|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6574th Meeting (AM)
Transition in Afghanistan on Track, but Must Be Underpinned by Socio-economic
Development to Succeed, Top Official Tells Security Council
Attacks Will Not Shake Government Determination, Vows Permanent Representative
With Afghanistan set for a mid-July launch of its two-year transition process — covering security, governance and efforts to bring opposition groups into the political mainstream — the top United Nations official in that country told the Security Council today that the “train was on track and moving forward”, but to be successful, it must be underpinned by the socio-economic development that the Afghan people so desperately needed and deserved.
“ Afghanistan is at a crossroads — between national sovereignty and responsibility, between continuing conflict and politically inclusive dialogue,” said Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Briefing the Council, he said that, while the phased transition would begin this month in seven Afghan provinces, July would also see the initial drawdown of coalition forces announced by President Barack Obama of the United States, towards a complete transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan forces in mid-2014.
As in any similar case, the “devil will be in the details”, he said, stressing, however, that according to every indicator, Afghanistan was set to move forward. Yet, the transition could not and should not be only about security, he emphasized. Ordinary Afghans must recognize and identify with what was taking place, and the transition must, therefore, be linked to social, economic and human rights aspects. Building around such issues was the only way to ensure that the transition would be “solidly irreversible”.
He said that, while there was a perception of improvement in the security situation, he could not fail to note last week’s “shocking” attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. “Many of [us] have been there and know the iconic value of that hotel,” he said, citing troubling anti-Government attacks in Kandahar, Herat and other cities. But he urged the Council to see such events in context, pointing out that, while they were of grave concern, they had all been effectively addressed by Afghan military and police forces.
Turning to other pressing issues, he supported calls for a “political surge” that would bolster the promotion of human rights, end lingering disputes following last year’s legislative elections, and, importantly, help reconciliation among Afghan parties. “The need for dialogue is clear,” he said, stressing that, while there had been “many contacts” between Afghan authorities and other parties, including Taliban and non-Taliban elements, such efforts were sometimes undercut by media leaks. However, there were indications that contacts would be re-launched, he noted.
Overall, he said, the coming period would be marked by transition in every sense, and there was a message that the Afghan people needed to hear: “2014 is not going to be like 1989.” Indeed, there was a feeling among them that they would once again be “graciously abandoned” by the international community when the transition was completed in 2014. “We need to constantly reassure them that we will be there as long as they want and need us to be,” he concluded.
Afghanistan’s representative then took the floor, saying: “Transition is a rousing call for Afghans to take the lead, for national ownership and leadership and for the Government of Afghanistan to assume its sovereign responsibilities.” While the Government continued its crucial efforts to make the process “smooth and viable”, certain preconditions must be met, he said, noting in that regard that Afghanistan looked to its international partners to expedite the training and equipping of its security forces.
Describing the recent spate of sophisticated attacks as a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt by Afghanistan’s enemies, he said they were designed to instil fear, hinder international support and convince war-weary audiences in some countries that the struggle was unwinnable. Yet, the Government’s determination to ensure peace and stability would not be shaken, and the reconciliation process would be pursued as a matter of priority, consistent with the view that there was no purely military solution and that transition required an inclusive settlement.
He said the Council’s recent decision to separate the Taliban and Al-Qaida sanctions regimes was an “astute move”, and expressed appreciation for its decision to meet Afghanistan’s de-listing requests. There was a need to focus on acceding to those requests that remained unmet. As for the killing of civilians, he said the Taliban were primarily responsible, “displaying a total lack of conscience when pulling the trigger”, but the number of casualties caused by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces remained significant. There must be an immediate end to all civilian casualties, he emphasized, adding: “We must think beyond ending the war towards ensuring sustainable progress across all sectors — security, governance and development.”
Among the Council members taking the floor, the representative of the United States said her country planned to withdraw its forces by 2014, adding that through that transition, the United States would transform its role from combat to support. On the 2010 elections, she said the independent institutions established to run them had performed professionally and admirably, in difficult conditions and despite allegations of fraud. The United States nevertheless urged Afghan political leaders and institutions to deal comprehensively with those allegations.
