This Wednesday morning, 27 June 2012, the United Nations Security Council held its quarterly debate on the Situation in Afghanistan under the presidency of China. The Security Council (SC) first heard a briefing from Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, followed another briefing from Under-Secretary General of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yuri Fedotov. The debate was opened with a statement from the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin. Also speaking at the debate was Assistant Secretary-General for Operations of NATO, Mr. Stephen Evans.
This quarter’s SC debate took place against the backdrop of the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and recent reaffirmations of international commitments to that process. A number of important events were highlighted in the debate in this regard, including the NATO Summit in Chicago in May, the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Kabul in June, and a number of strategic partnership agreements signed in recent months, including one inked with the US in May. Many speakers were looking forward to the upcoming Tokyo conference in July.
Drawing upon the words of the Secretary-General’s report, many speakers exhibited a tone of “cautious optimism” towards the situation in Afghanistan. Based on the recent conferences, USG Ladsous said that their success “reinforces the message from the international community that transition will not mean abandonment”.
“Transition to Afghan ownership and leadership is our number one strategic priority,” said Ambassador Tanin in his address to the Security Council. He highlighted the progress made thus far on the path to peace and stability in Afghanistan through an increased level of international and regional cooperation, he said that Afghanistan “is on track to complete the third phase [of the security transition] before the end of the year, by which 75 per cent of the population throughout the country will come under Afghan security force responsibility.” In his speech Ambassador Tanin also noted the challenging task of implementing the socio-economic aspects of the transition in order to secure long term development.
In addition to hearing from USG Ladsous, USG Fedotov and Ambassador Tanin, the SC heard statements from all fifteen members as well as Australia, Japan, the EU, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, Latvia and Iran.