|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5760th Meeting (AM)
INTEGRATED POLITICAL-MILITARY STRATEGY NEEDED TO OVERCOME VIOLENCE, BRING PEACE
TO AFGHANISTAN, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
An integrated political-military strategy was needed to overcome increased violence and bring peace to Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, told the Security Council at a briefing this morning.
Coordination of international and Afghan military actors had improved, he said, and there had been significant tactical military success in the south and east since his last briefing in March. Compared to last year, however, the number of violent incidents was up approximately 30 per cent on a month-to-month basis, with a significant increase in civilian casualties -- at least 1,200 had been killed since January.
He said the Afghan National Army would be at around 47,000 by the end of the year, and the poor standards of the National Police were being addressed. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was still crucial to the stability of the country, though, along with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Operation Enduring Freedom, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
The key to reducing the violence, however, was greater inclusion of Afghan civilian and military leaders, as well as international civilian actors in planning for both security and development, he said. It was essential that evidence of government progress be seen on the community level. He said a just institutional framework, at all levels, must be created. In addition, comprehensive strategies to stem the burgeoning problem of opium and to begin outreach towards reconciliation were also needed. Regional initiatives must also be stepped up.
Meanwhile, he said there were welcome signs that the democratic institutions in the country were maturing, with the passing of legislation governing a wide range of areas. He urged the international community to support election preparations for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary cycles. The UNAMA would be reinforcing its provincial and regional offices for that purpose and to strengthen its central supporting role in the country.
In the discussion that followed Mr. Koenig’s briefing, most speakers echoed his call for an integrated approach to security, administrative improvement and development in Afghanistan, stressing continued support for international initiatives, while stressing the need for Afghan leadership. Most also called for greater coordination between international actors, along with further measures to strengthen the rule of law and to fight corruption. Many, particularly European Union member States, decried the recent executions in the country.
Afghanistan’s representative said that, although his country was no longer a base for international terrorism, it had become the front line from which countries had joined hands in the fight against terrorism. At the same time, it was making steady progress in consolidating democratic institutions and confronting reconstruction and narcotics eradication. Heinous terrorist acts would in no way weaken his country’s resolve to make progress in all those areas.
He called for increased support to Afghanistan’s armed forces to improve security, but agreed that addressing terrorism and improving security would not be achieved by military means alone. Basic services and employment must be improved. He also stressed the importance of greater coordination between all military units to avoid civilian casualties. More must also be done to address the regional dimension of the terrorist problem, and to focus on reconciliation to encourage “non-terrorist Taliban” to refrain from subversive activities.
The representative of Pakistan said that a winning strategy in Afghanistan would have to be a comprehensive one, one that combined military, economic, political and administrative measures. Peace should be won painstakingly, region by region, since circumstances were different in each area. He voiced hope that the Pakistan/Afghanistan Peace Jirga had contributed to reconciliation.
Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan covered military, intelligence, border control and development cooperation, he said, stressing that: “ Pakistan has a solemn responsibility not to allow support for the Taliban insurgency or Al-Qaida to flow across from our border region.” It had, therefore, employed 100,000 troops in the effort, losing 1,000, more than any other country.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of the United States, Qatar, China, France, Belgium, Peru, Congo, Panama, South Africa, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Italy, Ghana, Portugal, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Iran, India and Norway.
The meeting convened at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
As it met this morning, the Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (document S/2007/555), which outlines priorities for the country, as it comes under increasing strain from an ongoing insurgency, weak governance and a growing narcotics industry.
“The most urgent priority must be an effective, integrated civilian-military strategy and security plan for Afghanistan”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states in the report, adding that success in the medium term also requires the engagement of communities. Both areas require stronger leadership from the Government, better coordination of international assistance and a strong commitment from neighbouring countries, he says. Without those factors, many of the gains made since the Bonn Conference may be reversed.
The key to sustaining security gains in the long term, he states, is increasing the capability, autonomy and integrity of the Afghan National Security Forces, especially the Afghan National Police. He urges the Government to build on the outcomes of the Conference on the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, which he co-chaired with President Hamid Karzai in Rome in July, by finalizing its justice sector strategy and addressing the “apparent impunity enjoyed by those government officials perceived to be abusing their offices”.