Pakistan’s representative, among the non-Council members to take the floor, said his country’s commitment to peace in Afghanistan was unwavering. “Indeed, the cause of regional peace will not be served if Afghanistan is to become a theatre of proxy wars, or its land used for extra-territorial subversive activities,” he said. Long-term solutions to such challenges lay in workable reconciliation and reintegration processes. An Afghanistan at peace with itself could best ensure its own security, he pointed out, adding that his country supported an Afghan-led and inclusive process, with a view to bringing opposition groups into the political mainstream.
Other speakers today were representatives of Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Portugal, China, United Kingdom, Gabon, South Africa, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Lebanon, India, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Turkey.
Also delivering a statement was the Acting Head of the European Union delegation.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 1:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Afghanistan and to hear a briefing on the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in that country.
STAFFAN DE MISTURA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that with many momentous changes on the horizon, Afghanistan was at a “special crossroads”. Its phased transition process was about to get under way in seven provinces by mid-month, and July was also the month that would see the beginning of the drawdown announced by President Barack Obama of some 33,000 coalition forces over the next 12 months, heading towards a complete transition to Afghan responsibility for security in mid-2014.
“So, with this transition, Afghanistan is at a crossroads — between national sovereignty and responsibility, between continuing conflict and politically inclusive dialogue,” he said. Comparing the transition to a train, he said, “and this one is moving forward”. According to every indicator, the train was on track and, while the devil would be in the details as usual, Afghanistan was moving forward. The transition could not and should not be only about security, he stressed. Indeed, it must be something which ordinary Afghan people recognized and with which they identified. As such, it must include social, economic and human rights elements, the only way to ensure that it became solidly irreversible. UNAMA was doing its part to that end, he said, noting that the Mission was also participating in the nascent discussions on the possibility of linking some socio-economic enhancement projects to the so-called transition dividend that might result from a decrease in military activities.
He went on to note that the security situation had recently become a matter of concern, particularly the “shocking” attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel Kabul. “Many of us have been there and know the iconic value of that hotel,” he said, citing other troubling Taliban-led attacks in Kandahar and other cities. Yet, he urged the Council to see such events in context, pointing out that they had all been effectively addressed by Afghan military and police forces. Though perhaps “a bit confusing” at first, because those forces were still undergoing training, the results had nevertheless been effective. Afghan forces had been in the lead and that was an important point.
There had been an improvement, and where there were challenges, the Afghan people had been able to handle it, he continued. However, there were bound to be some moments of great concern. There was a need to address civilian casualties, he said, expressing support for the call by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a “political surge” to bolster reconciliation among the Afghan parties. While there had been many contacts between the national authorities and other parties, including Taliban and non-Taliban elements, such efforts were sometimes undercut by media leaks, he said, noting that there were indications that contacts would be re-launched.
The United Nations was assisting talks among the parties, but also prompting confidence-building measures by and among Afghans, he said. The Security Council’s recent decision to highlight the difference between Al-Qaida and Taliban was a step in the right direction “if we want to see a pursuit of real reconciliation”. Perhaps some effort should be taken to identify a venue for talks where the Taliban and the Afghan authorities could talk in a secure and neutral environment.
If there was one vital and obvious change on the ground since militant groups had been turned back, it was the major improvement in the area of education, he said, noting that 7 million children were currently attending school, many of them girls. As for the reintegration process, the institutional architecture was in place and more than 1,800 people were in the programme. Yet, challenges persisted and it was clear that until there was real reconciliation between and among Afghan parties, those numbers would not increase dramatically. He stressed the need to be “very careful” about vetting procedures for those taking part in the reintegration process, and to focus on the regional dimensions.
For its part, the Mission had been closely following recent meetings involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, he said. There was no question that there were some “clouds” at the regional level, but they should not be over-dramatized. Specifically, it was to be hoped that recent incidents along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border would be addressed by the respective national authorities, and that ongoing bilateral discussions between the two were headed in the right direction.
At a time of a possible gradual change of focus on Afghanistan, there was a concern that military reduction would make the narco-economy more appealing, he cautioned, noting that the illicit trade was affecting Afghanistan as well as its neighbours. “If there is one area where the United Nations will be remembered, it is for holding high the flag of human rights in Afghanistan.” Further on that point, he stressed that the popular support that insurgent elements believed they enjoyed would be affected by a significant drop in the number of civilian casualties.
