September 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 August 2010
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action
At the end of September, the Council is expected to have a debate on Afghanistan where a briefing by the head of UNAMA, Staffan de Mistura, is expected. The Secretary-General’s report is likely to be circulated in the latter half of September. With legislative elections taking place in Afghanistan on 18 September, Council members will be interested in de Mistura’s analysis of the conduct and outcome of the elections. Other areas of interest will be follow-up to the July Kabul Conference, progress in implementation of UNAMA’s mandate, developments regarding Taliban reintegration and reconciliation, regional cooperation and international aid coherence.

The issue of civilian deaths and the overall human rights situation may also be on some Council members’ minds, especially following the publication in August of UNAMA Human Rights Unit’s midyear report on impact of the conflict on civilians.

UNAMA’s current mandate continues until 23 March 2011.

Key Recent Developments
The security situation has continued to deteriorate in Afghanistan. Incidences in August include the death of eight foreign and two Afghan health aid workers in the northeast of Afghanistan, a fatal attack by two suicide bombers on a guesthouse in central Kabul and a suicide bomber attack on a NATO base in southeastern Afghanistan. Ethnic tensions in Kabul also led to violent clashes in the Afghan capital on 14 August which prompted a statement from UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) calling for restraint.

The Human Rights Unit in UNAMA released its midyear report on civilian casualties on 10 August. In the first six months of 2010, civilian casualties (the term covers deaths and injuries) increased by 31 percent over the same period in 2009. Three-quarters of all civilian casualties were linked to anti-government elements which marks a 53 percent increase from 2009. By contrast, civilian casualties attributed to pro-government forces decreased by 30 percent compared to the first half of 2009. Among the recommendations in the report is the need for a public body to lead the Afghan government’s response to major civilian incidents. Following the release of this report Amnesty International suggested that the Taliban and other insurgent groups should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes.

On 15 August the Taliban stoned to death a couple for adultery. President Hamid Karzai condemned the act and said that execution without trial was a crime, an act of inhumanity and counter to Islam.

The Kabul Conference held on 20 July was attended by senior officials from over seventy countries and was co-chaired by the UN and the Afghan government. The Kabul Conference communiqué recognised the conference as an important milestone in the Kabul Process. (The Kabul Process, a term coined at the Kabul Conference, refers to the events charting the path towards Afghan leadership and ownership.) Among the conference outcomes were the Afghan government’s commitments to:

  • a phased approach to security-led transition of Afghan provinces from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) control to Afghan National Security Forces by 2014;
  • good governance, a fair judicial system and human rights in government;
  • the centrality of women’s rights;
  • address the problem of narcotics; and
  • finalise by October 2010 the Framework of the Afghan government’s National Priority Programmes.

The international participants expressed readiness to align their development assistance behind the National Priority Programmes and endorsed in principle the Afghan government’s Peace and Reintegration Programme.

On 23 July the Secretary-General briefed the Council on the Kabul Conference. The Council issued a press statement welcoming the Kabul Conference communiqué, supporting the Kabul Process and looking forward to the timely implementation of the Afghan government’s commitments. The statement also called on the international community to provide assistance to support the Kabul Process.

The Security Council conducted a mission to Afghanistan from 21 to 24 June. The mission was led by Turkey, which also has the lead on Afghanistan in the Council. During the visit members of the Council met with Karzai and senior government officials, as well as a number of Afghani institutions and international stakeholders including UN agencies, ISAF, NATO and the EU. Members also visited Jalalabad where they met with local authorities, UN specialised agencies and Afghan returnees. Among the issues covered were the challenges to the forthcoming legislative elections, the security situation, reconciliation and reintegration and regional cooperation. Members of the Council stressed the need for free and fair elections, improved governance and the upholding of human rights in a press conference at the end of the visit.

On 30 June the Council held an open debate on Afghanistan. The permanent representative of Turkey gave an oral report of the Council’s mission to Afghanistan. Council members in their remarks touched on the challenges facing Afghanistan with many focusing on the upcoming legislative elections, the security situation and reintegration and reconciliation, as well as the Council’s recent visit to Afghanistan. The Austrian permanent representative, who is also chair of the 1267 sanctions committee (Al-Qaida and Taliban), provided information on the work being done on the 1267 sanctions list.

The 1267 Committee completed its review of the consolidated list of individuals and entities subject to its sanctions regime at the end of July. It reviewed 488 names, delisted 45 and confirmed 443. Ten of the delisted are Taliban members leaving 132 Taliban still on the list.