The Government, he says, must be prepared to take painful decisions now to bring credibility to emerging institutions, he says. It should avoid rotating underperforming officials into new positions, especially in the provinces, and replace them instead with effective administrators who enjoy the confidence of the population, including tribal and religious leaders.
Highlighting the threat to reconstruction and development posed by the continued increase in opium production -– which reached record levels this year – the Secretary-General calls on Afghan authorities to prioritize interdiction and to bring drug traffickers to justice. He also calls on the international community to support a truly Afghan-led plan that moves beyond eradication efforts, which had proven ineffective in isolation.
The overriding focus of donor engagement, he says, must be the finalization and funding of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. That strategy must be seen to deliver genuine results in response to priorities defined by the communities themselves.
In regard to regional relations, he says the Government must retain the trust of its neighbours by engaging constructively in bilateral and multilateral initiatives on narcotics, migration and other regional issues. In addition, the recognition of the cross-border nature of the insurgency by President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf creates an opportunity for a joint strategy to defeat extremism and terrorism in both countries.
National reconciliation will require agreement on which insurgent leaders ought to be subject to military operations or law enforcement and which political forces, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, were capable of contributing to a peace process. In that regard, it was vital for all Member States to implement relevant sanctions.
In the report, the Secretary-General also stresses that measures must be taken by the Government to combat arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, including full implementation of the Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice. In regard to presidential elections, to be held in 2009, he emphasizes the importance of the adoption of the electoral law by the end of 2007 and reiterates his appeal to donors for electoral support.
TOM KOENIGS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, welcomed the continuing international attention on Afghanistan. The three meetings in the past month on the situation in the country included a 3 October meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, took a number of positive steps, but which highlighted deficits in the area of regional coordination. That must be addressed by the creation of regional units in lead Afghan Government ministries, led by a reinforced Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by expanding multilateral approaches to enduring stability for the country.
Coordination of international and Afghan military actors had improved, he said, and there had been significant tactical military success in the South and East since the last briefing in March, with the level of violence subsiding. Compared to last year, however, the number of violent incidents was up approximately 30 per cent, with a significant increase in civilian casualties -– at least 1,200 had been killed since January.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) would be at around 47,000 by the end of the year, and the poor standards of the national police (ANP) would soon be addressed, he continued. However, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) still represented the most viable defence against the insurgency and must stand firm. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must work with the Government and with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure that an integrated political-military strategy and a shared security plan for Afghanistan, taking all sectors into account, were a source of strength against violence.
Key to the success of such a strategy, he said, was a greater inclusion of Afghan civilian and military leaders, as well as international civilian actors, in the planning of security operations. In addition, an oversight mechanism for human rights must be created, especially as regards the Afghan security services mandates. He was deeply troubled by the recent execution of 15 prisoners by the Government.
The biggest threat to the civilian population, he said, was not suicide attacks, which garnered the most attention, but the ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction and execution being carried out by the anti-government elements against anyone who seemed to be connected to the Government or the international community. It was imperative to protect such persons, as well as all civilians. He was pleased at recent concrete steps taken in that regard by ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom. The Council itself had reinforced those efforts by adding new language to the ISAF mandate extension.
He stressed, however, that there could be no further delays in addressing the twin challenges of governance and outreach, and the provision of security and opportunity at the community level. A just institutional framework must be created to achieve those goals. The creation last month of the independent directorate for local governance was belated, and its mandate must still be refined into concrete and manageable tasks assigned across ministries and pursued with determination. He called for international support for that unit.
For the dangers of weak governance, he said a disjointed international approach and a lack of Afghan leadership had also allowed a 34 per cent increase in opium production this year. Success had come in areas, such as the Balkh province, where Afghans had led the effort. Opium cultivation must be stemmed to avoid the creation of a perpetual narco-State. The 12-point action plan committed to by the Government and its international partners through the Policy Action Group on 10 October was commendable, but required greater political will supported by a strengthened United Nations role.
He said capacity-building in all institutions was necessary to combat corruption, with government and international efforts aligned, as they had been in the building of the Afghan National Army. Much had been improved in the Afghan National Police, but the effort had been hampered because the senior leadership in the Ministry of Interior had proved resistant to accountability and transparency. The absence of a unified vision for the police that addressed the requirements of law enforcement and counterinsurgency had perpetuated an environment of a patronage and corruption. In addition, 1,000 policemen had lost their lives this year to the insurgency. The Government and the international community must urgently develop a structure for the police that embraces both functions.
