December 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2010
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action

In December the Council is expected to receive the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on key developments in Afghanistan. At press time it was unclear if the Council would take up the report before the end of 2010 or in early January.

Council members are likely to focus on the follow-up to the Kabul Conference, and the recent elections and the Lisbon NATO summit. Some members may also want to discuss the benchmarks and implementation of UNAMA’s mandate ahead of its expiry on 23 March.

Key Recent Developments
At the NATO summit in Lisbon on 19 and 20 November, NATO leaders backed the strategy to transfer leadership to Afghan forces by 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also signed an agreement on NATO-Afghanistan partnership. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon welcomed the decisions at the summit but also stressed the need to be flexible and guided by realities rather than schedules.

There was a spike in violent attacks by the Taliban in October and November. Four suicide bombers attacked the UN compound in western Herat on 22 October. Both the UN Secretary-General and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strongly condemned the attack. On 13 November the Taliban attacked the main airport and a foreign military base at Jalalabad in east Afghanistan. On 14 November a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of Afghan and NATO-led troops outside Kabul. In early November, Taliban fighters raided a NATO outpost in southeastern Afghanistan.

On 15 November the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which has two UN-appointed commissioners, completed verifying complaints. The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) certified results from 33 of 34 provinces on 24 November. The final province to be certified is Ghazni where a deteriorating security situation led to many voters not being able to cast their ballot. UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura welcomed the certification and supported the IEC’s decision not to finalise certification of the results in Ghazni. The IEC has disallowed a quarter of the votes as invalid and the ECC has disqualified 24 candidates, seven of them current members of parliament, for alleged fraud.

The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, co-chaired by the UN and the Afghan government, met on 15 November. It discussed the steps taken to establish a framework for governance, security and development leading to greater Afghan responsibility and action plans for the Afghan government’s 22 National Priority Programmes.

The fourth Regional Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan was held in Istanbul from 2 to 3 November. The meeting was attended by 27 countries and 14 regional and international organisations, institutions and bodies. Regional aspects of the objectives in the Kabul Conference were discussed.

In mid-November, Karzai criticised the US military’s use of special-operations night raids, suggesting that the US needed to reduce the visibility and intensity of its military actions. Karzai’s statement raised questions about possible differences between Karzai and the US administration on this issue.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 19 October, the working group of the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) on the use of mercenaries welcomed as “a step in the right direction” a recent report by the US Senate’s armed-services committee on US private security contractors in Afghanistan. The chair of the expert body urged stronger oversight of US private security contractors in Afghanistan. The working group presented a draft text for a new treaty on the regulation of private military and security companies to the HRC during its September 2010 session. The HRC decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental group to consider developing an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.


Key Issues
With UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) mandate coming up for renewal in March, a key issue is for the Council to start discussing UNAMA’s priorities for the coming year.

A related issue is whether UNAMA needs to realign its resources to support the Afghan government’s priorities following the Kabul Conference.

A continuing key issue for the Council is the security situation. Some observers have expressed concern that there could be a further escalation of violence as US troops begin to withdraw.

Another key issue is the credibility of the elections.

Also an issue is the role of the UN in the broader peace process and whether the Council should support more direct UN involvement in inter-Afghan and regional reconciliation discussions.

A related issue is what UNAMA can do to play a more active role in electoral reform.

Options
The most likely option is for the Council to hear de Mistura’s briefing but take no action at this point.

A possible option is to initiate discussions at the expert level on UNAMA’s mandate renewal.

Also an option is a statement on the outcome of the parliamentary elections if the final results are out by the time the Council meets.

Council Dynamics
Most members do not see any urgent need for formal Council action in December. After a year during which there has been heavy international focus on Afghanistan, members appear to want to take a step back and allow for a period of consolidation. Also, Turkey, the lead country on Afghanistan, will be leaving the Council at the end of December and this may be another factor to why any action may only take place in early 2011.

Russia has become an increasingly active player on this issue, particularly on the issue of counter-narcotics. Other permanent members, such as the UK, the US and France, are strongly supportive of UNAMA and de Mistura.

Although the Council will lose two elected members, Japan and Turkey, who have played a key role on this issue, the 2011 Council will include Germany, the third largest troop-contributor to ISAF, and India, a close neighbour. Both are expected to take a keen interest in this issue.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1943 (13 October 2010) extended ISAF’s mandate until 13 October 2011.
  • S/RES/1917 (22 March 2010) extended UNAMA’s mandate until 23 March 2011.
  • S/RES/1401 (28 March 2002) created UNAMA.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • S/2010/548 (22 October 2010) was the quarterly ISAF report from 1 May 2010 to 31 July 2010.
  • S/PV.6394 (29 September 2010) was the September debate on Afghanistan.
  • SC/9992 (23 July 2010) was the Council press statement on the Kabul Conference.


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 30 September): 345 international civilians, 1,526 local civilians, 14 military observers, 57 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 (UK)

ISAF: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Total strength (as of 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 2011

Operation Enduring Freedom: Size, Composition and Duration

  • Current strength: 33,000 (this is an estimate as the troop numbers shift continually)
  • Lead contributor: US
  • Duration: 7 October 2001 to present

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