A better path to peace: dynamic collaboration between Peacekeeping and Peaceduilding
First Session: Review of UN Discussion on Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan
1st December 2010
By H.E. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you, Mr. Tsuruga, for your introduction as well as for chairing this discussion panel. I am certainly honored to be speaking among such distinguished colleagues as Mr. Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Mr. Baso Sangqu, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations.
At the outset, please let me also take the opportunity to convey my sincere gratitude and that of my country to the government of Japan and in particular to the Foreign Ministry. Japan has been an important and gracious international partner of Afghanistan in the past and present, and we are looking forward to continuing our enduring partnership in the future.
Peacekeeping as a Tool to Prevent Relapse
In the aftermath of the Cold War, peacebuilding has become increasingly essential in order to confront the adverse new realities of our times. Such has been the case in post Cold War conflicts in states such as Iraq, the Balkans and my own country, as well as in less widely-known wars in just about every part of the world. The international community has come to the imperative realization that the reconstruction of a post-conflict society is as intrinsically linked to global peace and security as the conventional and broadly established combination of peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. The price for failure is high: some nations emerge glaringly from destructive conflicts only to slide right back into violence. Success obliges unrelenting international support for nationally set priorities.
Initial Peacebuilding Process in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the process of peacebuilding was taken up instantaneously after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 with the United Nations being placed at the very heart of the operation. The task at hand was a complicated one but the overarching goal that would restore decency to the lives of our citizens, was the establishment of enduring peace and stability. There are two key international actors involved in this complex endeavor: the UN and NATO. In itself, this collaboration is quite unique as it is one of only two NATO missions that had been mandated by the UN Security Council. Furthermore, the peacebuilding process in Afghanistan constitutes, to date, one of the largest involvements of the UN as a leading international civilian coordinator as well as NATO’s first stabilization operation outside of Europe in its over 60 years of history.
Particularities in the Afghan Peacebuilding Process
The history of Afghanistan during the past three decades provides the backdrop for the rather unique peacebuilding efforts. Thirty years ago, in December of 1979, Soviet forces entered Afghanistan. Since then, Afghanistan has been a perpetual victim of war, violence and conflict. Constant upheaval has torn the country from a peaceful, progressive path and thrust it into the global spotlight. What was once a stable, modernizing country, a role model for other states in the region, became a disintegrated state, a broken society, a devastated economy and a vast wasteland of shattered lives. A hundred years of social, political and economic progress were destroyed. And even worse, two million people were killed. Ten million more fled for their own safety. The prolonged conflict divided Afghans by ideology, ethnic or political loyalties, and at different times, each group has fought against each other. Today, it is merely impossible to find a place in Afghanistan that did not see bloodshed, scorched earth and where the machinery of war is unfamiliar.
The conflict in Afghanistan was not about one war, a single intervention or a lone protagonist. It brought about three foreign interventions, three main civil wars, the fall of five regimes and an end to the rule of nine heads of state:
- In the 1980s, Afghanistan was plunged into a conflict built around the 1978 Coup and following the Soviet occupation in December 1979. The two rivaling super powers of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, engaged in the last major battle of the Cold War in the midst of the vast Afghan lands, facilitated through the US supported Mujahedeen and the Soviet backed regime in Kabul.
- In the 1990s a new wave of civil war, between Mujahedeen groups and eventually between the Taliban and the Mujahedeen, pushed Afghanistan into one of its bloodiest havocs. Supported by Pakistan and powerful extremist networks in the Arab world, the Taliban emerged triumphantly, pushing Afghanistan into becoming a launch pad for the Al-Qaeda terrorist operations worldwide, threatening regional and international peace and security.
- Eventually, in 2001, the US led intervention brought about the fall of the Taliban and it appeared that the turmoil had met its end. However, the emerging Taliban from the sanctuaries in the region, embarked on a new murderous campaign, which was aimed at disrupting the peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts.
Two Phases of Peacbuilding Process
Since 2001, the peacebuilding process in Afghanistan has undergone two different phases in which visible progress had been attained while many obstacles continued to challenge success: (1) 2001-2006 under the Bonn Agreement, (2) 2006-2010 with the London Compact:
A – The Bonn Agreement
The focus of the international community promptly shifted to Afghanistan after 9/11 terrorist attack of Al-Qaida against the US. While the peacemaking process was initiated in late 2001, herculean efforts were quickly exerted in order to satisfy the strapping need for a complex peacebuilding process. The Bonn agreement represented the only viable path toward establishing a stable Afghanistan as it envisaged a political process, the construction of political institutions, security sector reform, and the establishment of rule of law. Presidential as well as parliamentary elections embodied a big accomplishment stepping stone in granting the Afghan people their well-deserved input in the future of their homeland. A complex reintegration process was required in order to facilitate lasting peace; thus, a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) strategy was undertaken as well as an eventual shift toward Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG). In this regard, our most invested Asian partner, Japan, has put forth remarkable efforts.
The period between 2001 and 2005 represents the first time in three decades during which Afghanistan is generally at peace and moving gradually toward reconstruction.
B – The London Conference
At the end of the five-year implementation period of the Bonn Process there was a need for a renewed commitment between Afghanistan and the international community. The London conference was held in 2006 to further sustain the stabilization process in three main areas of security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development. Once more, the subsequent five years were determined to be the focal point of all efforts. The London conference initiated a new agreement, the London Compact, focusing on security and capacity building. The implementation of the London Compact has been overshadowed by the return of a violent new Taliban campaign since the end of 2005. Increased terrorist activity and expanding insecurity endangered peacebuilding efforts and posed new challenges for maintaining peace and stability in some parts of the country.