Turning to national reconciliation, he said that it required a comprehensive strategy, defined by the Afghan Constitution. Although some Taliban commanders had made overtures for dialogue, negotiations with the top leadership of the Taliban were not now in prospect. The August peace Jirga should be followed up by a range of concrete confidence-building measures promoting peace led by the Government and actively supported by the international community, especially by Afghanistan’s neighbours. Progress would depend on both Afghanistan and Pakistan undertaking outreach with the political leaders capable of contributing to the peace process.
Meanwhile, there were welcome signs that the democratic institutions in the country were maturing, with the passing of legislation governing a wide range of areas. In particular, a Media Law had kept the independence of the media largely protected. In addition, there was a growing diversity of parties participating in the Government under the formation of the National United Front. At the same time, there were tensions between the executive and the Parliament caused by the President’s stance on the vote of no confidence against the Foreign Minister. He encouraged a strong partnership between President Hamid Karzai and the National Assembly. He also urged the international community to support election preparations for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary cycles.
The electorate at that time would be considering their welfare measured primarily through perceptions of security and opportunity. For many, the past few years had been very difficult -– there were more than 30,000 internally displaced persons, and many others who could not access humanitarian services. Education was often under attack, especially for girls, polio continued to be endemic, and natural disasters continued to compound the development challenges faced by many communities.
The UNAMA, he said, would continue to play its central supporting role and take new initiatives where it could make a meaningful contribution, especially through its 17 offices in the field. With a view to reinforcing its provincial and regional offices, UNAMA would request a moderate increase in international posts, including security advisory positions, in its 2008 budget submission.
Despite the many serious challenges faced, he said it was heartening to be able to report the involvement of several thousand people in peace marches on 21 September, partly resulting from UNAMA-peace communication efforts and from a coordinated health campaign. He commended the clear resolve of the Afghan people, battered now by nearly 30 years of war and conflict, to build on their achievement of the past six years by contributing to a genuine peace process -– one embracing civil society, tribal groups, elected representatives and the legitimate Government, and engaging all in a common effort to make national reconciliation a real prospect.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said the international community must continue to stand united in support of the Afghan Government and people and reaccelerate State building, create a robust agriculture to counter poppy production and strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights. It must also support the Government in exerting its authority throughout the country. Afghanistan had made significant progress, but was going through a critical transition. Six million Afghan children were now in school, and over 2 million of them were girls. Economic growth stood at 8 per cent, and there had been progress in areas of health, road-building and other areas.
He said security was still a concern, as the Taliban were increasingly relying on terrorizing the population and undermining the Government through suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices. That violence was not evidence that the strategy of the international community had failed, but evidence of how much the international community was needed. Afghans were eager to take on a greater role in their own security, and increased training and mentoring had increased the capability of the national army. Joint efforts to train and mentor police must be increased. It was essential that the unity and commitment of the international community was maintained. While the international community’s assistance had been great, needs were greater still. With the need for more assistance came the need for better coordination.
NASSER BIN ABDULAZIZ AL NASSER ( Qatar) said the future of Afghanistan was subject to achieving the goals and objectives of the Bonn Agreement, concluded almost six years ago. The process of political transition resulting from that agreement had been disrupted. The country was in need of a genuine internal unity. However, there was an intense insurgency led by the Taliban that relied increasingly on suicide attacks. The worsening security situation was a phase that must be dealt with as soon as possible, as only a tiny percentage of the country lived in security and stability. Security was linked to reconstruction, development and the fight against drugs. Military strategies must, therefore, go hand in hand with plans of development and national reconciliation.
He said the drugs issue remained one of the difficult obstacles to achieving stability and security. Because poppy cultivation had increased by 17 per cent and opium production could possibly increase by 34 per cent, the implementation of the national strategy to combat drugs had not achieved satisfactory results. Greater focus and planning must target areas like Khelmand and the eastern province of Nangarhar, major sources of the poppy cultivation, to provide alternative income for the farmers.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said, with the help of the United Nations and the international community, Afghanistan had achieved progress in economic development. The Government had taken measures to combat corruption and achieve reconciliation. Also, the country had become self-sufficient in food supplies, had achieved sustained economic growth, and infant and maternal mortality rate had decreased. However, extremists and terrorists constituted a serious threat to stability. Economic and social development could not satisfy basic needs, and the poppy culture had increased.