On other issues, he said there were now 69 women in Parliament but he was still concerned about the general situation of women in the country. It was also a matter of concern that children were being used as suicide bombers and fighters. Regarding the parliamentary crisis, he said a special court had indicated that 61 MPs should leave their posts, but the solution was political rather than judicial. UNAMA was working to ensure that the crisis was resolved, he said. “This is a cloud, but we are not expecting much rain.”
Overall, he said, the coming period would be marked by a transition in every sense, but there was a message that the Afghan people needed to hear: “2014 is not going to be 1989.” Indeed, there was a fear among the Afghan people that they would again be “graciously abandoned” by the international community, when the transition was completed in 2014. “We need to constantly reassure them that we will be there as long as they want and need us to be,” he stressed.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said that as the world entered a post-bin Laden era, his country, the greatest victim of terrorism, was at a critical juncture in its quest for peace and stability. Indeed, it had begun the transition process, with the first stages to be implemented in seven provinces within the coming days. “Transition is a rousing call for Afghans to take the lead, for national ownership and leadership and for the Government of Afghanistan to assume its sovereign responsibilities,” he stressed.
He went on to underline that the transition was a carefully formulated, comprehensive strategy that presupposed not only a gradual transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces through the end of 2014, but also a conscientious drawdown of international forces, the accelerated training of the Afghan army and police, the strengthening of governance, a new regional agenda for multifaceted cooperation, and the prospect of securing a renewed strategic partnership with the United States and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The Afghan Government continued its crucial efforts to ensure that the process was smooth and viable, he said, noting, however, that certain preconditions must be met. In that regard, Afghanistan looked to its international partners to expedite the training and equipping of its security forces, and to provide them with the necessary enablers. It welcomed the decision by the United States gradually to draw down its forces, considering that decision to be a testament to the steady ability of Afghan security forces and the changing momentum of the war, despite the Taliban’s recent vicious attacks. The Government did not see the drawdown as an “end game”, or the beginning of the international community’s disengagement in Afghanistan, he stressed.
He described the recent spate of sophisticated attacks as a conspicuously well-orchestrated attempt by Afghanistan’s enemies, designed to instil fear, hinder international support and convince war-weary audiences in some countries that the struggle was unwinnable. They were also intended to sabotage future peace talks and undermine the prospects for reconciliation. Underscoring the imperative of ending sanctuaries that continued to produce and prepare ruthless killers and “agents of unending destruction”, he nevertheless stressed that acts of terror would not shake the Government’s determination to ensure peace and stability.
The reconciliation process would be pursued as a matter of priority, consistent with the understanding that there was no purely military solution and that transition required inclusive settlement, he continued. The High Peace Council was engaged in discussions with the Taliban and key regional actors, aimed at ending the violence and achieving a lasting peace. The Government was also beginning to focus equally on the regional dimensions of reconciliation, he said, underscoring the importance of constructive collaboration with Pakistan. Recognizing the necessity of confidence-building measures, he urged the immediate cessation of cross-border attacks and shelling in Kunar and Nangahar provinces.
Describing the Council’s recent decision to separate the Taliban and Al-Qaida sanctions regimes as an “astute move”, he expressed appreciation with its decision to meet Afghanistan’s delisting requests, and urged further focus on acceding to those that remained unmet. He also noted the recent eleventh meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan, held in Kabul in the lead-up to upcoming conference in Istanbul and the international conference to be held in Bonn later this year. President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, last month provided a promising outlook for close cooperation in realizing a common vision of development and peace, he said, noting the subsequent discussions within the trilateral framework involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. The Prime Minister of India had also announced a significant increase in support during his recent visit.
“Securing Afghanistan and its future is about empowering the country, and enabling it to stand on its own and to take charge of its own destiny,” he said, adding that a more harmonized, streamlined and coordinated approach by the United Nations, based on its “One United Nations” approach, would be vital in furthering the Organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. For its part, the Afghan Government would continue to improve governance, enhance its fight against corruption and strengthen transparency and accountability within national institutions. Indeed, the apprehension of two senior Kabul Bank executives implicated in financial mismanagement indicated the Government’s commitment in that respect, he said, emphasizing that a comprehensive investigation of the full “fiasco” was currently underway.
