Afghanistan, and the role of the United Nations in forming the Afghanistan Compact would be essential to ensuring success in the next five years.

He said the Organization’s responsibility would increase, and the United States looked to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to persuade the donor community, as well as Governments, to stay the course as outlined in the Compact.  The objective was to ensure strong leadership, as well as financial and technical support for Afghanistan.  Under the Compact, the Afghan Government was committed to increasing security by building a legal economy free from the corruption of drug production and trafficking.  Support for the Afghanistan Compact demonstrated the firm commitment to security, democracy and economic development, while highlighting the strong role of the United Nations.  The United States looked forward to the building of the rule of law, a strong judicial system and a peaceful Afghan State that would be a source of stability in the Central South Asia region.

ANDREY I. DENISOV ( Russian Federation), speaking on behalf of the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation and Tajikistan -- said that to successfully implement the tasks set in London, it was necessary to radically alter the security situation which had recently been exacerbated.  Further capacity-building of the national security forces would contribute to a speedy stabilization of the situation.  That was a priority which would ensure a stable security situation in Afghanistan in the future.

Given the increasing threat from the Taliban and Al-Qaida, strict compliance, including by the Afghan Government, with the sanctions imposed by the Security Council gained a special relevance, he said.  Implementation of the programme of national reconciliation was important for a long-term stabilization of the situation in the country.  Solving the problem of the production and smuggling of drugs would be conducive to successfully fighting terrorism, to economic rehabilitation and to forming a stable central power in Afghanistan.  It was important that a comprehensive international strategy against the drug threat from Afghanistan be developed as soon as possible with the participation of UNAMA.

As part of efforts to create the anti-drug “security belts” along the Afghan borders, the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization conducted a two-stage (25-31 October and 5-12 December 2005) prevention operation “Channel” in the presence of observers from Azerbaijan, Iran, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.  This time, more than 11 tons of narcotics and psychotropic substances were confiscated.   Afghanistan remained one of the priorities for that Organization, which had launched a Working Group on Afghanistan.  Members of the Organization were ready to continue to contribute to the process of regional interaction in efforts in Afghanistan, including economic rehabilitation, security and the fight against drug trafficking.

OSWALDO DE RIVERO ( Peru) said the London Conference and the adoption of the Afghanistan Compact had organized effective efforts on the basis of benchmarks and time frames in the context of security and the rule of law, human rights, social and economic development, disarming all illegal armed groups and the eradication of opium cultivation by 2010.  However, the Compact faced a paradox because of two fundamental challenges -- one in security and the other in the production and trafficking of narcotics.

The Compact had come about at a time when there was an increase in terrorism, including suicide attacks on the Kabul authorities, as well as rising violence against international forces and the education system, he said.  Terrorists were behind those attacks, but they were not the sole concern.  Today, Afghanistan was the world’s best organized drug State, producing 80 cent of the world’s opium.  It produced most of the world’s heroin, and 2 million Afghan people worked in the narcotics sector.  All those aspects tended to undermine international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, because the influence of opium was beginning to undermine international anti-narcotics efforts, including those in the Latin American region.  In order for the Afghanistan Compact to establish peace and security, it must eradicate all links with the narcotics trade or risk collapse.

ADAM THOMSON ( United Kingdom) said he fully supported the expansion of UNAMA’s mandate, including the adjustments to it proposed by the Secretary-General.  Under the Bonn process, Afghanistan had made tremendous progress.  But more remained to be done, since Afghanistan’s transformation was a long-term task requiring sustained international commitment.  The London Conference had provided an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to Afghanistan for the next phase.  The Afghanistan Compact demonstrated the international community’s firm continuing support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and for increasing Afghan ownership of that process.  The Compact aimed to address Afghanistan’s development over the next five years with clear benchmarks and goals.  The $10.5 billion pledged provided encouraging evidence that the international community remained determined to underpin political support with the practical assistance needed to implement the Compact’s goals.  It was necessary to move quickly to maintain the momentum of the Conference.  He welcomed the commitment of the United Nations to playing a leading role in coordinating efforts to “deliver the Compact”.  He supported the early establishment of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to drive forward the ambitious Compact agenda.

