Wednesday, September 3, 2014

United Nations Security Council Debates the Situation in Afghanistan

On 17 March, the United Nations Security Council debated “The Situation in Afghanistan.” The debate comes on the eve of the renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate, which is currently undergoing adjustments to better reflect the situation on the ground, one of transition to full Afghan ownership and leadership by the end of 2014.

The underlying theme from all participating Member States was about how to adjust the UN Mandate to support transition to Afghan leadership and ownership, which President Karzai has announced will commence officially on March 21. In fact, Special Representative of the Secretary General Staffan De Mistura, requested that H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, speak before his briefing as a symbolic act reflecting the changing roles in the country, placing the Afghan Government in the lead with support by the United Nations.

Ambassador Tanin outlined specific requests for the renewed UNAMA mandate, as described in a letter written on behalf of the Afghan Government from Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul to the U.N. Secretary General on March First.  The requests are aimed at reshaping the work of the UN to reflect the transition to Afghan ownership and leadership.  “The realization of our requests,” Ambassador Tanin said, “will not only facilitate a more efficient UN in years to come, but also a government functioning with greater confidence in its ability to become self reliant.”

Ambassador Tanin reiterated the determination of the Afghan Government to “assume responsibility at all levels.” He welcomed the continued support of the UN, underscoring the importance of their “enduring” and “evolving” partnership.

In line with Ambassador Tanin’s remarks, Mr. De Mistura spoke in strong support of a “Kabul based approach” to transition in the country and a shift to a more sovereign Afghanistan.   Furthermore, he stated that “all entities of the UN are at the disposal of the Afghan Government” and assured that “they will not be abandoned once again once transition is over.”

The problem of escalating civilian casualties in Afghanistan was emphasized by Ambassador Tanin as well as the Special Representative, and was mentioned repeatedly by Member States throughout the debate.

Many member states expressed support for the requests put forth in the Afghan Foreign Minister’s letter. Furthermore, member states expressed confidence in the Afghan-led reintegration and reconciliation process.

The extension of UNAMA’s mandate is scheduled for adoption in the Security Council on Tuesday.