Deteriorating security threatens peace process in Afghanistan - UN envoy

Deteriorating security threatens peace process in Afghanistan - UN envoy

Lakhdar Brahimi addressing the Council
The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today told the Security Council that deteriorating security conditions continue to cast a long shadow over the peace process and future of the country, and called for the creation of Afghan security forces capable of ensuring lasting tranquillity.

In an open briefing to the Council, Lakhdar Brahimi, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said although specific aspects of the Bonn Peace Agreement are proceeding, "the process as a whole is challenged by deterioration in the security environment, which stems from daily harassment and intimidation, inter-ethnic and inter-factional strife, increases in the activity of elements linked to the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and the drugs economy."

Mr. Brahimi told the Council that rivalries between factions and local commanders, impunity for human rights violations, and the daily harassment of ordinary Afghan citizens by both commanders and local security forces were all too common. "There are also now almost daily attacks by elements hostile to the central government and those who support it," he added.

He noted that the attacks had of late been directed at international humanitarian organizations, and as these become more threatening, "the pressure to suspend or withdraw operations increases." The UN was also undertaking a critical review of its operations and of its security measures, he added.

Mr. Brahimi stressed that security would even be more vital for the preparation and organization of the country's elections called for under Bonn. The UN Mission there is in the process of establishing an electoral unit and early planning for the national voter registration, he said, adding that Afghanistan's own electoral capacity is not yet ready.

The Transitional Authority, with the support of various UN agencies and international organizations, is trying to help resolve these tensions however, "insecurity and the absence of effective state judicial institutions, unfortunately, remains the rule rather than the exception," he said.

"Clearly the ultimate solution to such problems lies in creating Afghan security forces capable of ensuring peace," Mr. Brahimi said, stressing that senior military leaders must match their verbal support for a multi-ethnic army with actions to demobilize their own forces to ensure that the new army will be under civilian control.

Although the Bonn process could never be expected to be easy, Mr. Brahimi warned, "there is a real but still avoidable risk that the Bonn process will stall if security is not extended to the regions, and that Afghans will lose confidence in the central government if it cannot protect them."