Sunday, December 21, 2014

The International Afghanistan Conference Bonn 2011

Together with Afghanistan, the goal is to give concrete shape to the long-term engagement of the international community and to advance the broader political process in the country.

Background

The International Afghanistan Conference to set the course for Afghanistan’s future

In the run-up to the Afghanistan Conference in Bonn, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai arrived in Bonn on 2 December. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed him at the airport: he said that Germany was delighted to be hosting the Conference and thus making a contribution towards stability in Afghanistan and towards a bright future for that country.

“We are looking forward to this major Conference”, said Westerwelle. He went on to say that the key message it would send was that the international community intended to continue supporting Afghanistan on a long-term basis. Karzai emphasized that his return to Bonn ten years after the first Afghanistan Conference in that city was a very special occasion for him. Germany was an old friend of Afghanistan and, especially during the last ten years, had played a prominent role in the efforts to help his country and “had made sacrifices for its stabilization”.

Ten years after the Bonn Conference of 2001, the international community is meeting in Bonn again on 5 December 2011. Together with Afghanistan, the goal is to give concrete shape to the long-term joint engagement and to advance the further political process in the country.

Following the handover of responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan Government and the completion of the withdrawal of all international combat troops in 2014, the aim is to ensure that Afghanistan remains stable and develops economically.

“Afghanistan must become a stable community that is no longer a threat to peace”, wrote Westerwelle in a joint newspaper article with his Afghan colleague Zalmai Rassoul on 2 December.

The Bonn Conference will focus on three issues:

  • the civil aspects of the process of transferring responsibility to the Government of Afghanistan by 2014,
  • the long-term engagement of the international community in Afghanistan after 2014 and
  • the political process that is intended to lead to the long-term stabilization of the country.

An intra-Afghan process with regional support

This political process must progress on two levels: the reconciliation of the country’s various population groups must remain a process that takes place inside Afghanistan. Renunciation of violence, cutting of ties to international terrorism,
and respect for the Afghan Constitution including its human rights provisions are essential guidelines.At the same time this process must be secured by Afghanistan’s neighbours and the regional powers. The stabilization of Afghanistan is set in the context of the political stability of the entire region, to which all countries in the region contribute.

The conference also highlights the shift of emphasis in the international community’s Afghanistan policy from the military to the political aspect.

Conference Outcome and Documents

Conference Conclusions

Participants

Statements

Further Documents

UNESCO votes to admit Palestine as full member

31 October 2011 –The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today voted to admit Palestine as a full member of the Paris-based agency.

News Release

UNESCO’s General Conference, the agency’s highest ruling body, took the decision by a vote of 107 in favour to 14 against, with 52 abstentions, according to a news release.

The move brings the total number of UNESCO member States to 195.

“The admission of a new member State is a mark of respect and confidence,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said following the vote. “This must be an opportunity to strengthen the Organization and not weaken it, a chance for all to commit once again to the values we share and not to be divided.”

Ms. Bokova voiced concern by the “potential challenges” that may arise to the universality and financial stability of UNESCO. “I am worried we may confront a situation that could erode UNESCO as a universal platform for dialogue. I am worried for the stability of its budget.

“It is well-known that funding from our largest contributor, the United States, may be jeopardized,” she noted. “I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not suffer unduly as a result…

“UNESCO’s work is too important to be jeopardized,” she stressed.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asked about the UNESCO decision during a press conference in New York, said that it is up to Member States to ensure that the UN system as a whole has consistent political and financial support.

“As such, we will need to work on practical solutions to preserve UNESCO’s financial resources,” he stated.

He also emphasized once again the urgency of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing that the two-state solution is “long overdue.”

For its membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify UNESCO’s constitution, which is open for signature in the archives of the Government of the United Kingdom in London.

Admission to UNESCO for States that are not members of the UN requires a recommendation by the agency’s Executive Board and a two-thirds majority vote in favour by the General Conference.

The General Conference, which consists of the representatives of the States that are members of the agency, meets every two years, and is attended by member States and associate members, together with observers for non-member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

It is tasked with setting the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General.

The current 36th session of the General Conference began on 25 October and will run through 10 November.

UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

Vote

The breakdown of the vote to admit Palestine as a full member state in UNESCO, was: “yes” (107), “no” (14), “abstention” (52) and “absent” (21).

No: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.

Abstentions: Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.

Yes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sant Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Confederated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Niue, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan.

Video

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Libyans must come together and reconcile after Qadhafi’s reported death – Ban

20 October 2011 –Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all sides in Libya to lay down their arms and work together peacefully to rebuild the North African nation amid reports that Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi has been killed.

“Clearly, this day marks an historic transition for Libya,” Mr. Ban said at UN Headquarters in New York, reacting to the reports of the death of the Libyan leader and the end of fighting in Sirte and other cities.

“In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebration, as well as grief for those who lost so much,” he stated. “Yet let us recognize, immediately, that this is only the end of the beginning. The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full of challenges.”

Pro-Qadhafi forces and rebels have been engaged in fighting for months after a pro-democracy movement emerged at the start of the year, similar to the popular uprisings witnessed in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Mr. Ban stressed that now is the time for all Libyans to come together, and that they can only realize the promise of the future through national unity and reconciliation.

“Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace,” he said. “This is the time for healing and rebuilding, for generosity of spirit – not for revenge.”

As Libya’s transitional authorities prepare the way for elections and take the many other steps toward building their new nation, “inclusion and pluralism must be the watchwords,” he added.

“The high hopes sustained through the long days of revolution and conflict must translate into opportunities and justice for all,” said the Secretary-General.

The UN began deploying staff last month to its newly established UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ian Martin. The mission, based in the capital, Tripoli, will assist the authorities in restoring public security, plan for elections and ensure transitional justice.

Mr. Martin, speaking to reporters in New York via video-link from Tripoli, said that today is indeed an historic day and a “key moment” in the transition. As soon as the National Transitional Council (NTC) formally declares liberation, the path will begin towards the main tasks of the transition process.

“It’s the people of Libya who have made their liberation… and they will lead on the way ahead,” Mr. Martin noted, while adding that they have asked the UN for assistance. No one should underestimate the “great challenges” that lay ahead for the country, he added.