Despite insecurity, Afghanistan peace process 'on track,' Brahimi tells Security Council
“The peace process is on track,” Lakhdar Brahimi said at the outset of a daylong open meeting of the Council, which heard statements from representatives of some 30 countries. “To be sure, it is a fragile peace, which must be handled with great care so that it does not unravel.”
Mr. Brahimi, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, highlighted several areas of progress over the past few months, including the holding of the Emergency Loya Jirga, as stipulated in the Bonn Agreement.
He noted that the country had also seen a restart of primary education, the return of more than one million refugees and internally displaced persons and a modest but determined poppy eradication campaign, as well as a successful locust control programme and a series of nationwide vaccination campaigns that reached millions of children.
Despite those achievements, countless challenges and problems remained, with security the foremost among them, the UN envoy stressed. The assassination of Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir served as a tragic reminder that, "whatever successes we may have witnessed so far in Afghanistan, a singe act or event can send fear down the spines of the most powerful people in Afghanistan, and has the potential to seriously destabilize the situation," he said.
While the real key to the restoration of security lay in the creation of a national army and police force, Mr. Brahimi urged that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), currently operating only in Kabul and which has been instrumental in stabilizing the capital, be expanded to other parts of the country. Such an expansion would have an "enormous" impact on security, and could be achieved with relatively few troops, at relatively little cost, and with little danger.
Turning to the work of the Afghan Transitional Authority and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr. Brahimi said the Afghan leadership would have to translate the priorities outlined by President Hamid Karzai into achievable objectives and that over the next 18 months, the UN would help the Government build national capacity and confidence in "governance systems" so that international assistance will flow more directly to the Administration.
"The challenge before us now is to prove to the people of Afghanistan that we will not disengage until we have made good on our promises to them, and that we will not allow setbacks to reverse our course," Mr. Brahimi said. "We owe this to the Afghan people, and to regional and global security, for we know all too well that instability in that remote part of the world can have grave repercussion far beyond the borders of Afghanistan."
- Briefing by Lakhdar Brahimi