July 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 June 2008
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action
In July the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, will brief the Council on the outcome of the international conference in Paris on 12 June on support of Afghanistan. The Council will also discuss the Secretary-General’s recommendations for changes in the operations of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), requested in resolution 1806. Possible recommendations include:

  • increasing the number of provincial offices; and
  • adding a third pillar to UNAMA responsible for international aid coordination and aid effectiveness.

This open meeting will be the first time the new Special Representative for Afghanistan, appointed on 10 March, will formally brief the Council.

The UNAMA mandate expires on 23 March 2009.

Key Recent Developments
An International Conference in Support of Afghanistan was held on 12 June in Paris. Participants took stock of the two-year old Afghanistan Compact. The Afghan government launched its new five-year Afghanistan National Development Strategy. More than 80 countries participated. Twenty billion dollars was pledged, double that raised at the London Conference two years ago, and this has been seen as a sign of strong continuing commitment from the international community.

The Afghanistan development strategy, which is underpinned by the Afghanistan Compact, has three key pillars: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development. Participants stressed the need for both sustained financial and political commitment and better international aid coordination if the Afghan-led national development strategy is to be successfully implemented.

Ahead of the conference in Paris, Eide stressed that it was more than just a pledging conference and called for a “new deal” between Afghanistan and the international community.

A forum for civil society and the private sector was held on 24 May in Paris to provide inputs for the 12 June conference. Among the topics discussed was the need for a review of international aid to Afghanistan and aid coordination.

At the Bucharest summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on 3 April, NATO leaders issued a new strategic vision for Afghanistan. However, some observers have criticized NATO for not matching deeds to words in delivering on commitments such as providing military commanders with the tools needed for success and allowing flexibility of use of forces by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commanders.

In mid-June, shortly after the Paris conference, France announced that it would rejoin NATO’s military command structure, from which it had withdrawn in 1966. Earlier, it said it would send 700 more troops to eastern Afghanistan. Italy says it will allow a broader military role for Italian troops, and the UK committed 230 additional soldiers. Germany agreed to increase the level of troops available for duty in Afghanistan, allowing it to send an additional 1000 troops to northern Afghanistan by the end of 2008.

On 11 June, the Council adopted resolution 1817, introduced by France, restricting the trafficking to Afghanistan of chemical precursors used in narcotics production. The resolution calls on states to improve coordination with bodies like the International Narcotics Control Board and to tighten international and regional controls on the manufacture and trade of chemical precursors, and prevent their diversion to illicit markets. (Please see our 9 June 2008 Update for background details.)

Options
One option is a resolution endorsing the outcome of the Paris Conference on Afghanistan and the Secretary-General’s recommendations. However, some members do not see the need for a resolution.

An alternative option is a presidential statement which would support the recommendations for changes to UNAMA. It is also likely to reiterate elements of the 16 June press statement which welcomed:

  • the reaffirmation of the international community’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan;
  • the Afghan government’s commitment to pursue political and economic reform, and take leadership for its development;
  • the review of the Afghanistan Compact prepared by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board co-chairs; and
  • the support for the central role of the Secretary-General and UNAMA;

A further option is to defer a decision on the recommendations and to request the Secretary-General to include in his next report:

  • an assessment of the challenges anticipated in implementing the recommendations; and
  • a timetable for implementing the proposed changes to UNAMA.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is how far to go at this stage regarding the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report. No change in UNAMA’s mandate is expected at this point. However, Council endorsement of the changes to UNAMA would help in the lead-up to discussion on the UNAMA budget.

Securing acceptance among UN agencies of the idea of a third pillar focusing on international aid coordination is also an issue. UNAMA has two main pillars, one handling political matters and the other development and humanitarian issues. Some argue a third pillar is essential to ensure better aid coordination and aid effectiveness in order to prevent Afghanistan aid fatigue and disillusionment from setting in. Others like the UN Development Programme argue that aid coordination can be brought under the second pillar so there is no need to create a new pillar.

A practical issue is the difficulty faced by UNAMA in recruiting and retaining staff. A special provision similar to that in the Iraq mission might be necessary to attract enough qualified personnel for additional provincial offices and a third pillar.

A continuing issue is combating corruption. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, has reaffirmed his commitment to fighting corruption. Failure could affect aid commitments.

Council Dynamics
Members have differing views about the need for a resolution at this stage. Some members point to the precedent set by adopting a resolution after the London conference in 2006 and argue that the Council should do the same now. Others feel that a resolution was more relevant for the London conference because it created something new—the Afghanistan Compact.

Endorsing the Paris declaration by the Conference co-chairs’ may be problematic as it was not a document agreed by all participants. Russia, for example, is reluctant to endorse a document which refers to the “expanded role of the Secretary-General.” (The Council press statement issued on 16 June used “central role of the special representative and UNAMA” as an alternative.)

Other members argue against a proliferation of resolutions in the Council, and are liable to shy away from another resolution soon after the one on trafficking of chemical precursors and prefer to wait until there is a specific need to adjust the UNAMA mandate.

Council members like the UK and the US, together with the lead country Italy, continue to be key players on this issue. France has signalled Afghanistan as a key priority, and it is showing signs of wanting to play a more active role than it has in the past.

It appears that Eide has strong support from all members. The Council is likely to be in agreement on giving him the leeway to make changes that will allow him to implement his vision of UNAMA’s sharpened mandate. While no objections to the idea of setting up more provincial offices are anticipated, as the Council has endorsed this idea in the past, some members may request more information about the third pillar and its implications.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1817 (11 June 2008) was the resolution restricting the trafficking of chemical precursors into Afghanistan.
  • S/RES/1806 (20 March 2008) extended UNAMA’s mandate until 23 March 2009.
  • S/RES/1776 (19 September 2007) extended ISAF’s mandate until 13 October 2008.
  • S/RES/1659 (15 February 2006) endorsed the Afghanistan Compact and its annexes.
  • S/RES/1401 (28 March 2002) created UNAMA.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2007/27 (17 July 2007) welcomed international initiatives to improve security, stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan and reiterated support for the Afghan government.

Selected Report of the Secretary-General

  • S/2008/159 (6 March 2008) was the latest report.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNAMA’s Chief of Mission

Kai Eide

UNAMA: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Current strength: 225 international civilians, 1,075 local civilians, 16 military observers, three civilian police, 36 UN volunteers
  • Duration: 28 March 2002 to present; mandate expires on 23 March 2009

ISAF Military Commander

General David McKiernan (US)

ISAF: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Current strength: about 43,250 troops
  • Contributors of military personnel: 40 NATO and non-NATO countries
  • Current top contributors: US, UK, Germany, Canada, Italy and the Netherlands.
  • Duration: 20 December 2001 to present; mandate expires on 13 October 2008

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF): Size, Composition and Duration

  • ·Current strength:13,500 (this is an estimate as the troop numbers shift continuously)
  • Top contributor: US
  • Duration: 7 October to present

Useful Additional Sources

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