He went on to highlight two of the numerous challenges for the country.  The first was security.  Improving security, particularly in the south and east of the country, remained critical to the entire enterprise.  The phased expansion of ISAF was a key part of that agenda.  The core tasks of ISAF did not need to change as it expanded into the south, such as facilitating security sector reform.  The second challenge was the corrosive threat posed by the narcotics industry.  Working to eliminate the production and trafficking of narcotics was vital to the long-term development and security of Afghanistan.  Unless effective support was provided to the President and Government to address the problem in a sustainable way, all achievements risked being undermined.  Sustainable drug-elimination strategies required time.  There were no instant solutions, no short cuts to success.  He noted some progress in the area, including the passage in 2005 of vital counter-narcotics legislation and an increase in drug-related seizures.   The international community must increase its support to help the Government  build on those successes.  The United Kingdom would spend over ₤270 million, or $500 million, over the next three financial years in support of the Government’s updated counter-narcotics strategy.  It would also be supporting the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics to mainstream counter-narcotics within the overall national development strategy.

PASCAL KAYAMA ( Congo) underscored the importance of international cooperation in rebuilding Afghanistan.  The international community, and particularly the Security Council, welcomed the successful end to the Bonn process, as well as the aspects of the next phase as laid out in the Afghanistan Compact.  Today, the international community pinned great hopes on the implementation of the Compact.

The international community should demonstrate the same spirit towards all countries emerging from armed conflict, he said, noting, at the same time, that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative would soon be ending his time in office and calling for a renewal of his term when that time came.  The lack of security in Afghanistan had manifested itself in daily acts of violence perpetrated by extremists motivated by the need to further their own aims, as well as international terrorists and armed bandits.  Congo congratulated the personnel of ISAF for the tremendous job they had done in extremely dangerous conditions.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said the international community had travelled very far towards the political, economic and security transformation of Afghanistan.  The Afghanistan Compact was a framework for action, ensuring effective coordination between the international community and the Government over the next five years to rebuild the country and re-establish peace.  Qatar reaffirmed its support for the Afghan people and its readiness to work with the international community to achieve those goals.  On 20 February, Qatar hosted the Doha II conference on the security situation in Afghanistan, in cooperation with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The adoption of the Doha Declaration on border management had taken place after the Secretary-General’s report was prepared and, therefore, was not mentioned in the report.  The aim of the conference was to bolster close cooperation among the countries of the region in terms of establishing police forces and border security, while also providing support in addressing narcotics.

The Doha conference, he continued, welcomed the measures taken to pursue and strengthen cooperation between countries in the region.  While it was true that tangible progress had been made in such areas as democracy and respect for human rights, much remained to be addressed, such as the deplorable situation of the prison system, which required thorough reform.  In the future, it would be necessary to stress economic development, as well as the need to reduce drug production.  More than 80 per cent of the world’s opium poppy was produced in Afghanistan.  It was vital to put an end to smuggling and the drug culture in Afghanistan without overlooking the need to improve the health and education sectors.  The UNAMA had played a remarkable role in safeguarding stability and increasing a climate conducive to economic and political security.  The Secretary-General’s proposals were extremely useful and were likely to enhance the effectiveness of the Mission.  He favoured the extension of the Mission’s mandate for a further 12-month period.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) deplored the wanton killings resulting from reckless acts of terror by remnants of extremist groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other armed bandits bent on undermining the progress towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.  It was also worrisome that the operational tempo and sophistication of the insurgents and other anti-government elements had continued to develop, and that now the principal threats were improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, kidnappings and attacks against the educational system.