On 17 August Karzai said that he would be signing a decree ordering the disbanding of all private security forces by the end of the year.

Key Issues
A key issue is the impact of what appears to be a deteriorating security situation and how this could affect the UN’s ability to carry out its mandate effectively. The lack of safe accommodation is expected to be a constraint on the number of UN officials in Afghanistan, which is particularly relevant currently in the lead up to the elections.

Also an issue is the response to the UN report on the increase in the number of civilians killed and whether there is anything that the Council should say on the protection of civilians issue.

A potential future issue is maintaining security for those who are being protected by private security forces if no credible alternative is found to replace them by the deadline set by the Afghan government.

An issue related to the elections is whether the changes made to improve electoral oversight will result in less controversial elections, and if not, what impact there might be for the UN and for the overall political situation.

An important question is whether the framework for the Afghan government’s 23 national priority programmes will be finalised by October as promised during the Kabul Conference. A related issue is how well the international community is succeeding in realigning aid programmes to fit these priority areas.

Underlying Issues
A key underlying problem is the continuing high levels of corruption in the public sector in Afghanistan and the backlash both domestically and from the international community if attempts to combat corruption do not stop progress.

Also an underlying problem is the reluctance on the part of some members of the international community to be subject to aid coordination.

Options
A possible option is a statement following de Mistura’s briefing touching on the outcome of the legislative elections and looking ahead to the work to be done following the elections.

Another possible option is informal Council discussions on how the Council should respond to and give support to the next phase in the Kabul Process taking into account the commitments made at the Kabul Conference.

A related option is to request the Secretary-General to provide more detailed information about the integrated strategic framework for UNAMA and how the UN country team will be working together on key priorities.

Also a possibility, taking advantage of the high-level session of the General Assembly is to have an informal interactive dialogue following up the Council mission to Afghanistan and intensifying the focus on the next steps in the Kabul Process.

Council Dynamics
With the Afghanistan report and briefing scheduled for the second half of September and given that the General Assembly general debate starts in the third week of September, Council members seem conscious that they will not be able to give much attention to Afghanistan and the UNAMA report until very close to the date of the discussion.

A number of members seem to feel that the next six months should be a period of consolidation. Therefore no major decisions are likely before March 2011 when the mandate is renewed.

Some members like Austria, Gabon and Mexico have shown concern about the high number of civilians and children being killed in this conflict and may want to highlight UNAMA’s midyear report on civilian casualties.

While Council members have accepted that UNAMA’s good offices role allows it to get involved in reconciliation activity, there is still a lack of consensus about what this really should entail. France for example has suggested that de Mistura should help launch negotiations. Others seem likely to prefer a less active role for UNAMA in this area.

The Council visit to Afghanistan seems to have provided members with a better insight into the difficult security situation in Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether this will affect their views on what UNAMA may need in order to carry out its mandate.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1917 (22 March 2010) extended UNAMA’s mandate 23 March 2011.
  • S/RES/1890 (8 October 2009) extended the ISAF mandate until 13 October 2010.
  • S/RES/1401 (28 March 2002) created UNAMA.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • SC/9992 (23 July 2010) was the Council press statement on the Kabul Conference.
  • S/2010/353 (1 July 2010) was the quarterly ISAF report from 1 November 2009 to 31 January 2010.
  • S/PV.6351 (30 June 2010) was the Council June debate on Afghanistan.
  • S/2010/325 (14 June 2010) was the terms of reference for the Council mission to Afghanistan.

 

Other Relevant Facts

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

Staffan de Mistura (Sweden)

UNAMA: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Strength (as of 31 May 2010): 338 international civilians, 1,380 local civilians, 16 military observers, 48 UN volunteers
  • Duration: 28 March 2002 to present; mandate expires on 23 March 2011

ISAF Military Commander

General David Petraeus (US)

Senior Civilian Representative

Ambassador Mark Sedwill (GBR)

ISAF: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Total strength (as of 6 August 2010): about 119,819 troops
  • Contributors of military personnel: 47 NATO and non-NATO countries
  • Current top contributors: US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Canada
  • Duration: 20 December 2001 to present; mandate expires on 13 October 2010

Operation Enduring Freedom: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Current strength: 13,500 (this is an estimate as the troop numbers shift continuously)
  • Lead contributor: US
  • Duration: 7 October 2001 to present

 

Additional Useful Sources

  • UNAMA Human Rights: “Afghanistan: Mid Year Report 2010 Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, August, 2010 http://info.publicintelligence.net/UN-Afghan-Civilians-2010.pdf
  • Kabul Conference Communiqué, 20 July 2010

 

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