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Afghanistan: experts call for new UN office to monitor sanctions against Taliban

Afghanistan: experts call for new UN office to monitor sanctions against Taliban

In a bid to strengthen the international arms embargo against the Taliban and keep track of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, a group of experts has recommended the establishment of a new United Nations sanctions monitoring office based in Vienna.

The recommendation came in a just-released report by a five-member Committee of Experts, which was set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the request of the Security Council. Based on two months of fact-finding and information gathering work, the report explores the best ways to prevent the Taliban from acquiring arms, which are banned under a UN embargo, and from selling narcotics to purchase those weapons.

Following high-level talks with Afghanistan's six neighbours as well as other key players, the experts conclude that the most practical and cost-effective way to achieve this end would be through the establishment of a Vienna-based UN Office for Sanctions Monitoring and Coordination-Afghanistan.

The proposed UN office should employ sanctions enforcement teams to work with various border control and counter-terrorism services in the six States neighbouring Afghanistan, according to the report. The teams would help those countries to modernize all aspects of their border legislation, customs procedures and border control techniques.

The office would also employ specialists in illegal arms trafficking, drugs, money laundering and counter-terrorism. After collecting and analyzing information about the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, those specialists would be mandated to publish their findings widely.

The experts recommend locating the office in Vienna because of its relative proximity to Afghanistan and the surrounding region, and to the UN office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, which is based in the Austrian capital.

Other measures proposed in the report include banning the supply of aircraft turbine fuel, which the Taliban uses for its helicopters and fighter bombers, and monitoring the movement of acetic anhydride, a chemical used to produce heroin.

Several recommendations are directed at Afghanistan's neighbours, particularly Pakistan, where religious schools called madrassas provide a supply of recruits to the Taliban. "The Pakistan authorities should be urged to exercise greater control over the madrassas on their territory and the movement of people across their common border with Afghanistan," the report states.

The experts say their recommendations should be implemented "at least until such time as realistic and productive negotiations are held, leading to a lasting political settlement, within which must be incorporated a verifiable mechanism for the closure of all terrorist training facilities and a plan to repatriate non-Afghan terrorists."