UN official calls for transition strategy, not exit strategy

1 Dec 2009

UN official calls for transition strategy, not exit strategy

1 December 2009 - The most senior United Nations official in Afghanistan today called for a “transition strategy” rather than an “exit strategy” in the country.  - UN Radio report

While underlining the need of a long-term international commitment to rebuild the country, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan Kai Eide, said it would be wrong to talk about an exit strategy at the moment.

“I think we should talk about transition strategy, which is something completely different,” said Mr Eide while briefing some members of the international press in the capital, Kabul.

He said the vital part of a “transition strategy” is the “whole institution building programme”.

“It really means pushing more and more responsibilities on to the Afghan authorities, allowing them to take more responsibilities,” said Mr Eide, who is also the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mr Eide said United States President Barack Obama might also be thinking about the same strategy.

The UN official’s comments come just hours before President Obama announces the US strategy for Afghanistan.

Mr Eide also told journalists that the next five to six months “can give us a momentum that has been lost during the election process”.

“It is badly needed,” he said, adding that the international community has to “re-assert” a long-term commitment to Afghanistan that can aid the endeavours towards peace, development and sustainability in the country.

“That long-term commitment depends on a high degree of confidence and trust between the government and the international community,” said Mr Eide.

He said the “lost momentum” can be rebuilt and “then move into a transition strategy” in the next months.

Mr Eide stressed the need to put an emphasis on building Afghan institutions, which can ultimately ensure sustainability.

“If we are to deliver services to the people, it can’t be done by international parallel structures. It has to be done by afghan institutions. That’s going to take time, but the longer we wait the more time it will take,” he added.

Warning of the risk of Afghan institutions and projects collapsing unless they are empowered and made sustainable, the UN diplomat said: “We really need to move into a different kind of mode, different mindset, where all emphasis is put on sustainability of what we are doing.”

He said the “transition strategy” has been discussed with Afghan ministers. “I think we will be able to put in place a plan that can work,” he added.

“There are segments here and there. We need to bring them together. My hope is that, in the international community, we will all get together behind an Afghan programme that is sustainable.”


By Tilak Pokharel, UNAMA