He concluded by stressing that Afghanistan was not facing a constitutional crisis, adding that the Government remained fully committed to resolving, within the framework of a legal and political solution, the dispute that had arisen from irregularities during parliamentary elections. As for the killing of civilians, he said the Taliban were primarily responsible, displaying a total lack of conscience when pulling the trigger, but the number of casualties caused by NATO forces remained significant. There must be an immediate end to all civilian casualties, he emphasized, adding: “We must think beyond ending the war towards ensuring sustainable progress across all sectors — security, governance and development.”
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), condemning the recent attack on UNAMA personnel in the strongest terms, said that while she welcomed the security enhancement project that the Mission was implementing throughout the country, she remained concerned about rising civil unrest. Moreover, the rise in conflict-related casualties should not be treated as a mere unintended consequence of the conflict, she said, adding that all concerned must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. Stressing that there could be no military solution to the conflict, she said that despite the current difficulties, the transition towards the assumption of security responsibilities by Afghan forces must continue to advance. In any scenario, reconciliation efforts remained central to a political solution, and dialogue provided the path to a solid future in Afghanistan.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration processes were important elements of the country’s future, adding that she was encouraged to see that efforts to strengthen them continued to receive strong international support, including through UNAMA. “We reiterate our position that reconciliation and integration are crucial elements of the peace process,” she said, stressing that there was no alternative to reconciliation. Reported progress on the reintegration of insurgents was encouraging, particularly as it included Kandahar. However, while political developments continued to advance, the security situation remained a cause for serious concern, she said, condemning the recent attack on Logar hospital, and all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. Calling on all parties strictly to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, she also urged attention to the increased numbers of displaced persons in the region, and hailed the efforts of United Nations agencies to assist returnees. In that context, she also drew attention to the issue of unexploded ordnance, noting that thus far, only 27 per cent of areas contaminated with landmines had been cleared.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said the increase in the number of security incidents was regrettable, while the growing frequency of public demonstrations against the international civilian and military presence was evolving into a major concern requiring attention. The transition to greater Afghan ownership and leadership, and the agreed timetable for Afghan forces to take the lead on security matters by 2014, must be guided by advances on the field, he said, adding that the efforts of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and the NATO training mission were important in creating the conditions by which national authorities could gradually assume security and governance responsibilities. It was also necessary to continue building relationships with local authorities and community leaders who allowed inclusive dialogue geared towards reconciliation. The recent establishment of a separate Taliban sanctions regime, which recognized a central role for the Afghan Government in delisting processes, would also contribute to reconciliation, he said. Emphasizing the importance of joint regional initiatives to combat the drug problem, he highlighted the constructive and ongoing participation of regional actors in implementing common strategies.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal), recalling the recent attacks against UNAMA in Mazar-i-Sharif, said rising casualties indicated that the battle for Afghanistan continued and must be won, not only on the ground, but also in terms of public opinion, both in Afghanistan and within the international community. While significant efforts were being made to reduce civilian casualties resulting from military action, insurgents remained responsible for the largest share, he said, stressing that it would be extremely useful to build on established activities in providing adequate compensation to civilians for their justified grievances. As for neighbouring States, they could and should play a role in ensuring Afghanistan’s stability, he said, warning, however, that transition was not security. Military success on the ground must translate into an effective governance framework. The historical moment through which Afghanistan was living required undivided attention and commitment, he said, adding that as the country embarked not on a point of arrival, but of departure, the international community must continue to support its efforts.
SUSAN RICE (United States) conveyed her deep and abiding gratitude for the work being carried out by UNAMA and its staff “under difficult circumstances”, adding that the United States had stood with the United Nations in the wake of the brutal attack on the mission in April. It planned to withdraw its forces by 2014 and the Afghan people would then be responsible for their own security. Through that transition, the United States would transform its role from combat to support, she said, explaining that President Obama had decided to reduce the number of forces at a time when it was clear that the Afghan security forces had improved in quality and the momentum been shifted away from the insurgency. Indeed, the Afghan security forces as well as civilians were working hard to reclaim their country after decades of strife.
