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Better coordination of efforts to help Afghanistan priority for new UN envoy

Better coordination of efforts to help Afghanistan priority for new UN envoy

Kai Eide of Norway (file photo)
Improving coordination of international efforts to help bring peace and development to Afghanistan will be a key priority for the United Nations, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the strife-torn nation pledged today.

Kai Eide, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told his first press conference in Kabul that he wants to “create a new sense of momentum and a new sense of urgency” in the way international efforts are coordinated.

Mr. Eide just returned from Bucharest, Romania, where he joined Mr. Ban, President Hamid Karzai and other leaders at last week’s high-level meeting on Afghanistan, held as part of the summit of the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In Bucharest, Mr. Ban acknowledged that the UN has not been as effective as it needs to be in coordinating the international community, adding that the new Security Council mandate will allow the world body to take a more assertive role in coordination.

“We have to get away from a situation where an Afghan administration which is still in need of capacity-building is faced with a too fragmented international community,” Mr. Eide stated. “And we have to make sure that the agenda that we pursue is the Afghan agenda and not a number of national agendas.

Among the coordination structures in place is the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), co-chaired by the UN and set up in 2006 to monitor implementation of the Afghanistan Compact – a five-year blueprint for the country’s reconstruction.

Related to the issue of better coordination is the question of aid efficiency, the Special Representative noted. “We have to ask ourselves, do we have adequate resources, do we spend them well enough, do we spend them sufficiently through Afghan channels and budgets, and can we eliminate duplication,” he said.

Mr. Eide added that the Bucharest meeting was “very encouraging” for the UN, since it reaffirmed that the international community wants a stronger and more prominent role for the Organization in the country.

The meeting also displayed a strong international commitment to help Afghanistan not just by increasing troop levels but also by strengthening efforts in reconstruction and development and in governance. “I have never before seen such a strong international commitment to a broadly-based international effort to support Afghanistan,” he said.