He called on the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to iron out whatever differences they had and to cooperate in improving security along their common border for their mutual benefit.  In the same vein, Ghana underscored the grave dangers posed to reconstruction by the opium trade, which reportedly accounted for more than 50 per cent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic revenues and appeared to be the lifeblood of criminal gangs and illegal armed groups.

Turning to human rights, he said it was disheartening that women had continued to face serious restrictions in the exercise of their rights, including those affecting their freedom of movement, access to education coupled with widespread discrimination and pervasive violence that also affected young girls.  Unless impunity was checked, functional commanders, officials of the security agencies, as well as former warlords would continue to engage in arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and torture without being held accountable.  That was why it was imperative that the adoption of the National Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice be accorded the highest priority and implemented vigorously.   Ghana supported the Secretary-General’s proposals to consolidate and tighten up United Nations activities under the UNAMA umbrella.

Council President CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina), speaking in his national capacity, said that, in order to consolidate the institutions established in the framework of the Bonn process and to normalize the situation in the country, the continued assistance of the international community was needed in several areas, including those outlined in the Afghanistan Compact.  Regarding the security situation, which remained of great concern, he welcomed the adoption by NATO of a new operational plan that would cover the south of the country.  Another major challenge was the fight against narcotics, with the Afghan economy continuing to be dominated by the production and trafficking of opium.  He supported the adoption of an integral strategy, like the one presented in London, but noted that it was not sufficient to adopt laws.  Implementation was the key.

Turning to the human rights situation, he believed that impunity for the leaders of armed groups accused of grave human rights violations was unacceptable.  He requested the Secretariat to provide more detailed information on the National Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice, adopted last December.  He hoped that justice was not sacrificed in the search for reconciliation and that impunity would not be allowed to reign.  In his capacity as Chairman of the 1267 Committee, he reiterated his disposition to support the Afghan Government in all aspects of the implementation of the sanctions against Al-Qaida and the Taliban, and to apply the established procedures to solve anomalous situations with regard to people included in the Committee’s list.  Regarding the future of UNAMA, he supported the renewal of the Mission’s mandate and the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report.

RAVAN FARHADI ( Afghanistan) said that in adopting the Afghanistan Compact, his country and its international partners had renewed their commitment to achieving sustainable progress in the key areas of security, governance, rule of law and human rights, as well as social and economic development.  Afghanistan was grateful to the international community for having pledged in London financial assistance amounting to $10.5 billion for his country’s reconstruction and rehabilitation.  The generosity displayed was a clear indication of the international community’s sustained commitment to Afghanistan’s development and reconstruction.

He said that, with the presentation of its interim National Development Strategy at the London Conference, the Government of Afghanistan had provided a clear and comprehensive blueprint for the implementation of the Compact and stood ready to fulfil its responsibility to achieve the National Development Strategy.  In that respect, the Government had recently appointed Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Justice, Finance and Economy, as well as the National Security Adviser to serve on the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, the work of which would be conducted under the supervision of Ishaq Naderi, Senior Economic Adviser to President Karzai.

Despite the successful implementation of the Bonn Agreement, much remained to be accomplished in order to overcome the remaining challenges confronting Afghanistan, he said.  The country remained concerned about the ongoing terrorist activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, particularly in the south and south-east.  Such attacks not only terrorized the daily lives of he Afghan people, but also jeopardized the country’s rehabilitation and reconstruction.  The heinous suicide attacks of 12 March on the life of Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, Chairman of the Upper House of the National Assembly, was yet another desperate attempt by the enemies of Afghanistan to destabilize the country.  The practice of suicide attacks had been virtually unknown in Afghan history.  Even during the resistance against foreign occupation, the people had never resorted to such abhorrent practices, and it was, therefore, apparent that the phenomenon had come from abroad.  Such activities would not hinder the resolve of the Afghan people in their quest for a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan.