She said her country had taken tangible steps to support Afghan-led initiatives such as the High Peace Council and the Police Council. The United States had also championed the Security Council’s decision to split the 1267 sanctions regime, which promoted reconciliation but also sent a message to those willing peacefully to rejoin Afghan society. On the 2010 elections, she said the independent institutions established to run the polls had performed professionally and admirably in difficult conditions and despite allegations of fraud. The United States stood by its call on Afghanistan to deal comprehensively with those allegations. The last decade had seen great hardship and sacrifice, but it had also seen great progress, she said, declaring that, with sustained commitment, “we will continue to help the Afghan people build a more prosperous future”.
WANG MIN ( China) said Afghanistan still needed help in areas including security and reconciliation. China stood by all efforts to push the Kabul process through, and stressed that all initiatives should lead to the creation of “an Afghanistan owned by Afghans”. The country’s sovereignty must be respected, and support must be provided for initiatives identified as priorities by the Afghan authorities, he stressed. The international community must deliver on its commitments, especially those aligned with the Afghan National Development Strategy. China supported UNAMA’s central role in coordinating aid to Afghanistan, and as a friendly neighbour, remained committed to good relations. It would continue to work with the international community to ensure that the progress taking place was irreversible, he said.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) extended his Government’s condolences over the deaths of UNAMA staff in Mazar-i-Sharif, and stressed that the Afghan forces would grow in size and capability as they prepared to take the lead in security matters at the end of 2014. The coming drawdown of international forces was a sign of progress, including improvements in the security situation and the growing capability of the Afghan forces. The British Government deeply regretted civilian deaths from military operations, he said, pointing out, however, that insurgent-related civilian casualties outnumbered those caused by Afghan and international forces by a ratio of 8 to 1. Stressing that any political settlement in Afghanistan must be inclusive and respect the rights and interests of all Afghan citizens, he said the death of Osama bin Laden provided the opportunity for the Taliban to break from international terrorism.
Underlining the importance of free and fair elections, he expressed his commitment to working with the Afghan Government on electoral matters. However, the United Kingdom was deeply concerned about the disputed parliamentary elections and called for a separation of powers, guaranteed by the constitution. The irreversible transition on the political track must be supported by development gains, he stressed. As for the incident at the Kabul bank, he called for the rapid resolution of talks on an in-country International Monetary Fund programme. Underlining the need for regional cooperation, he welcomed Turkey’s efforts in that regard.
NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) said that despite recent major progress on the political transition process, the national reconciliation track and the establishment of a joint committee to promote transparency and capacity in public administration, a number of obstacles remained in the areas of security and good governance. Gabon reiterated its call for the Afghan Government to increase its capacity to fight terrorism and corruption, which remained threats to peace and stability. The security and protection of civilians must be a State priority, he said, underscoring the need for the Afghan authorities to assume their responsibilities in that area. The announced withdrawal of international forces confirmed the challenges that Afghanistan faced in assuming its sovereign responsibilities, he said, adding that he shared the Special Representative’s view that security must remain a priority, even as it led to a “transition dividend”.
CEDRICK CHARLES CROWLEY (South Africa), while welcoming the relatively positive developments of the past few months, especially those led by the Afghan authorities, noted that critical challenges remained, including human rights deficiencies and civilian casualties. They required an approach combining security and socio-economic elements, he said, calling on UNAMA and the wider international community to continue helping to that end. Concerned that children continued to get caught up in conflict, he urged the authorities to address that issue as a matter of urgency. Efforts to bolster the role and activities of women in rebuilding the country should also continue.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said political developments should be consolidated through a rigorous reconciliation and reintegration process that would include Taliban and non-Taliban elements, especially in the Kandahar area. The process must ensure that all those participating were genuinely committed to a stable and secure Afghanistan, while also ensuring a renewed and enhanced role for women in the overall peace process. As for security matters, she condemned recent troubling incidents that raised questions about the capacity of Afghan forces to meet the challenges that no doubt lay ahead. There was need for greater capacity-building and training support, as agreed by the international community. On other matters, she said she was concerned that education and health programmes might suffer a reversal unless donors and the Government agreed quickly on a mechanism for implementing identified International Monetary Fund strategies, she said, emphasizing that Afghanistan must become a place of peace and stability.