He said security was the primary questions facing Afghanistan. More resources were needed to expedite the reform of army and police forces. The functions of Government needed to be strengthened. Accelerated economic development was the key to stability. A strong team of civil servants was also needed. The United Nations should continue to play a central and coordinating role in reconstruction. He hoped that the international community would provide more material and human resources to the United Nations Mission. Regional cooperation was essential in achieving stability.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), aligning himself with the statement to be made by Portugal on behalf of the European Union, said that the situation, as described by the Secretary-General’s Representative, gave rise for both hope and concern. The uncertainty arose from the terror waged by insurgent groups, other armed groups, drug dealers and warlords. He deplored the deterioration of the human rights situation that went along with such violence. He called on UNAMA to be extremely vigilant in that regard. He urged the Afghan Government, in addition, to observe a moratorium on capital punishment.
Reform of the security and justice sectors were needed, and the Government responsibilities in those areas and others must be realized. He supported the Government of President Karzai, but stressed it must live up to its commitments. It was urgent for the United Nations to continue to be the voice of the Afghan people.
JOHAN VERBEKE (Belgium), aligning himself with the statement to be made by Portugal on behalf of the European Union, said that he agreed with both the Secretary-General’s report and the briefing of his representative on the necessity of a global approach, with more coordination. The rise in the production of opium was very worrisome, and the Government must take the necessary measures there against corruption. He welcomed the European Union police effort and support to elections in the near future. He regretted, however, the recent executions and a lack of progress for women.
Suicide attacks in Kabul showed that greater efforts must be made to ensure security for the Afghan people. Recent regional efforts gave hope in that regard, and Belgium, would continue to contribute to ISAF for that purpose, devoting particular attention to training airport personnel in the near future. The sanctions regime on the Taliban and their associates, in addition, remained a powerful tool.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) said that, although there had been significant achievements, the deterioration of the situation internally and the increasing poppy culture in Afghanistan were of great concern to the Council. There was a need to reassess the strategies and tactics used and correct the activities of the Government and the international community. The situation was increasingly complex, because of the issue of narcotics. Taliban, Al Qaida and other terrorist groups were acting together with criminal sector. The Afghan State must adjust its security and reconciliation strategy and security must be taken up as a priority by the Afghan citizens.
He said the strategy to fight drug trafficking was not working. Regional and international cooperation were more necessary than ever. He stressed the importance of the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to attack the drug front in a shared responsibility with the Government. There was a necessity to immediately address the fact that 3 million Afghans were living from drug production. There could be no strong democracy if there was no plurality and unity of action. Afghanistan needed sustained and permanent attention, not just to strengthen security, but also to reduce poverty and increase reconstruction.
LUC JOSPEPH OKIO ( Congo) said the situation in Afghanistan was a source of concern, but also one of hope. Because the activities of the Taliban destabilized the situation in Afghanistan, there was an urgent need to strengthen the capacity of the armed forces and the police. The fact that the production of opium had become a source of income for the Taliban was a matter of concern, and he supported, in that regard, the recommendations of the Secretary-General. The Afghan Government was also weak in fighting corruption, a scourge that had affected several levels of society. He supported the recommendations to reform police, national army and the judicial sector, with the support of the international community.
He welcomed the fact that Afghanistan was improving relations with its neighbours. The commitment of Afghanistan and Pakistan to tackle joint problems, including opium and terrorism, were positive steps, as was the agreement signed with Iran on cooperation. The matter of Afghan refugees must be addressed with urgency and required consistent commitment from the international community.
RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) expressed concern at the increase in violence and its clear links to criminality and corruption. Political will on the part of all partners was needed to make sure no more deterioration occurred in the security sector. The regional effort was also crucial, particularly joint efforts between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Perhaps a change in strategy in fighting insurgents was also needed -- away from the heavy use of air strikes, which alienated the population. An integrated approach, including all sectors and actors, was critical.
DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said the Government was making commendable progress in areas such as economy, reconstruction and development, and strengthening of democratic institutions. However, poppy cultivation and production had experienced an unprecedented increase, which constituted a growing threat to national security, social stability and governmental effectiveness. He called on the Government to put additional efforts into implementing the national drug control strategy. Recognizing the link between narcotics and development, he encouraged the Government to provide alternative livelihoods to farmers and to improve its institutional capacity for service delivery and development in support for viable alternatives to poppy cultivation. He also called upon the international community to rally behind Afghan-led efforts aimed at curbing the drug problem through development. Welcoming the improved relations between Afghanistan and her neighbours, he stressed the importance of regional cooperation.
DUSAN MATULAY (Slovakia), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said that, despite the fact that it was almost six years since the end of the previous regime and the role of the United Nations had been instrumental in the progress achieved, the situation continued to deteriorate. That decline included the fact that the country had become one of the world’s leading producers of opium and that the Taliban challenged the Government’s authority. The situation was complex, but, at the end of the day, only security and positive economic outlooks mattered.
He said security must be addressed as a matter of priority, as must the widespread corruption among the police and the judicial sector. Security sector reform must go hand in hand with development. Further, too many actors were implementing development strategies. Fragmentation of foreign aid must be seriously addressed. The UNAMA had played an indispensable role in contributing to security and development and would continue to play a role in, among other things, coordinating humanitarian assistance, supporting regional cooperation and protecting human rights.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement to be made by Portugal on behalf of the European Union, said democracy was taking root in Afghanistan, and the task of the international community was to nourish and support it. There was much more to do, especially in the area of institutional challenges and security. Afghanistan also needed the support of its neighbours. He condemned the continuing use of violence and agreed that an integrated civilian-military strategy was needed. Rule of law was particularly important, and the European Union policing mission played a key role in that. His country was also supporting outreach efforts towards reconciliation. Although there was some progress in opium eradication, it remained a growing problem in the south, and efforts to stem the problem should be increased.
MARTY NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that addressing the security challenges in Afghanistan was a matter of urgency, and he recognized actions taken by the Afghan National Army in that regard. The protection of civilians during security actions was extremely important, as was political dialogue involving all actors in Afghanistan. Every single Afghan must embrace a new Afghanistan and must become involved in building their country. In regard to the threat of opium, he welcomed regional agreements and Afghan-led initiatives. Fighting corruption was also crucial, as well as timely adoption of election laws. He welcomed Afghanistan’s efforts to deal with security and other matters in a regional context, and urged continued international support to the country.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that, over the last six years, Afghanistan had achieved a certain success in State building, but the situation remained unstable and tense. That situation was due, foremost, to the continued activities of the Taliban and other extremists and lack of progress in the economic and social sector. As the Taliban was in control of certain regions and had established parallel State structures, the extremist ringleaders must be isolated, especially those who were on the sanctions list. But, rank-and-file Taliban should be offered a return to normal life. Because the activities of terrorists was fuelled mainly by drug trafficking, anti-drug efforts in the country and the region must be stepped up.
The recent Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization had shown the potential of that organization in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, he continued. His country had proposed a regional conference on Afghanistan under the aegis of that organization. As there was a need to focus on the revival of the Afghan economy, the Russian Federation was participating in a number of projects to restore energy structures, among other things, and had signed an agreement with Afghanistan on its international debt.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said it was crucial to stand together in supporting the Afghan people, rallying behind the impartial and central role of the United Nations. In the complex scenario of Afghanistan, coordination was the only recipe for success. Sometimes, the Organization fell short of its objectives, simply because coordination mechanisms were not in place or were not properly used. The Compact Framework and the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board were essential in that regard and must be further consolidated. The Council had called for synergies between UNAMA and ISAF, and between them and the Afghan Government. Such calls must be translated into action to ensure that the military, political and reconstruction efforts made a positive difference in the life of the Afghan people, rather than the opposite. Efforts to prevent popular alienation should be reinforced by improved governance and rule of law, and to promote national reconciliation.
He expressed regret at the sudden interruption of the de facto moratorium on executions. A moratorium was particularly important in those cases where further progress was still needed in the reform of law enforcement agencies and the judicial sector. Italy was committed to helping the Afghan authorities build a professional, accountable and effective justice system.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President LESLIE K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) said a number of concrete recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report deserved careful consideration. Although the support of the international community was crucial, it was equally essential that the leadership of Afghanistan made effective use of all available opportunities to strengthen the rule of law, promote human rights, alleviate the humanitarian crises and strengthen the integrity of the State. The Government must be resolute in purging from security, law enforcement and judiciary services those elements whose activities eroded public confidence.
