September 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2011
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ASIA

Afghanistan

Expected Council Action
In September the Council is expected to hold an open debate on Afghanistan and receive a briefing from the head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Special Representative Staffan de Mistura. The Secretary-General’s quarterly report is also expected in September. No Council decisions are expected.

UNAMA’s mandate expires on 23 March 2012.

Key Recent Developments
UNAMA’s mid-year report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict documented a 15 percent increase in conflict-related civilian deaths in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. Of the deaths, 80 percent were attributed to anti-government elements and 14 percent to pro-government forces.

The violence in Afghanistan has continued to escalate. Key tribal figures or government officials were killed, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, and Ghulam Haidar Hameedi, mayor of Kandahar. Attacks were also carried out on high-security targets, such as the Intercontinental Hotel and the British Council in Kabul, government buildings in Parwan and southern Afghanistan, and a coalition helicopter.

On 16 July, 14 former Afghan Taliban leaders were removed from the Taliban sanctions committee list at the request of the Afghan government.  On 29 June a Pakistan-based group, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, was added to the list.

In mid-July the transfer of security tasks to Afghan local security forces began in Bamiyan province, followed by the provincial capitals of Mehtar Lam, Lashkar Gah, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Panjshir.

On 10 August, Karzai issued a decree stating that courts could not alter election results, giving the Independent Election Commission (IEC) the responsibility for deciding if any legislators had won their seats through fraud. On 21 August, the IEC announced it would replace nine parliamentarians. De Mistura’s statement supporting the IEC decision led to protests outside the UNAMA office on 23 August.

In June, US President Barack Obama announced he would withdraw 33,000 of the 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The UK, France and Germany have indicated that their troop withdrawals would follow a similar schedule.

Human Rights-Related Developments
In July, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission published a report of its investigation of causes of trafficking in women and children. The Commission conducted 457 interviews with the victims of trafficking and 1,871 interviews with the general public in 20 provinces between November 2010 and May 2011. According to the report, 45 percent of all trafficking cases relate to girls and 38 percent to women, while 19 percent relate to boys. The Commission recommended that the government develop awareness-raising programmes in coordination with civil society organisations and international agencies tackling the trafficking of Afghani women and children, and in liaison with the countries of destination and transit.

Key Issues
A key issue is the sharply deteriorating security situation and its impact on UNAMA’s ability to carry out its mandate.

Other ongoing issues for the Council include:

  • whether the Council could provide any guidance at this point to the Secretariat on its expectations for the review of UNAMA’s mandated activities and UN support in Afghanistan as asked for in resolution 1974
  • whether the IEC decision will be implemented and what effect that could have on the political situation; and
  • whether the Council should pay greater attention to the UN’s involvement in the early November Istanbul conference, which will focus on regional cooperation, and the Bonn conference in early December. Among the issues likely to be discussed at the Bonn conference are the civilian aspects of the transition including mediation, human rights, and coordination of assistance until 2014, long-term international support to Afghanistan and reconciliation.  

A future issue is UNAMA’s role in the post-transition landscape.

Options
The Council could:

  • simply receive de Mistura’s briefing and hold a debate, with each country stating its positions; or 
  • adopt a statement reflecting the Council’s concern about recent attacks, highlighting the upcoming Istanbul and Bonn conferences, the review of UNAMA’s activities and overall UN support.

Council Dynamics
Most Council members are interested in an update on the situation in Afghanistan but are not anticipating taking any immediate action. There is a general sense that Afghanistan and UNAMA will become more of a priority towards the end of the year following the Istanbul and the Bonn conferences.

There is awareness that the deteriorating security situation could affect UNAMA’s ability to implement its mandate, but most members are not ready to re-evaluate the mandate until its review is completed. This issue may be taken up in October when the Council re-authorises the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

There is consensus among Council members on the importance of Afghan leadership during this transition period. While there are differences over the approach to some issues, such as civilian casualties, Taliban reconciliation and UNAMA’s regional role, it appears that, overall, Afghanistan is not a particularly contentious issue among Council members at the moment.

Germany is the lead country on Afghanistan.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1974 (22 March 2011) renewed UNAMA’s mandate until 23 March 2012.
  • S/RES/1943 (13 October 2010) extended ISAF’s mandate until 13 October 2011.
  • S/RES/1401 (28 March 2002) created UNAMA.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • S/PV.6574 (6 July 2011) was the July open debate.

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 2011): 415 international civilians, 1,647 local civilians, 11 military observers, 2 police, 59 UN volunteers
Duration: 28 March 2002 to present; mandate expires on 23 March 2012

ISAF Military Commander  

Gen. David Petraeus (US)

Senior Civilian Representative

Ambassador Simon Gass (UK)

ISAF: Size, Composition and Duration

Total strength (as of 16 August 2011): about 130,697 troops; 28 Provincial Reconstruction Teams
Contributors of military personnel: 48 NATO and non-NATO countries
Current top contributors: US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Poland
Duration: 20 December 2001 to present; mandate expires on 13 October 2011

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