March 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 February 2006
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to review and extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) after it receives the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his March regular report. The report of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has yet to be presented to the Council.

Key Facts
On 15 February, the Council endorsed the Afghanistan Compact. The document, adopted at a donors’ conference in London on 1 February, outlines reconstruction benchmarks in the post-transitional period. International partners-especially the US, the UK, Japan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank-pledged approximately US$10.5 billion over the next five years.

The document further mandates that the UN, together with the Afghan government, will co-chair the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, designed to “ensure the overall strategic coordination of the implementation of the Compact.” The Board’s secretariat will be staffed by the UN. Accordingly, the Secretary-General will recommend a future role for UNAMA to the Council.

UNAMA is currently mandated with:

  • fulfilling the tasks conferred to the UN by the 2001 Bonn Agreement, particularly monitoring and assisting its implementation and assisting the elections;
  • promoting national reconciliation; and
  • managing all UN humanitarian relief, recovery and reconstruction activities in coordination with the Afghan government.

Key Issues
The main issue facing the Council is the renewal of UNAMA with a new mandate that reflects the new tasks under the Afghanistan Compact. The Council has traditionally refrained from deep involvement in the security situation in Afghanistan. However, with the increasing role given to the UN under the Compact and the recent surge in attacks by Al-Qaida and Taliban-associated insurgents, the possibility of the Council paying closer attention to the security situation may become an issue.

Council Dynamics
The main thrust of the Council’s work on Afghanistan has been to focus on the UN’s role in managing reconstruction through UNAMA. There is consensus that the mission should be renewed with a mandate that includes the coordinating role envisaged in the Compact.

Options
In addition to renewing and adjusting UNAMA’s mandate to reflect the Compact’s tasks, other options may be:

  • including additional provisions in the resolution on security aspects; and
  • requesting more detailed and timely reporting on the security situation and the operations of ISAF.

Underlying Problems
The NATO-led ISAF and US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have had some notable successes. OEF was able to quickly sweep out the Taliban and disrupt Al-Qaida networks in 2001, but remnants still linger. Additionally, OEF established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in 2002 to assist reconstruction efforts, provide security and train the army and police. The teams were the main thrust of ISAF’s move from Kabul to the north in October 2003. ISAF and OEF now operate 23 such teams in the Afghan countryside.

ISAF will progressively take over peacekeeping and reconstruction from OEF by expanding southwards, thus paving the way for a drawdown in US forces.

However, the increase in violence from the Taliban and Al-Qaida indicates that the situation in the country is far from secure, particularly along the border with Pakistan. There has been increased use of suicide attacks and explosives, with financing particularly provided by the drug trade. Upsurges of violence associated with the publication of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and between Sunnis and Shias have also further unsettled the security situation.

OEF’s initial goals of eliminating Al-Qaida in Afghanistan have thus far not been completely accomplished, and top Al-Qaida commanders, including Usama bin Laden, remain on the loose. This, along with the readiness of the Afghan National Army, may influence withdrawal timetable for US troops.

Against this backdrop, some ISAF contributors have shown reluctance to engage their national contingents in efforts that go beyond reconstruction as their forces expand into the dangerous south. This led to recent delays in deployment and uncertainty surrounding troop contributions. Other countries, in particular the UK, the Netherlands and Canada, have shown more willingness to send troops to the south. Later this year, the UK is expected to take over ISAF’s command and send an additional 3,300 troops to Afghanistan.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1659 (15 February 2006) endorsed the Afghanistan Compact.

  • S/RES/1623 (13 September 2005) extended ISAF’s mandate until 13 October 2006.

  • S/RES/1617 (29 July 2005) strengthened sanctions against the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

  • S/RES/1589 (24 March 2005) extended UNAMA’s mandate until 24 March 2006.

  • S/RES/1510 (13 October 2003) expanded ISAF’s mandate beyond Kabul.

  • S/RES/1401 (28 March 2002) created UNAMA.

  • S/RES/1390 (28 January 2002) strengthened sanctions against the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

  • S/RES/1386 (20 December 2001) authorised ISAF to provide security in Kabul.

  • S/RES/1373 (28 September 2001) created a comprehensive package of measures to curb terrorism.

  • S/RES/1333 (19 December 2000) strengthened the sanctions against the Taliban and imposed sanctions against Al-Qaida.

  • S/RES/1267 (15 October 1999) imposed sanctions against the Taliban.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2005/525 (12 August 2005) is the latest report.
  • S/2002/278 (18 March 2002) contains recommendations for UNAMA’s structure.
Latest Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2005/56 (23 November 2005) welcomed the parliamentary elections and the conclusion of the Bonn process.

For the historical background please refer to the February 2006 Forecast Report.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNAMA’s Chief of Mission
Tom Koenings (Germany; effective February 2006)
Size and Composition of Mission
Current strength: 199 international civilians, 729 local civilians, 12 military observers, 7 civilian police, 41 UN volunteers.
Duration
28 March 2002 to present
Senior ISAF Civilian Representative in Afghanistan
Hikmet Çetin (Turkey)
ISAF: Size and composition
  • Current strength: 9,200 troops.
  • Contributors of military personnel: 35 NATO and non-NATO countries.
  • Current top contributors: Germany, Italy, Canada, France, the UK, Spain.
ISAF: Duration
20 December 2001 to present
OEF: Size and Composition
  • Current strength: 22,100 troops
  • Contributors of military personnel: twenty countries
  • Top contributor: US (19,000)
OEF: Duration
7 October 2001 to present

Useful Additional Sources

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