He said the problematic security situation was also contributing to the widespread human rights abuses. The problem of the security sector went beyond capacity building and shortage of personnel. It was a function of the strength of the leadership in confronting those forces that thrived best in a climate of violence and lawlessness. The marked improvement in relations between Afghanistan and her neighbours, particularly India and Pakistan, was a positive development that had the potential of changing the dynamics of the security situation. He urged the Government of Afghanistan to speed up reform of the security sector, so that it could take full advantage of the new momentum for cooperation with her neighbours.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said Afghanistan was no longer a base for international terrorism, Rather, it had become the front line from which countries had joined hands in the fight against terrorism. It was also making steady progress in consolidating democratic institutions. At the same time, there were daunting challenges, including security, rule of law and governance, reconstruction and narcotics eradication. Heinous terrorist acts would in no way weaken his country’s resolve to make progress in all those areas. Its security forces continued to serve in the most difficult conditions alongside international partners, and had had many strategic successes.
He called for increased support to Afghanistan’s armed forces to improve security, but said it was evident that addressing terrorism and improving security would not be achieved by military means alone. Basic services and employment must be improved and civilian casualties avoided. More must also be done to address the regional dimension of the terrorist problem, and to focus on reconciliation to encourage “non-terrorist Taliban” to refrain from subversive activities.
He said that Afghanistan had been taking initiatives to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan to address terrorism and other problems, including through the Jirga, the second session of which would be held in Pakistan in the near future. Narcotics was another major challenge that required regional initiatives, including a more robust effort from transit and consuming countries. In regard to the Afghan Compact, he said that it was time to redouble efforts on meeting goals by designated timelines and on improving the effectiveness, accountability and utilization of development assistance. While expressing gratitude to donors, he stressed the need to ensure delivery of pledges in a timely manner.
In conclusion, he highlighted the importance of national ownership of the reconciliation process, increased coordination and cooperation among all key participants in the Afghan Compact, and expansion of UNAMA’s presence to additional parts of the country.
JOÃO MANUEL GUERRA SALGUEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), led by NATO since August 2003, had been crucial in improving security. However, it was important to increase the effective professionalism and accountability of the Afghan security sector. The Union was concerned at the intensified Taliban-led insurgency, as well as at the expansion of opium-poppy cultivation. The link between the drug trade and the insurgency, as well as stalled efforts to fight corruption, was even more worrisome. It was crucial that Afghanistan should have a viable police force. The European Police Mission (EUPOL) was working towards an Afghan police force that respected human rights and operated within the framework of the rule of law. The EUPOL was being complemented by the European Commission’s Justice Sector Reform programme.
He said the insurgency could not be defeated by military means alone. The Union, therefore, fully supported UNAMA’s role in helping the Government to find political and regional solutions to the challenges faced. He encouraged UNAMA to focus on consolidating its current presence and, security conditions permitting, to continue its expansion. UNAMA’s increased field presence had enabled engagement with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. There was an urgent need for an integrated political and military strategy that could complement the Afghan National Development Strategy.
He welcomed the more collaborative atmosphere that had begun to prevail in Afghan-Pakistani relations, in which it was recognized that terrorism was a shared challenge. Peace, security and stability in Afghanistan could not be achieved without the positive support of the countries in the region. An Afghan commitment was needed on good governance by appointing qualified government officials with a good human rights record, as well as by implementing the anti-corruption road map, among other things. The Union had learned with deep regret of the recent execution of 15 people and urged the Government to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing it. He stressed the importance of the adoption of the electoral law by the end of 2007, because that was vital in preparing for the presidential elections that would take place in 2009.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) applauded the increasing effectiveness of the Afghan National Army in bringing stability to the lives of Afghans. Although the security situation remained challenging, there was some real progress in key areas. In Kandahar, where Canadian troops were stationed, the Taliban had been dislodged from some former strongholds. Tangible progress was also achieved across the country in other areas. Those achievements contributed to the vision of the future expressed in the Afghanistan Compact. To succeed, international efforts must be mirrored by the consistent commitment of the Afghan Government. Activating the Senior Appointments Panel, a key Compact benchmark, would demonstrate the Government’s commitment to anti-corruption. Consolidation of the rule of law was an essential condition for sustainable development and lasting peace and stability. A robust police force was a critical element, in that regard.
