What's In Blue

Posted Tue 20 Mar 2012

Debate on Afghanistan

The Council is scheduled to hold a debate on the situation in Afghanistan this morning (20 March), which is likely to include discussion on the Secretary-General’s recent report (S/2012/133). Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMA, is likely to brief. Council members are currently negotiating a draft resolution renewing the mission’s mandate for another 12 months, which is scheduled for adoption on Thursday (22 March).

At press time, it does not appear that there will be significant changes to UNAMA’s mandate. There seems to be strong support among Council members for existing elements of the mission’s role relating to support for national reconciliation, the rule of law, elections and development. It seems Council members are in favour of promoting greater Afghan ownership of security, political and economic issues, especially as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) begins to draw down. Accordingly, it appears that the resolution will emphasise the transition towards greater Afghan ownership of its future.

One issue of particular interest to some members appears to be the UN’s role in future elections, particularly given past Afghan reservations about the nature of UN involvement. (Afghanistan is scheduled to hold presidential elections in 2014, and parliamentary elections in 2015.) At press time, it seems that Council members were awaiting more information from Afghanistan on how the UN could best provide electoral support.

In today’s discussion it is likely that the fragile security situation in the country will be a key focus. Other areas that might come up are the issue of refugees, which appears to be of concern to Pakistan, and the terrorist threat posed by extremists in Afghanistan, which has been a problem for India. In the past, Russia has expressed alarm about drug trafficking and civilian casualties in the conflict.

Another area of concern that might be raised is the status of the reconciliation process in the country, especially in light of the Taliban’s recent decision to suspend the operation of its Qatar office and its apparent reluctance to engage in direct talks with the Karzai government.
Recognising that UNAMA is only one element of broader international engagement in the country, some members appear keen to see how commitments outlined by Afghanistan and the international community at the Bonn Conference in December 2011 may be confirmed at upcoming conferences in Chicago (May) and Tokyo (July).

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