Despite the tremendous progress which was made between 2001 and 2006 and between 2006 -2010, as I stated in a number of occasions previously, we allowed three crucial opportunities to slip through our fingers:
First, we missed the chance to wipe out the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. After their initial defeat, we permitted them to rearm and regroup in sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan. As a result, they returned to threaten us in 2006 and the security situation has deteriorated markedly.
Second, we missed the chance to properly resource and reinforce our efforts. The international forces put in place in 2001 to assist Afghanistan consisted of only 4,500 troops with a limited scope of operation. It took years to increase the forces (ISAF) following the gradual deterioration of the security situation. In term of financial assistance, Afghanistan was treated as a cheap project. The $4.5bil commitment made at the Tokyo donor conference in 2002 did not reflect the true needs of Afghanistan. The same pattern was followed in Berlin in 2005, London 2006, and Paris 2008. In Berlin the assessed need was $21bil, the actual pledge was $8.5bil, in London the assessed need was $30bil -including Berlin- the pledge was a total of $10bil ($2bil) and in Paris the assessed need was $30bil, the actual pledge was $20bil. Afghanistan has been starved for resources, starved for attention, and starved for troops. The responses have been reactive, ex-post-facto, and fragmented.
Third, we missed the chance to rapidly empower and enable Afghans to shoulder the responsibility for their own destiny. The government and civil society lacked capacity, experience and resources.
New Focus: The Kabul Process
An emboldened Taliban and Al-Qaeda has increasingly turned into a greater threat for fragile peace and security, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and the region. It became increasingly imperative to stop the momentum of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The alarming situation prompted the needs for a “strategic shaking” and a comprehensive new focus on peacebuilding and stabilizations efforts.
2009 and 2010 turned out to be rather difficult years for Afghanistan. Afghan partners, and above all the US, began refocusing on Afghanistan through employing more military and civilian resources. At the beginning of his new term, President Hamid Karzai introduced a new national agenda aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability and ending the enduring suffering of Afghan people.
In that spirit, both the London conference and the Kabul conference were held respectively in January and July of 2010. The latter crafted the Kabul Process, which serves as a new foundation for change through transition to full responsibility and leadership of the Afghan government. It also developed a new compact between the Afghan government, the Afghan people, and the international community. The Kabul Process also had a major focus on regional relationships, encouraging improved cooperation between all regional parties. Security comprises the core of the transition strategy envisaged by the Kabul Process. We are committed to taking the lead in combat operations in volatile provinces by 2011 and assume full responsibility for security efforts, with the support of the international community, by the end of 2014. It is a gradual and condition-based process, which relies upon the full support of our friends and partners in helping to build the size, strength and operational capability of Afghan security forces.
We hope that at the end of this transition period, the Afghan army and police will be able to take full responsibility within Afghanistan as intended. The number of National Security Forces has significantly increased. With the help of our partners, we now have approximately 130,000 soldiers and 106,000 police. We plan to increase that number to 171,000 soldiers and 134,000 police by October 2011.
The need for a comprehensive approach
Military strategies alone are not sufficient for the success of stabilization efforts. The peace process necessitates national reconciliation, outreach to the people, and sustainable partnerships with the region and international community.
First, Reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants is critical for establishing peace and security in our country. It is a reasonable and a responsible policy to open the door for reconciling those who would like to join the peace process. We are not only committed to such a policy, but have embraced it through our actions. Outreach to the armed opposition has led to their inclusion in peace talks, as an effort for achieving peace and security, while our government and international partners continue to put an end to all armed activities of the enemies of peace and progress.
Secondly, outreach to the Afghan people is more than a communication strategy. Afghans from all segments of society should be more actively involved in the political arena, and play a role in promoting security, defense and development. We must ensure an environment in which all Afghan people feel that they are the masters of their own destinies. This will enable them to participate in the improvement of Afghan society.
Thirdly, regional cooperation is vital for peace and security in the country. In order to address terrorism, extremism, and narcotic drug production and trafficking, we must have meaningful cooperation and conduct sincere and effective dialogue with our neighbors. Eliminating sanctuaries, where terrorists continue to receive training, financial, and logistical support in the region, is a necessary element for eliminating terrorism. Additionally, Afghanistan is firmly committed to enhancing economic cooperation in the region. Afghanistan is a connecting bridge between Central and South Asia and all could benefit from economic cooperation, trade, and investment. This role can be enhanced within the new frameworks of regional cooperation based on mutual commitments made in various forms.
Fourthly, essential to our efforts is the continued support of our friends and allies. We aim to work actively together to move beyond today’s military activities and gear our joined energy toward establishing stability and long-term cooperation. The strength of our partnership with the international community is crucial for the stability of our people and people around the globe.
From Kabul to Lisbon
The recently held NATO summit in Lisbon and its outcomes, concerning Afghanistan, built heavily on the commitment of the government of Afghanistan for taking over full responsibility of national security by 2014. We believe that the Afghan security forces, with continuing help of our partners, will increasingly be able to take the lead for security operations across the country, thus, a gradual transition to Afghan leadership will be realized sooner than later. In the course of the NATO summit in Lisbon, a new Strategic Concept was adopted which will serve as the Alliance’s roadmap for the coming ten years, reiterating the commitment to Afghanistan as well as collective security. I do not intend to beat around the bush; the challenges of peacebuilding in Afghanistan are numerous and multifaceted. Peace can only endure if it has a solid foundation to grasp on to and peacebuilding enables just that. Peacebuilding, in combination with peacekeeping, involves the citizens and allows for sustainable peace by fostering reconciliation, building up strong and accountable institutions and promoting security sector reform. Thus, only a comprehensive state-building approach, that entails long-term commitments by international partners, can even begin to attend to the needs of post-conflict societies, such as my own.