The situation in Afghanistan
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Zhang Yishan
|Mr. Boubacar Diallo
|Mr. Aguilar Zinser
|Sir Jeremy Greenstock
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Afghanistan
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Afghanistan in which he requests to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
It is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on the agenda. The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
At this meeting, the Security Council will hear a briefing by Mr. Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to whom I give the floor.
When I briefed members of the Council in informal consultations two weeks ago, I concluded with the hope that today I would be able to bring the Council welcome news about the results of the emergency loya jirga. This morning I am pleased to be able to say that that hope was well founded. In view of the importance of the loya jirga for the political future of Afghanistan and the intense global interest in its outcome, my briefing today will pay primary attention to that event.
The emergency loya jirga can be counted as a success for a number of reasons. The fact that it was held is the first success. I have already detailed to the Council the immense challenges faced in conducting the election and selection of delegates, in organizing and securing the site, and in transporting delegates to Kabul on time and in secure conditions. The generosity of the international community was a major factor in this achievement, and on behalf of the Secretary-General I thank all those States that contributed. I fear, however, that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) will have to go back to donors and ask for their understanding, since not all the sums that were pledged to the budget of the Special Independent Commission have actually been paid into the loya jirga trust fund.
The fact that the loya jirga accomplished what it was mandated to accomplish under the Bonn Agreement is its second success. The Bonn Agreement called on the loya jirga to elect a head of State for the Transitional Administration and to approve proposals for the structure and key personnel of the Transitional Administration. As the Council knows, Mr. Karzai was elected as the head of State, and his cabinet was approved by the assembly.
Finally, the fact that Afghans from every region, ethnicity, educational level and occupation were able to gather together peacefully, to debate heatedly, yet ultimately to agree on fundamental questions regarding their common political future is the third — and surely the most important — success of the emergency loya jirga. The gathering offered a truly representative sample of Afghan society in 2002, even if quite a few people might have had some doubts about the legitimacy of the presence of certain delegates.
I would not want this generally positive assessment to give comfort to those who employed tactics of intimidation and fear during the loya jirga process. The Bureau of the loya jirga and UNAMA have documented various cases of intimidation, which have been brought to the attention of the Afghan Government. I am aware that other organizations present in Afghanistan are compiling their own reports on intimidation. For the sake of the next loya jirga and to secure the foundations of democracy in Afghanistan, it is vital that the Afghan authorities highlight and address, as much as possible, the instances where democratic rights have been abused by those who still equate power with force and violence.
Having said that, I must add that intimidation was actually confirmed in only a small number of cases. In fact — and this is important to underline — the reports of intimidation reflected the feeling of fear and insecurity that remains predominant in many parts of the country because the rule of law is not yet firmly established and because far too often force is the only source of authority.
Moving from the general to the specific, the emergency loya jirga was convened in Kabul on 11 June with the participation of 1,656 voting delegates from all over the country and abroad. As per the Bonn Agreement, the assembly was opened by former King Zahir Shah, who stressed that he had returned to Afghanistan to be a servant of his people and not to restore the monarchy. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Lakdhar Brahimi, also made a statement, in which he congratulated Afghans and the Interim Administration on successfully opening the loya jirga. Mr. Brahimi took note of the intimidation that had occurred during the process but — properly, I believe — insisted that more remarkable were the cases of resistance to intimidation and the clearly manifested popular support for the process.
The substantive results of the emergency loya jirga are as follows. On 13 June, Mr. Hamid Karzai was overwhelmingly elected — by 1,295 out of the 1,575 delegates who cast their votes — to be the head of State of the Transitional Administration. One of Mr. Karzai’s two opponents, Massouda Jalal, was a woman. This was the first time in Afghan history that a woman had ever run for such a high position, and her second-place finish is a credit to her and to the assembly. I would like to note here that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and UNAMA conducted an induction course for the 150 female delegates. A core group has been created from among those delegates to continue to promote common issues affecting Afghan women. And while it would have been gratifying to be able to announce the election of a female head of State in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai’s victory has been widely acknowledged to be well deserved. It reflects the leadership he has exercised, both nationally and internationally, as Chairman of the Interim Administration during the past six months.