He said Canada strongly supported the Government’s opposition to legalizing opium production. The issue was complex and multifaceted. A comprehensive approach was required, which must include the consolidation of an effective justice system and the provision of sustained economic opportunities. He welcomed the positive outcome of the cross-border Peace Jirga held in Kabul in August. The situation in Afghanistan clearly demonstrated the need to address the security, development and governance elements of reconstruction simultaneously. Achieving the goals in Afghanistan, as set out in the Afghanistan Compact, would require the collective effort, imagination and innovative thinking of everyone involved in the international reconstruction effort.
PIET DE KLERK ( Netherlands) said the Council had rightly underscored the synergy in objectives between the United Nations and ISAF. The ISAF had shown that it could deliver basic security within the Afghan Development Zones, as was being underlined by the activities of the Netherlands (with 1,800 troops) and Australia in Uruzgan. The Taliban was under pressure in the troubled southern provinces. The ISAF was an assistance force, providing security and stability so that the legitimate Afghan Government, in cooperation with international organizations, could succeed. It was not a reconstruction entity. He would, therefore, like to see more complementarily between the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. He urged UNAMA to open offices in all southern provinces, as a matter of priority.
He said the urgent challenge right now was to bring better governance to the people of Afghanistan, including in the more distant provinces. The people were growing impatient and wanted a central and provincial government that offered the basic services they had been promised since 2002. As for counter-narcotics, he said there was a need for patience and long-term commitment to poverty reduction, more specifically rural development. The Dutch experience in Uruzgan had taught that, though eradication was an integral part of the counter-narcotic strategy, eradication should not be performed in isolation, but should be preceded by providing viable alternatives. Spraying was not an option, as it was too indiscriminate and had too many health risks.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that signs of progress notwithstanding, the challenges facing Afghanistan were enormous, including the issues of security, narcotic and corruption. Sustained and coordinated international efforts in assisting the country were essential. He underscored the central role the United Nations had been playing in coordinating international efforts to address those and other challenges. The security situation remained a source of deep concern. In addressing the threats posed by terrorists in Afghanistan, sustained international efforts were needed. Resolution 1776 had stressed the necessity of such international efforts. Japan was determined to continue its supply operations to the vessels conducting maritime interdiction operations.
He shared the concern of others at the linkage between the narcotics issue, reconstruction and nation-building, saying that counter-narcotics actions must be strengthened, together with capacity building. Japan had promoted comprehensive rural development. To date, his country had implemented assistance amounting to $1.24 billion, and would implement the remaining $210 million of the amount pledged at the London conference, with particular focus on improvement of the security situation and advancing economic development.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) commended the Afghan people for their remarkable achievements, which he said had been achieved despite immense challenges. A key to addressing those challenges was to increase the capability, autonomy and integrity of the Afghan National Police and Army. Another important element was the reconstruction of infrastructure and institutions in the country, for which the money that was now being expended to support foreign forces could be used.
Iran, he said, had always strongly condemned the Taliban’s terrorism, as a nation that was afflicted by its heinous acts. As recently as the past few months, terrorists affiliated to that group and Al-Qaida had infiltrated into Iran and killed innocent civilians and law enforcement personnel. For those reasons, he warned against any appeasement of the Taliban. Narcotics, he said, presented another serious threat, and it was vital to break the link between opium cultivation and terrorism. A more resolute approach by both the international community and the Afghan Government was needed. Iran, for its part, had fought a costly war single-handedly against drug traffickers, losing about 4,000 law enforcement officers in the effort.
His country, he said, had also been one of the strongest supporters of the Afghan nation and Government in recent years, believing that a secure and developed Afghanistan was essential for the security and stability of the region. Iran had embraced millions of Afghan refugees, and had contributed much in terms of developmental assistance. He fully supported the central role played by the United Nations in Afghanistan.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said the central task in Afghanistan involved addressing the socio-economic challenges that were the result of decades of strife, destruction and privation. The collective goal of the international community must be to build upon the significant successes recorded thus far, and to redouble the political and economic commitment to help Afghanistan. The challenge of terrorism, in particular the growth in suicide attacks, cross-border infiltration and the nexus between terrorism and drug trafficking, required a robust international political solution and a stronger domestic military response. As for the developmental challenge, the good work being undertaken by the international community could only be sustained in the long term if investments were made in developing Afghan human resources, so that the Afghan people could take ownership of development projects.