The cultivation, production, trafficking of narcotic drugs was yet another challenge facing Afghanistan, he said.  The Government acknowledged the magnitude of that threat to stability and remained resolved to tackle it.  In recognition of its responsibility to eradicate the illicit cultivation and production of illicit drugs, Afghanistan had presented its updated National Drug Control Strategy at the London Conference.  It encompassed the fight against drug trafficking; assistance to farmers through alternative livelihoods; drug demand reduction; and institution building at the central and provincial levels.  Furthermore, the Government had also adopted a new counter-narcotics law in December 2005, establishing the Central Narcotics Tribunal to prosecute drug traffickers and those associated with the production and cultivation of illicit drugs.  In order to achieve the objectives of the National Drug Control Strategy, Afghanistan reiterated the need for enhanced regional and international coordination and cooperation.

CAROLINE MILLAR ( Australia) said the Afghanistan Compact provided a clear and agreed strategic framework for the next phase of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.  She noted Australia’s latest commitment of up to $150 million over the next five years, which followed the $110 million Australia had committed since 2001 and which was now fully disbursed.  Her country remained concerned about the damage done in Afghanistan by years of conflict.  She shared the concern of the Secretary-General at the many issues that presented challenges to the short and longer-term security and stability of Afghanistan which had not yet been resolved.  Australia agreed with the Secretary-General that the human rights situation remained challenging and encouraged the Afghan Government to continue its efforts in that area, so as to fully meet domestic and international commitments.

Alongside its further financial commitment, Australia had also recently announced the additional military deployment of up to 200 personnel as a contribution to a Provincial Reconstruction Team, and had provided direct support to UNAMA through the provision of an Australian Defence Force officer as a military adviser to UNAMA.  She agreed that the proposed adjustments to UNAMA would allow the Mission to better meet the challenges ahead.

GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said it fully supported all the pillars identified by the Afghanistan Compact -- security, governance, rule of law and human rights, sustainable economic and social development, as well as the cross-cutting priority of counter-narcotics.  It also remained committed to long-term support for the efforts of the Afghan Government and people in each of those areas and would further enhance the effectiveness of European action.  The European Union-Afghanistan joint Declaration of 16 November was a clear expression of that and European assistance would aim mainly at fostering the establishment of a democratic, accountable and sustainable Afghan State capable of exercising its sovereignty and protecting the rights of its citizens, while stressing Afghan ownership in the process.

In that context, he said, the European Union would build on its already extensive engagement in the political, security, development and humanitarian fields and ensure the mainstreaming of counter-narcotics throughout its activities in each of those areas.  The challenges of the phase following the successful completion of the Bonn Process called for the deepening and consolidation of progress achieved so far.  Counter-narcotics would remain a cross-cutting priority in overall European Union policy towards Afghanistan and the organization would sustain and increase its efforts in support of the priorities highlighted in the Afghan Government’s National Drugs Control Strategy.  Specifically, the European Union would support the development of strong and effective counter-narcotics institutions, law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, including through the provision of mentors and trainers, and would provide financial support for efforts by the Government of Afghanistan to strengthen and diversify sustainable opportunities for legal rural livelihoods.

The human rights situation remained a cause of concern and continued to undermine reconstruction efforts outside the cities, he said.  The European Union would increase its support for security sector reform, including by providing training and increased financial support for the creation of an effective and sustainable Afghan national police, and by making available further contributions to support the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants.  In that context, the European Union welcomed the Doha Declaration on Border Management in Afghanistan and the Declaration on Closer Cooperation on Border Police, both agreed in Doha on 28 February.  European Union member States would continue their substantial role in supplying military and civilian resources to ISAF.  It would also provide assistance directly through the budget and would continue to encourage the Afghan Government to reach greater financial self-sustainability.  It also supported the continued central role of the United Nations and welcomed the Secretary-General’s latest recommendations regarding UNAMA’s mandate.

HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said that the report of the Secretary-General was a reminder of the challenges remaining in Afghanistan.  The increased activity of insurgents and terrorists was of great concern.  Unfortunately, much remained to be done concerning strengthening the rule of law, improving human rights and the practice of good governance.  Further, the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics continued to be a threat to the success of building a State.