ALEXANDER A. PANKIN ( Russian Federation) condemned the attacks on United Nations staff in Mazar-i-sharif, the Intercontinental Hotel Kabul and other terrorist actions, saying they showed how Taliban insurgents continued to undermine national reconciliation efforts, as well as international post-conflict reconstruction efforts. The Russian Federation was particularly concerned about the situation in northern Afghanistan, which had a cross-border impact. Underscoring the importance of a targeted and measured approach to national reconciliation, he expressed hope that the recent splitting of the Taliban and Al-Qaida sanctions regime would give added input to that process. Reiterating the conditions for de-listing, he stressed that a dialogue with Taliban leaders must be carried out under Afghan leadership as any contacts outside that channel would send the wrong signal.
He went on to express concern about ongoing drug trafficking, which was a threat to international peace and stability, as reflected in resolutions 1943 (2010) and 1974 (2011). Neutralizing that threat required joint efforts, as well as the use of all available capacities, he stressed, noting that international forces were not currently paying sufficient attention to the matter. He also emphasized that international forces implementing Council mandates could only be withdrawn by Council decision and had no right to leave Afghanistan without completing their mandated tasks. Finally, he stressed that the reduction of United States forces must not occur without being sufficiently supplemented by increases in Afghan forces.
CAROLINE ZIADE ( Lebanon) said the security situation in Afghanistan remained alarming, with violence against international and Afghan forces, as well as civilians, accelerating. Greater vigilance on the security level was needed during the transition phase to put power back in Afghan hands, she said. She called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and spare the lives of the innocent. Commending efforts to bring about reconciliation, she highlighted the role of the High Peace Council in particular, as well as the Council’s decision to separate the Taliban and Al-Qaida sanctions regimes.
Making headway on human rights was no less important than resolving the security situation, she continued, stressing that women must be protected from all forms of violence and integrated into public life. There was need for further attention to the treatment of detainees, as well as for further support in the area of economic development. She also suggested that neighbouring countries could strengthen their ties to Afghanistan and contribute to its security by monitoring their borders, fighting drug trafficking and combating organized transnational crime.
VINAY KUMAR ( India) said he was concerned that Afghanistan’s security situation appeared to be deteriorating, given the recent attacks on Logar hospital in Kandahar and the Intercontinental Hotel Kabul. It was clear that insurgents were turning their focus to “soft” civilian targets and, as such, the Afghan security forces needed increased support. The transition must be led by the Afghan authorities, and the process must also include human rights and socio-economic elements. The resurgence remained resilient and was a grim reminder that the security situation would remain troublesome unless the international community was able to root out safe havens for disruptive elements outside Afghan territory, he warned.
He went on to say that the Afghan people must be allowed to build a country free from outside interference, and the Government must be allowed effectively to address all challenges to its authority. Welcoming the fact that UNAMA continued to align its activities with priorities outlined by the Afghan Government, he said his country would continue to help Afghanistan in all its efforts to rebuild its infrastructure and public institutions. The Indian Government had announced additional assistance to Afghanistan in the amount of $500 million, he added, emphasizing that stability in Afghanistan could only be achieved with the support of its neighbours. That support could be demonstrated through regional economic activities that exploited Afghanistan’s strategic position as a bridge between many important regional economic Powers, he said.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said recent attacks on civilians and United Nations staff and premises should not shake the international community from its goal of ensuring that Afghanistan’s transition to a peaceful and democratic country was a resounding success. France would continue to work towards that end with the Afghan authorities and partners. At the same time, he said he was aware that the authorities needed more support, especially in addressing corruption, as highlighted by the Kabul Bank incident. The international community must also continue to support the training of Afghan forces. Encouraging reconciliation efforts, he said the Council’s decision to split Al-Qaida from the Taliban in its sanctions regime would encourage all Afghans to choose the path of peace and stability.
Council President PETER WITTIG (Germany), speaking in his national capacity and aligning himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said the recent violence indicated the importance of continued vigilance. Germany and the international community intended to “stay the course”, he said, condemning the attack on the Logar hospital while commending the professional reaction by the Afghan security forces to the heinous attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Acknowledging that the transition would change the nature of international support, he said one determining factor for success would be a solution to the Kabul Bank crisis. Indeed, there was no substitute for credible financial institutions, and the lack of an in-country International Monetary Fund programme must be addressed, he said. He also highlighted the upcoming Bonn Conference, saying it was intended to shift political responsibility and had three main goals: further defining the civilian aspect of the transition process; strongly confirming and defining the nature of long-term international support beyond 2014; and contributing to reconciliation, including through the regional dimension.
TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan), noting that the transition and sustainable security were interlinked with the political process and development, highlighted Japan’s continuing role in strengthening the Afghan security forces by funding police salaries and enhancing the administrative capacity of both the central Government and provincial authorities. Japan had decided to support the Programme for Literacy for Empowering Afghan Police and would start training police forces, alongside Turkey, later this month. He said the serious issue of the Kabul Bank affected not only international donors providing funds, but the framework of international assistance as a whole. Tensions between Parliament and the Special Election Court could also potentially affect stability and reconstruction at a critical time when solidarity must be maintained, he warned. The Government, Parliament and courts must act within their respective competencies to address those issues properly and expeditiously, he stressed. Japan would continue its contributions, including $50 million to the Reintegration Fund, he added.
GILLES RIVARD ( Canada) said stability and peace could not be achieved by military means alone, and there was a need for political reconciliation between the Government and the insurgency. “For lasting reconciliation to be possible, it will be necessary for insurgents to renounce violence, severe ties with Al-Qaida, and recognize the Afghan Constitution,” he said. While now was the time for peace talks, however, some Afghans genuinely feared that the gains made over the past 10 years in terms of democratization, human rights and the delivery of basic services could be lost. As such, the ongoing discussions must remain cognizant of that concern to ensure that peace benefited all Afghan citizens. Regional countries also had a role in Afghanistan’s success or failure, as well as in the overall stability of South and Central Asia, he said, emphasizing that Afghanistan and its neighbours must overcome deep-seated historical distrust and conflicting interests that were often at odds with regional stability and economic logic.
ABDULLA HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) said the ongoing security challenges in Afghanistan were complicated by three decades of war, a lack of capacity on the part of the of national security forces, the presence of foreign forces, and the exploitation of socio-political complexities by criminals and drug traffickers. The violence and instability in Afghanistan was a threat to Pakistan, he said, adding that his Government was extending all possible cooperation to the neighbouring country in the field of security and intelligence. “ Pakistan’s commitment to peace in Afghanistan is unwavering. Indeed, the cause of regional peace will not be served if Afghanistan is to become a theatre of proxy wars, or its land used for extra-territorial subversive activities,” he said. Long-term solutions to such security challenges lay in workable reconciliation and reintegration processes. An Afghanistan at peace with itself could best ensure its own security, he said, adding that Pakistan supported an Afghan-led and inclusive process with a view to bringing opposition groups into the political mainstream.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the European Union delegation, welcomed the impending handover of security responsibilities from ISAF to Afghan forces in seven provinces, emphasizing, however, that the transition process did not signify a withdrawal. It was a gradual shift to a genuine supporting role. Creating conditions for a successful transition throughout the country required further progress towards good governance and development, as well as on the political track. In that context, the stakes for greater governance were high and measures such as improving the transparency of and oversight over public finances and fighting corruption deserved high priority.
Noting that programmes dealing with public administration and subnational governance were among the least successful, he said that was especially unfortunate because they were among the most important. In a post-transition Afghanistan, less development funding would flow directly to local authorities, which would leave provinces and districts starved of aid without a strong, more reliable connection to the centre and to better subnational governance, he warned. For Afghanistan to take full responsibility for its development, that crisis must be resolved, he stressed, adding that the controversy between the executive branch and Parliament must be resolved.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey) condemned the assault on UNAMA, as well as the spate of insurgent attacks against civilians, stressing, however, that they would not deter Afghanistan’s transition to peace and stability. The transition of security responsibilities, as well as the consolidation of the peace process and economic development must proceed in concert, he said, suggesting that if one failed, they would all fail. While noting that military operations had reached unprecedented levels in the past six months, he said military gains were insufficient for peace, emphasizing that all parts of society must be incorporated into a political solution.
He went on to say that civilian capacity-building and economic sustainability would be equally important after the 2014 transition. Moreover, a benign regional order was another indispensable pillar of peace, and Turkey would continue to pursue efforts in support of the regional dimension. He noted, in that regard, that preparations for November’s Istanbul Conference had been launched. A set of commonalties was already emerging, he said, pointing out that the Conference was intended to be a turning point for regional efforts. The Turkish Government would work closely with Afghanistan and the United Nations, as well as regional States, towards that end.
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