Describing India’s assistance programmes to Afghanistan, he said that, as a country with traditionally close historic, cultural and regional links with Afghanistan, it was natural that India saw regional cooperation as a pillar for stabilizing the country. Afghanistan’s entry into the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation in April would provide the region with lasting benefits in free trade and shared economic activities. Other important regional cooperation events had also taken place over the past few years. However, the central challenge remained the need to develop coordinated measures to implement the programmes formulated in those regional processes.
JOHAN LØVALD ( Norway), aligning himself with the statement of Portugal on behalf of the European Union, said that it was essential that the Afghan Government institutions enjoyed increased legitimacy in the eyes of its people. Therefore, all efforts towards development and reconstruction must be in coherence with Afghan priorities and plans, nationally as well as locally. Better coordination had been urged before -- it was, indeed, worrying that inadequate coordination was still a factor to be discussed. Coordination took leadership; the mantle of leadership in Afghanistan must be bestowed upon the United Nations.
He said that the United Nations, in turn, must assume its leadership role, within a continued effort towards capacity building, so that Afghan authorities could enhance their expertise in formulating goals, plans and priorities. In that way, the Afghan people could see evidence of government progress. In those efforts, the United Nations must be given the wherewithal to take on the leadership role; differing views on the question of a Special Envoy should not block efforts to provide such support, in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said a multitude of problems challenged stability and security in Afghanistan, including governance, drugs, lack of development, as well as insecurity. Drugs were a grave and present danger to the entire effort in that country. A comprehensive and fair strategy to combat narcotics must break the link between drugs and financing of terrorism and criminality. Capacity building of national security institutions and their use for counter-insurgency would be a positive development. Properly trained, equipped and paid people with good ethics were also necessary. Economic development and reconstruction remained slow and uneven, especially regarding employment in rural areas. Non-fulfilment of commitments was a perennial problem.
He said the Secretary-General’s report had noted that, apart from insurgent and terrorist activity, insecurity was also caused by factional infighting, criminal activity and warlords. It was, therefore, important to resist the temptation to externalize the security challenges in the country. There was also a rise in extremism and the Taliban. It should be understood that the Taliban were part of Afghan society and that many could be won over. He welcomed, in that regard, President Karzai’s offer of dialogue and reconciliation and regretted the rejection of some Taliban leaders. He hoped that the Pakistan/Afghanistan Peace Jirga would be able to contribute to reconciliation. A winning strategy in Afghanistan would have to be a comprehensive one, combining military, economic, political and administrative measures. Peace should be won painstakingly, region by region, since circumstances were different in each area.
Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan covered military, intelligence, border control and development cooperation, he said, which had enabled many of the successes against the Taliban. “ Pakistan has a solemn responsibility not to allow support for the Taliban insurgency or Al-Qaida to flow across from our border region.” It had, therefore, employed 100,000 troops, and had lost 1,000 military personnel, more than any other country. Cross-border activities was a joint responsibility of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the coalition forces. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had reached an agreement to close down four Afghan refugee camps close to the border, as they served as a source for cross-border militants. The closing of the camps was being delayed because of reluctance on the part of a United Nations agency to facilitate the return of the refugees. The UNAMA had, unfortunately, displayed a certain political insensitivity and lack of impartiality in its reports and actions.
He said there were no two countries that were as close as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Peace Jirga would address the common challenges of terrorism and extremism. Both countries must be conscious of the “machinations of outsiders” that wanted to create “distrust and mischief”, he said.
Mr. KOENIGS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, thanked the Council for its support to UNAMA, which, he said, faced not only the challenges of a post-conflict mission, but also the resurgence of a conflict. The priorities were clear: security and security sector reform, narcotics, governance and reconstruction. Out of those, governance was most important, because counter-insurgency could only be successful if the legally elected Government increased its legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Finally, he said that Afghanistan’s efforts and the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan could and should become a peacemaking factor for the region. Instabilities in the region, however, should not doom efforts for peacebuilding and stability in Afghanistan.
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