As the new head of State, Mr. Karzai was required by the rules of the loya jirga to submit for endorsement by the assembly proposals on the structure of the Transitional Authority and its key personalities. Because of flaws in the management of the loya jirga proceedings, there was some confusion among delegates about how their approval for proposals would be secured. For example, many delegates thought that they could become members of the Cabinet if they collected enough signatures from delegates in support of their bid. But the truly contentious issue was the question of how a legislature should be formed, and that issue was left unresolved.
Overlooked in the highly publicized disputes and bitterness on this issue, however, was an encouraging reformist vision of government presented by Mr. Karzai in his acceptance speech on 13 June. Mr. Karzai proposed the creation of a number of national commissions to implement his reforms. These include commissions on national defence, national security, foreign investment, return of property and so forth. The salient aspects of Mr. Karzai’s vision include a lean government structure that focuses resources on the people and not on maintaining a heavy bureaucracy. Mr. Karzai emphasized the importance of generating enough income for the Government to be self-sufficient. Customs duties would be used as the prime source of income to fund the civil service and the Government. On economic questions, he stressed the importance of private enterprise, of encouraging investment from foreigners and from the Afghan diaspora, and of cracking down on corruption and bribery. Mr. Karzai also noted the need to ensure that donor aid is disbursed effectively.
Another key aspect of Mr. Karzai’s vision of government concerns national defence and national security. He noted the need for an ethnically representative national army that is accountable to the Afghan State, for an intelligence service that operates within the boundaries of the law and is respectful of the individual rights of Afghans, and for an independent judicial system that is free from corruption. Most important, in his final speech to the loya jirga Mr. Karzai insisted that all commanders and warlords must come under the authority of the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Karzai explained, however, that forming a lean Cabinet was not easy at this stage in the history of Afghanistan. By the time he appeared before the loya jirga at its final session, he had filled only some of the Cabinet positions. He is finalizing his Cabinet even as the Council meets, and has said that he hopes to announce the final composition of the Cabinet within the next two or three days. Mr. Karzai’s submission to the loya jirga was accepted with a show of hands.
Mr. Karzai’s Cabinet selection could not entirely avoid the political realities of Afghanistan. This imperative seems to have been recognized by the members of the loya jirga. There is, nonetheless, likely to be some discontent. A vast amount of work lies ahead for each ministry, however, and we hope that the Cabinet will focus on its administrative and governance functions.
At the same time, we urge other Afghan leaders to support them. One of the essential features of democracy, which is built into the Bonn Agreement, is that there should always be another future occasion to compete for power. Between such periodic occasions, however, is the time for governance.
These generally positive developments in Kabul are overshadowed by a deterioration of the security situation in some parts of Afghanistan. On the eve of the final day of the loya jirga, several rockets were launched into the centre of Kabul. Luckily, there were no casualties and not much material damage. But this very serious incident is a reminder that security is not guaranteed and that it will not be guaranteed by luck alone.
In the north of Afghanistan, a number of armed attacks and robberies have been carried out against international aid organizations in the last several weeks. Most serious and most contemptible was the gang rape of a female international aid worker. We have also been discouraged by recent incidents in which a clinic run by an international aid organization was fired on during factional fighting in Sholgara, and the vehicle of an international aid non-governmental organization (NGO) was fired upon while travelling to oversee bread distribution at a camp for internally displaced persons near Mazar. These attacks mark a worrying departure from what has been, over the past decade, a generally hospitable attitude by Afghans towards aid workers, as well as from the respect for international norms that is necessary to guarantee a humanitarian space in zones of war.