He said that peacekeeping missions enabled a small country, such as Iceland, to join international efforts for peace and development.  Iceland was currently contributing a mobile observation team to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in western Afghanistan.  Previously, it held administrative command and other tasks at Kabul International Airport from the middle of 2004 and into 2005.  It had now decided that, beginning this spring, Iceland would again provide personnel in support of Kabul airport operations.  Iceland had also produced, at the request of the Afghan authorities and NATO, a plan for how to transition in three to four years the operation of the airport from the ISAF to Afghan civilian management.  Iceland would assist in implementing the transition plan by providing expert advice and support in close cooperation with other international organizations.  In addition, Iceland had, on a number of occasions since 2001, provided airlift for transportation of peacekeeping forces, military equipment and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

GUNTER PLEUGER ( Germany), aligning himself with the European Union, said Afghanistan would remain a priority for his country in its worldwide engagement.  Germany’s bilateral financial commitment from 2002 until 2010 would amount to more than $1 billion, and it was prepared to relieve Afghanistan of old debts in the framework of the Paris Club.  Germany also shared the Secretary-General’s observations, including those on the paramount importance of security.  Germany would, therefore, remain strongly involved in the security sector through its lead role in police reform, its support for the disbandment of illegal armed groups by the provincial reconstruction teams under German responsibility, and by providing the largest military contingent to ISAF.

He said that, at the end of February, the Governments of Afghanistan and Germany had jointly organized another major conference on police reform in Doha focusing on police reform and border management in a regional perspective.  A functioning police force in Afghanistan would have a key role in providing security, fighting crime and drug trafficking and protecting borders in cooperation with neighbouring States.  In Doha, Afghanistan and its neighbours had created the basis for joint regional border management.  The conference had adopted the “Doha Declaration on Border Management -- A Regional Approach”, and the “Declaration on Closer Cooperation on Border Police within the Frameworks of the Kabul Declaration and the Reconstruction of the Police of Afghanistan”.  In addition, pledges of up to $38 million had been made available for police reform.  The Doha conference was a step towards fulfilling the relevant benchmark of the Compact.

JAVAD ZARIF ( Iran) said, despite remarkable accomplishments, many issues that presented challenges to the short and longer-term security and stability of Afghanistan were yet to be adequately addressed.  Insecurity and the pervasive drug economy remained foremost among the challenges facing Afghanistan.  He strongly condemned all terrorist acts which had targeted the security and development of Afghanistan and the larger region.  It was also alarming that, despite the ever-increasing presence of foreign forces in the country, anti-government elements had appeared to have expanded their theatre of operations and violence into traditionally calmer areas of the country.  Expediting the full expansion of the central Government’s authority to the whole of the country, coupled with handing over the responsibility for the country’s security to the national army and police, was an essential step towards mitigating the threat of insecurity in Afghanistan.

The unabated operation of the narcotics industry posed a major threat to achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan, and adversely affected the political and economic reconstruction of the country, he said.  It also endangered the security and stability of the region, especially of the neighbouring countries.  The measures taken by the Afghan Government to contain the threat of narcotic drugs required much improvement.  The magnitude of the drug trade required more concerted and resolute efforts on the part of the Government and a more responsible approach by the international community, particularly those with a wide military presence in Afghanistan.  Despite efforts, opium production had increased throughout the whole country and in the regions bordering Iran.

He added that, by pledging $560 million to Afghanistan’s reconstruction at the Tokyo Conference, Iran had played a major role in that country’s reconstruction and development process.  Iran’s contribution to reconstruction had so far amounted to more than $210 million.  Iran, which had endured huge costs during the past three decades by hosting almost 3 million Afghan refugees, hoped that the new conditions in Afghanistan would facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees to their home country in a more timely and promising manner.

YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan), associating himself with the statement by the representative of the Russian Federation on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said that viewing Afghanistan as an integral part of Central Asia, his country welcomed its positive achievements in the political, social and economic spheres, as well as its involvement in regional affairs.  Kazakhstan was strongly committed to continuing its contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan in partnership with the Afghan authorities and the international community.  At the same time, security was under pressure from the rising level of insurgent attacks, particularly in the south-east and south-west.

He said his country supported the central role of the United Nations in leading international efforts to assist the Afghan authorities in bringing lasting prosperity to the country.  Kazakhstan welcomed the steps taken to deepen interaction with international counter-narcotics institutions, which had resulted in a decline in opium production in 2005.  During the last 10 years, however, the level of drug-related crimes in Central Asia had increased fivefold and the situation tended to get worse.  One key element of the overall strategy must be the further enhancement of existing, and the establishment of new anti-drug “security belts”.

Kazakhstan was ready to grant scholarships to Afghan students, to sign bilateral agreements on cooperation in the fields of education, and to launch a civil aviation training programme, he said.  In addition, Kazakh companies were looking forward to participating in the development of oilfields and the construction of electricity transmission lines, pipelines, roads and houses.

JOHAN L. LØVALD ( Norway) said he remained concerned about the deteriorating security situation.  The increase in violent attacks, including suicide bombings, was worrying.  However, that did not change his country’s commitment to Afghanistan and to ISAF.  Norway was reinforcing its presence in the north, including in the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Meymaneh.  Strengthening security sector reform was vital for building sustainable peace.  The rule of law must be provided through a strengthened police and judicial system.  The illegal drug production and trade also represented a major concern.  Any failure to tackle that problem would undermine efforts to bring sustainable peace and development.  A comprehensive approach to the problem was necessary.  In addition, progress on administrative reforms must continue, and the Afghan authorities must strengthen its capacity to bring services to the Afghan people.  It was important that the authority of the central Government was projected throughout Afghanistan.

He said further efforts were needed to ensure that human rights obligations were respected.  In particular, Norway would like to draw attention to the importance of respect for women’s rights.  In Afghanistan, and in other conflict-affected countries, coordinated and sustained efforts were needed to implement Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.  Norway welcomed the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding the future mandate of UNAMA, and supported a continued and strengthened role for UNAMA in monitoring and coordinating international assistance.

ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand) said that, in response to Security Council resolutions in 2001, her country had been one of he first countries to send military forces to Afghanistan as part of the international campaign against terrorism and was one of the largest per capita contributors.  New Zealand’s contribution represented an important part of the commitment in support of international efforts for global security.

She said that, over the past four years, hundreds of New Zealand’s defence force personnel had served in Afghanistan at a cost of around $130 million.  Capable and effective Afghan army and police forces were key to ensuring the country’s long-term stability.  To that end, New Zealand contributed to army and police training initiatives and in developing facilities in Bamiyan province for effective policing.  However, the restoration of peace and stability was not yet complete and New Zealand looked forward to resolutions to extend UNAMA’s mandate.

Although New Zealand was a small country, it remained committed to supporting Afghanistan’s progress towards political and economic stability, she said.  It had increased its development assistance to $NZ 15 million over the next three years.  Its contribution was targeted at projects or programmes carried out by non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies with a focus on sustainable rural livelihoods, governance, human rights, as well as maternal and child health.  New Zealand continued to support the work of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and human rights, including the rights of women, remained a principal area of concern.  New Zealand commended the increased participation by women in the September election and encouraged further initiatives to consolidate their participation in political life.

MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) said he was pleased that the Afghanistan Compact was built on the complementarity of the pillars of security, governance and development.  He was confident that the benchmarks contained in the Compact, as well as the early establishment of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, would play a crucial role in facilitating a timely and effective implementation of the document.  Italy was eager to contribute to that process, making the best possible use of the experience and knowledge of the local context that it had been building in the last 10 years, first as facilitator of the political process, and then as a major donor to the development programmes, lead country and key partner for justice sector reform, and contributor to Operation Enduring Freedom, among other things.  Italy was now studying how to sustain its current effort in terms of forces deployed on the ground, for instance, by employing its Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza to contribute to the training of military and border police.  Regarding UNAMA, he recommended pursuing consistency between UNAMA’s structure and the organization of the Afghanistan Compact, so as to guarantee full effectiveness in fulfilling the follow-up and monitoring tasks vested in the Mission.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea), while welcoming the launch of the Afghanistan Compact at the London Conference, pointed out that much more remained to be done.  Among other concerns, a deteriorating security situation coupled with uncontrolled violence and criminal drug trafficking hampered not only the reconstruction process, but also the implementation of Afghanistan’s national development strategy.

He expressed deep concern about the continuing instability in some areas of the country, saying the security forces should be further strengthened.  In that regard, the Republic of Korea welcomed the recent adoption by NATO of a revised operational plan allowing the continued expansion of ISAF across the country and providing training and operational support to Afghan security forces.

The Republic of Korea was also concerned by the increasing threat posed by drug trafficking to national security, social development and governance, he said.  Unless the Afghan people could find other sources of income, many would be tempted to engage in that criminal business.  The international community and the Afghan Government should work together to deal with that serious problem, which affected almost every aspect of Afghanistan’s security and development.  The Republic of Korea welcomed the updated National Drug Control Strategy presented by the Afghan Government at the London Conference and stood ready to join the international support for it by contributing to the Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund.

GILBERT LAURIN ( Canada) said his country had made a clear commitment to the emergence of a stable, secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.  Canada was one of the largest contributors to the country’s recovery.  Its strong commitment to Afghanistan’s future was highlighted by the visit of Canada’s Prime Minister to Afghanistan earlier this week, his first official State visit since taking office in January.  Canada’s commitment was also reflected in the over 14,000 personnel deployed to Afghanistan in the past several years, and its assumption of command of coalition forces in Kandahar and other southern provinces.  But success could not be assured by military means alone.

Afghanistan, he noted, was the largest recipient of Canada’s development assistance, with a total of about $650 million.  He welcomed the report of the Secretary-General, which had emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to engagement in Afghanistan, an approach enshrined in the document recently adopted at the London Conference.  The Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board would ensure greater coordination of efforts between the Government and the international community in implementation of the Compact.  It was necessary to ensure that the Board was supported by an effective Secretariat.  In supporting the Compact, Canada would focus on security, governance and poverty reduction.

Recent violence showed that now was not the time for complacency, he said.  Al-Qaida and the Taliban remained active, challenging Afghan and international security.  Also, the narcotics trade was threatening nation building.  The response must be robust and multifaceted.  Accountable and democratic governance was a fundamental component of a holistic response to the challenges faced.  The UNAMA had a crucial role to play in strengthening the emerging governance institutions of the Afghan State, including through capacity-building.  To that end, UNAMA would need to upgrade its own capabilities on human rights, rule of law, police and justice on the ground.  Canada continued to support UNAMA through secondment of police and corrections advisers, and hoped others would make similar commitments.

MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said his country enjoyed a close and symbiotic relationship with Afghanistan, rooted in geography, history, shared ethnicity and a common faith.  The destinies of the two countries were inextricably linked and peace in Afghanistan reinforced peace and tranquillity in Pakistan.  Peace in Afghanistan would enable both nations to serve as the bridge for trade and commerce between Central Asia, South Asia and beyond.  The success of the endeavours for peace and prosperity in Afghanistan was, therefore, vital for Pakistan.

More than 25 years ago, the Pakistani people had welcomed nearly 4 million of their Afghan brothers with open arms and had hosted them mostly without the generosity of external assistance, he said.  Three million Afghans remained in Pakistan and, in accordance with traditions and the principles of humanitarian law, Pakistan had not obliged them to return involuntarily to their country.  Yet, return they should and hopefully conditions would soon be created to enable them to do so in dignity and honour.  As history would recount, Pakistan’s hospitality during Afghanistan’s most difficult years had created enduring problems for Pakistan, including the rise of extremism and the presence of terrorism.  Pakistan was addressing those phenomena resolutely and successfully and had adopted short- and long-term strategies to address the problems of terrorism and extremism.

