Annan urges expanded international contribution to security in Afghanistan

Annan urges expanded international contribution to security in Afghanistan

With sporadic factional violence persisting in Afghanistan, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the expansion of the international security presence in the country as it emerges from decades of war.

“Adversaries of the peace process have not renounced the use of violence as an instrument to destabilize the Government and prevent the consolidation of peace,” the Secretary-General notes in a report released today at UN Headquarters in New York. “They are actively trying to take advantage of popular frustration with the pace of reconstruction, continued insecurity, and abuses by the local commanders which have re-emerged in the wake of the fall of the Taliban.”

The report documents the activities of local militias which prevent civilian administrators from fulfilling their tasks, extort tribute from farmers and businessmen and engage in factional fighting which displaces the local population and creates an environment where human rights are easily abused.

Noting that the creation of national security forces and the strengthening of the justice system are key to the restoration of law and order, Mr. Annan stresses that the success of these endeavours “depends first and foremost on the commitment of the major factions that have established a military presence extending over various parts of the country.” At the same time, he points out that “the restoration of security also depends on international assistance,” and urges donors to make contributions towards that end.

Hailing the success of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which operates in and around Kabul, the Secretary-General reiterates his call for ISAF’s expansion beyond the Afghan capital as a relatively simply and cost-effective means of promoting stability.

The report also points to other ways to counter instability, including rehabilitation of the war-ravaged country. “The reconstruction of the physical, economic and social infrastructure of Afghanistan is critical to the viability of the peace process,” Mr. Annan says. “The creation of jobs and new economic opportunities is needed to restore hope and confidence within the population at large.”

While the Government has achieved much progress since its establishment earlier this year, it remains “very much under-resourced,” the Secretary-General reports, arguing that the total needs of a country recovering from over two decades of conflict, destruction and drought outstrip even the $1.8 billion generously pledged at a donor conference held in January.