Aid agencies have appealed to the Special Representative to intervene with national and local authorities to redress this alarming situation. Mr. Brahimi has responded by writing to Chairman Karzai to request strong and urgent intervention with local parties to secure conditions for humanitarian work and to ask him to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law. Mr. Brahimi also met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, General Atta Mohammed, and Mr. Haji Mohammed Muhaqiq, the leaders of the three main northern factions, to make the same demand for intervention. He emphasized that previous United Nations interventions with local authorities had regrettably not resulted in any serious measures being taken to apprehend criminals — many of whom, I regret to say, are in uniform — or to prevent future abuses. He noted that if the security situation continues to deteriorate, aid organizations might be forced to cut their operations in the north. This would make it much more difficult to persuade donors to invest in recovery and reconstruction projects in the region, particularly in the light of paragraph 4 of Security Council resolution 1401 (2002).
It is clearly vital that, in the weeks and months following the loya jirga, the international community should assist the Afghan Government to bring its authority to bear on insecure areas of the country. Much of this can be done through the continued training of a new Afghan army, which continues to progress. But, inevitably, that army will not be able to provide adequate security for many months to come. Given the importance of peace and security in the transitional period, the contributing nations to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Council may wish again to consider the possibility of a limited expansion of ISAF to areas outside Kabul, particularly those where there is a clear pattern of emerging insecurity that, if left to evolve without countervailing pressure, could seriously threaten the further implementation of the Bonn process.
As the United Kingdom yesterday completed the hand-over of the ISAF leadership to Turkey, I would like to signal our immense gratitude for the professionalism and dedication of the former, as well as our anticipation of equally effective leadership and cooperation from the latter. ISAF, in exemplary cooperation with Afghan forces, did a superb job of providing security for the loya jirga. From the diligence and promptness of the members of this Council in authorizing and extending ISAF to the excellent field-level performance of ISAF’s troops, the force has been a model of international cooperation, as well as tangible proof of the international commitment to promoting peace and political order in Afghanistan. I can think of no higher tribute to pay than to emphasize, once again, our confidence that ISAF would have an equally positive impact if deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan.
A major task of the Transitional Authority, in addition to extending its writ beyond Kabul, will be to address the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The United Nations has pledged to be an effective partner in this process. In this regard, I am pleased to report that progress continues to be made by UNAMA and the United Nations agencies in Afghanistan in developing a coherent assistance strategy as well as a productive and cooperative relationship with the Afghan Government.
In the near future, I would hope to provide a comprehensive briefing on assistance activities and on progress made by the United Nations in implementing relief and recovery programmes in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, I am compelled to highlight once again the worrying decline in donor funding for Afghanistan. Already, many organizations, most notably the World Food Programme, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Organization for Migration have been forced to scale back, or even halt operations. This funding shortfall, moreover, makes it extremely difficult for those agencies, and consequently for the United Nations system as a whole, to prepare the necessary transition towards increased recovery programming later in the year.
Allow me to say in conclusion that the plans and hopes mapped out six months ago at Bonn have become the realities of today. Perhaps few people believed then that the Interim Administration would be as effective as it has proven to be, and that the peace process would be as robust as it has been.
Now, new challenges face us and new tasks lie ahead in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I would like to urge the international community to continue to assist the Afghans and to support the United Nations, as it has generously done thus far. I ask the international community please to help ensure that we meet these new targets as we have the ones that now lie behind us. For the moment, I am sure the Council may agree, each success of the Bonn process actually adds to our responsibilities rather than subtracts from them.
I thank Mr. Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, for his comprehensive briefing on Afghanistan. I believe that Council members will agree with me that the Afghan people have long suffered as victims of war’s destruction and that they deserve the international community’s utmost assistance in their quest for stability and peace.
We also express the hope that the convening and outcome of the loya jirga will open a new page in the life of the Afghan people, a page of the reconstruction and development of their country.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I should now like to invite Council members to informal consultations to continue our discussion of this subject.