He said his country had captured 600 Al-Qaida terrorists, most of whom had infiltrated after 11 September 2001.  Pakistan had acted resolutely against Taliban terrorism, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1267, and had deployed more than 80,000 troops on the western border with Afghanistan to prevent infiltration or ex-filtration by Al-Qaida and other terrorists.  Concurrently, Pakistan was investing in infrastructure and socio-economic development in its so far unsettled frontier areas.  It had also launched major military operations in some of its tribal areas to eliminate the presence of foreign terrorists and their supporters.  More than 600 Pakistani soldiers had lost their lives in 75 operations, far more than the number of casualties suffered by coalition forces in Afghanistan.  No one, therefore, could question Pakistan’s commitment and determination to succeed in defeating terrorism.

A comprehensive approach was required to address the challenges of terrorism, criminal violence and insurgency in Afghanistan, he said.  They could be prevented by effective action within Afghanistan by the Afghan national army, as well as international coalition forces.  To ensure success, the root causes of such violence -- extremism, warlordism, the narcotics trade, local rivalries -- would need to be addressed patiently and sincerely.  The failure to do so could not be externalized.  Certainly, border control was essential to prevent infiltration into Pakistan or Afghanistan of terrorists or violent criminals.

Pakistan had deployed 80,000 troops to do so on its side and a matching effort was required on the other side if the hammer and anvil strategy was to work, he said.  Pakistan would also fence parts of the border to reinforce interdiction by its forces and seek to eliminate terrorist elements located in Afghan refugee camps and elsewhere among the refugee population.  Together with its intelligence sharing, Pakistan expected its partners to enhance its capabilities for interdiction and counter-terrorism through provision of electronic and other equipment, especially additional helicopters, to enhance mobility and reaction time.  Joint counter-terrorism operations must be conducted with full adherence to international law, including the principles incorporated in the Kabul Declaration regarding respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference.  Pakistan would not countenance any violation of those principles.

Responding to comments and questions, Mr. KOENIGS expressed appreciation for the suggestion of Japan for a visit by the Security Council to Afghanistan to once again express the Council’s commitment to the country.  Like all speakers, he shared the concern over the security situation, the violation of human rights, the inequality of women’s rights, and the concern about poppy cultivation and drug trafficking, which were major challenges for the Government and the donor community, as well as the entire United Nations.  The UNAMA would continue to develop activities under the principle of Afghan ownership, and would step back behind the leadership of the Afghan Government.

In response to a question from Denmark, he said that UNAMA would continue active dialogue with government institutions on the national and provincial level.  Regarding the proposal for the presence of UNAMA in the provinces, he noted that after the elections, some of the locations had been evacuated.  That space could be utilized by the agencies and by sub-offices in the field of UNAMA.  He would like to use some of those facilities and co-locate with some United Nations agencies, in order to increase the visibility of United Nations support.  An international presence in those areas might also help improve security there.  But it would be necessary to assess the security situation in those provinces before making that outreach.

He added that the split in two pillars of UNAMA’s activities (pillar I dealing with political affairs and pillar II with relief, recovery and development) was more administrative than substantive.  Also, UNAMA would prioritize reasonable and sophisticated recruitment of its political staff.  The quality of its staff had been the main reason for UNAMA’s efficiency and success.

Regarding the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, he hoped it would become operational as soon as possible, and President Karzai agreed with that view.  It was difficult to reconcile the two principles needed for the Board, namely effectiveness and representativity.

He appreciated the stress put on the importance of human capital development by the representative of the United States, saying that it was one of the main points which UNAMA would also stress in the future.  Dedicated efforts were being taking in Kabul and in the provinces to that aim.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.