Debate on UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Tomorrow morning (27 June) the Council is scheduled to hold its quarterly debate on the situation in Afghanistan. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is set to brief. It also appears that there is interest in having Stephen Evans, NATO’s Assistant-Secretary-General for Operations and Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), brief as well although this had not been confirmed at press time. No outcome was anticipated at press time.
Several key issues related to the situation in Afghanistan will likely be on the minds of Council members. One is the progress of the transition from the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) to Afghan security forces, and the generally fragile security environment. It seems that the upcoming Secretary-General’s report (which has been circulated to Council members but not publicly released) recognises the timeframe that the 20-21 May NATO Chicago Summit endorsed for the drawdown of its military presence in Afghanistan, while noting the importance of long-term international support for Afghanistan’s development. Council members are likely to be interested if Evans briefs in having more details on the Chicago Summit, as well as on NATO’s role in Afghanistan moving forward.
Another area of ongoing concern to some Council members is the drug trade emanating from Afghanistan. Fedotov, while speaking to the press at the noon briefing of the Secretary-General today (26 June), noted that Afghanistan is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s production of opium. If he briefs the Council tomorrow, it is possible that Fedotov will talk about his recent visit to the country (28-30 May), during which he collaborated with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics to initiate UNODC’s Country Programme in Afghanistan for 2012-2014 He may also discuss the elements of this programme. Given that Fedotov participated today in a thematic debate on “Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development” in the General Assembly, he may discuss this issue in the context of Afghanistan.
Council members may also be interested in discussing the upcoming Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, scheduled for 8 July. Some members see this as an important conference as commitments made there will play an important role in bolstering development efforts in Afghanistan. There is widespread recognition on the Council that long-term development assistance will play a crucial part in helping Afghanistan to strengthen its institutions and develop economically as ISAF draws down its presence. (On 21 June, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he expected the conference to raise $4 billion in civilian assistance for his country.)
Other key issues of interest to several Council members that will likely be discussed in tomorrow’s debate include national reconciliation, human rights (including the rights of women), and civilian casualties resulting from violence in the country.
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