UN envoy to tell Security Council: Demilitarize approach in Afghanistan

4 Jan 2010

UN envoy to tell Security Council: Demilitarize approach in Afghanistan

KABUL - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan held its first press conference for the year 2010 in Kabul today. 

At the conference, UNAMA Spokesperson Aleem Siddique announced that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kai Eide will be addressing the United Nations Security Council in New York on Wednesday, where he is expected to tell member states that the international community needs to demilitarize its overall approach in Afghanistan.

"The Special Representative will make clear ... that the extra military resources committed to Afghanistan are much appreciated and required, however they must be accompanied by a coherent political strategy.

For the military efforts to succeed, they must be led by a political strategy to build sustainable civilian institutions and begin a peace process under Afghan leadership and international partnership," said Mr Siddique.

The Security Council is also expected to examine key issues such as UNAMA's mandate, the implications of the budget, as well as how the Mission can better coordinate aid.

Prior to the UN Envoy's address to the Security Council in New York, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to release his latest quarterly report on Afghanistan to the Security Council.

Two major conferences on Afghanistan are slated to take place in the first half of 2010 in January in London and, thereafter, in Kabul.

According to Mr Siddique, the conference in London, which will be co-chaired by the UK Government and the United Nations under Afghan leadership, is expected to be attended by foreign ministers from over 40 countries, including troop contributing countries under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the US-led coalition, neighbouring countries - Iran and Pakistan - the European Union, and other international organizations.

"The Conference is not just about sending more troops or soliciting more donor funds. The conference will secure the political commitments required to ensure we enable the Afghan state to stand up on its own in the coming months," Mr Siddique clarified.

Answering a question on whether the lack of a complete cabinet would impede progress at the London Conference, the Spokesperson said that although it does not help not to have a full cabinet before such a decisive meeting, the UN was encouraged that the key ministers of finance, agriculture and defence and acting or deputy ministers would be present.

Meantime, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced last week that it would conduct the Parliamentary elections in May 2010. Asked whether UNAMA would pay for these elections if the US declines, Mr Siddique said no request for money has been made from the Afghan government so far and that "we will have to judge our level of engagement depending on progress made in reforming these (electoral) institutions ahead of any poll."

One of the key reform indicators that the international community would be looking at is the reform of the Independent Election Commission, which was unable to prevent fraud that occurred during the Presidential and Provincial Council Elections of August 2009.

Mr Siddique emphasized on the importance of cleaner, fairer future elections, adding "we need to see the removal and replacement of those officials who were complicit in the fraud."

By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA