Friday, October 31, 2014

Briefing on Afghanistan to the Security Council by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous,

Monsieur le Président,

 

Depuis le dernier briefing du Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général, M. Ján Kubiš, au mois de mars, la situation en Afghanistan a été marquée par d’importants développements internes et externes.

 

Des progrès importants ont été réalisés à l’occasion des deux conférences internationales de Kaboul et de Chicago – avec une troisième qui doit se tenir le mois prochain à Tokyo.  Ces progrès ont contribué à façonner et définir plus précisément les contours du futur de l’Afghanistan.

 

La Conférence ministérielle de Kaboul qui s’est tenue le 14 Juin fut l’occasion pour l’Afghanistan de démontrer son efficacité dans la conduite d’un processus essentiel pour sa stabilité à venir : celui qui consiste en développer la confiance et la coopération régionale.  Le processus d’Istanbul, dirigé par les Afghans, en partenariat avec les acteurs régionaux, et avec l’appui de la communauté internationale, a permis d’importantes avancées depuis son lancement en novembre de l’année dernière, il y a un peu plus de sept mois.

 

À Kaboul, les nations « Heart of Asia » ont adopté sept mesures de confiance, élaborées dans le cadre d’un processus consultatif régional, portant sur les menaces communes et les obstacles à la stabilité régionale, le développement économique, et les questions humanitaires.  D’autres mesures de ce type sont attendues à l’issue de ce processus. Je me félicite que ces nations aient fait appel aux organismes compétents des Nations Unies qui fourniront un appui technique à chacune de ces initiatives.

 

Ce processus représente une avancée stratégique qui est particulièrement important notamment parce que sous conduite afghane.  Il s’ajoute aux instances bi-latérales, tri-latérales et multi-latérales déjà en place, avec notamment l’Organisation de coopération de Shanghai, la Conférence afghane de coopération économique régionale, l’Association sud-asiatique pour la coopération régionale. Il doit contribuer à notre objectif commun, qui est celui de construire une région empreinte de stabilité, prospérité et coopération.

 

En ce qui concerne les initiatives régionales onusiennes, j’apprécie le rôle joué par des agences de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour relever les défis persistant qui dépassent la capacité d’un seul pays de la région.

 

Tout d’abord, je note le travail de l’Office du Haut Commissariat aux Réfugiés. Plus de trois millions de réfugiés afghans ont été enregistrés au Pakistan et en Iran, avec un impact énorme pas seulment pour l’Afghanistan, mais aussi pour ces deux pays.  Ainsi, je me réjouis et je vous appelle à apporter votre soutien à la stratégie de solutions pour les réfugiés afghans, lancée à Genève en mai dernier par l’Afghanistan, le Pakistan et l’Iran, avec le soutien du HCR et d’autres membres de la famille des Nations Unies, pour permettre le  retour et la réintégration des réfugiés afghans d’une façon globale et durable.

 

[SI UNODC S’ADDRESSE AU CS: La production et le trafic de stupéfiants en provenance d'Afghanistan menace la stabilité de la région et touche le monde entier.  Je suis heureux que le Secrétaire général adjoint Yuri Fedotov de l'Office des Nations unies contre la drogue et le crime soit ici aujourd’hui pour nous informer des derniers développements liés à la lutte contre les stupéfiants et la criminalité transfrontalière.]

 

Monsieur le Président,

 

The Meeting on Afghanistan on May 21, which took place as part of the NATO Summit in Chicago, went a long way towards defining the shape of, and the long-term support to, Afghan National Security Forces. We saw important guarantees – both financial and technical – as well as a reconfirmation of NATO commitments to previously agreed timelines for transition.

 

Providing this level of clarity and commitment on continued support to the security sector helps to dampen growing anxiety both within Afghanistan as well as among its international partners as to the post-2014 situation. It also reinforces the message from the international community that Transition will not translate into an abandonment of Afghanistan.

 

As Afghan National Security Forces gradually assume responsibility for security of the country, we will continue to advocate for the strengthening of their oversight and accountability mechanisms – particularly within police and local police structures. Again, I emphasize that all parties, and given their increased responsibilities Afghan security forces in particular, must continue to prioritize the protection of civilians.

 

As the Secretary-General’s report on Afghanistan notes, the past three months saw a dramatic decline in the number of security incidents over 2011, but it was also marked by large-scale incidents and an increase in the use of tactics which target civilians, particularly the indiscriminate use of Improvised Explosive Devices and targeted killing of civilians by anti-Government elements. And let us not forget, it is these forces that are responsible for up to 80 per cent of civilian causalities.

 

As Special Representative Kubiš highlighted in May, UNAMA has documented that 2011 marked the fifth consecutive year of increasing civilian casualties. This is simply not acceptable. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to increase their efforts to protect civilians and call for individuals responsible to be held accountable.

 

On that note, I wish to make special mention of the 12 June ISAF decision, following the tragic civilian deaths from an air strike in Logar Province six days earlier, to increase restrictions on the use of aerial munitions against civilian dwellings. Although the number of incidents attributed to pro-Government forces continues to decline and is a small portion of the total – and these forces, notably ISAF, continue to vigorously adopt measures to reduce civilian casualties – UNAMA has repeatedly expressed concern that aerial operations have resulted in more civilian deaths and injuries than any other tactic used by pro-Government forces.  This ISAF decision is a welcome development.

 

Mr. President,

 

Security alone will not bring lasting stability and peace to Afghanistan. Just as we have seen progress in defining long-term support to the security side, it is equally important to see the same level of commitment to the social-economic development sector. Therefore, we very much look forward to the upcoming Tokyo Conference as an important step in that direction. The Secretary-General will head the United Nations delegation, which will include the UNAMA Special Representative and myself.

We have noted concerns from all sides that the fine words and commitments expressed during the many conferences on Afghanistan over the past decade be lived up to. To that end, I welcome the ongoing development of a framework and a mechanism which will track progress on such commitments and hold both the Afghan Government and donors accountable for their implementation. This ‘Mutual Accountability Mechanism’, which should report through the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, is expected to be agreed upon in Tokyo and will provide a solid foundation upon which to build long-term development support.

 

However, we must ensure that expectations surrounding what Afghanistan can do over a short timeframe – given capacity and resource limitations and given the fragility of its nascent institutions – are realistic and do not prove self-defeating.

 

We must keep in mind our overall objective: to see a stable, self-reliant Afghanistan with effective institutions delivering essential services, justice and opportunities to its people. We will only reach this goal if we continue to invest in Afghanistan’s maturing institutions and in the priorities Afghans themselves set.

 

I welcome Afghan leadership on the processes that most affect the country and its people, starting with the prioritization of development objectives and the Heart of Asia process I noted earlier, but also including reconciliation initiatives and the preparation of upcoming elections.

 

The appointment of Salahuddin Rabbani to lead the High Peace Council signals continued engagement, commitment and continuity from the Afghan Government. The United Nations continues to stand ready to support the Council’s efforts and looks forward to seeing an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process gain momentum.

 

The upcoming 2014 elections will be a watershed moment, with significant impact on the consolidation of the progress made to date and on long-term stability. They should be held in full accord with the Constitution to ensure a smooth political transition and to demonstrate Afghanistan’s growing self-reliance and sovereignty. We welcome President Karzai’s statement in Chicago in May that elections must be marked by integrity and must be free from internal or external interventions. Already we are seeing a rise in political activity and debate ahead of the 2014 polls.

 

We also welcome the constructive consultation process on the electoral law, which the Independent Elections Commission recently completed as well as the decision to begin work on the voter registry – both encouraging signs of an essential ingredient for a sound process, inclusiveness.

 

In addition to the ongoing United Nations Development Programme’s Elect II project, providing electoral technical support, Special Representative Kubiš has been consulting with the Government and relevant institutions to determine how best the United Nations can assist the electoral process. With some two years to go before elections, it is critical that such Government decisions proceed apace.

 

Mr. President,

 

As our report clearly shows, humanitarian issues continue to be a cause for concern. This year’s spring floods have been particularly severe following the harsh 2011-12 winter, and continuing conflict exacerbates already serious displacement issues. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, on her recent visit, highlighted the extensive humanitarian needs, an uncertain future and the lagging support for this year’s Consolidated Appeal. While we must aim over the longer-term to link humanitarian assistance with development initiatives, we cannot neglect the urgent, immediate needs on the ground.

 

Mr. President,

 

Allow me to turn to developments which affect more directly the future of the UNAMA mission itself.

 

Circumstances around the world – including financial crises in major economies and competing demands for international attention – have combined to impact United Nations peace operations and have led to shrinking budgets. This will likely also affect UNAMA. Expectations that the Mission will be able to do more, as transition proceeds, are unrealistic in the face of this greater fiscal austerity.

 

UNAMA and other special political missions must meet targets set by the General Assembly over two–year cycles. While it is ultimately for UN budgetary bodies to determine budgets and resource requirements, the budget we will put forward for UNAMA for 2013 will reflect the overall need for cuts requested by Member States.

 

As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, a strategic decision has been made to reshape our provincial footprint in line with recommendations from the Comprehensive Review undertaken last year at the Security Council’s request, with changes related to Transition and with the latest Security Council mandate. This decision will certainly reduce costs.

 

For the Mission to address a significant reduction to its budget, UNAMA will also need to review all aspects of its substantive and support structures and prioritize its programming activities. Such an exercise would necessarily have an impact on mandate delivery, the extent of which is yet to be determined and will soon be reported to the United Nations budgetary bodies and this Council.

 

Monsieur le Président,

Les discussions informelles sur le rôle de la communauté internationale après 2014, y compris celui des Nations Unies, en Afghanistan, doivent prendre en considération les contraintes budgétaires et programmatiques que je viens d’énoncer, ainsi que les impératifs de la transition et la situation sur le terrain.  Ces discussions doivent également faire l’objet d’un processus de consultation adéquat, d’abord et avant tout avec le gouvernement afghan, afin de permettre au Conseil de sécurité de prendre une décision éclairée.

 

Thank you, Mr. President