The Security Council today extended the United Nations presence in Afghanistan for another year, while recognizing the key role played by the world body in coordinating international efforts in the country and in supporting upcoming elections.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body renewed the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until 23 March 2010, and decided that the Mission and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Kai Eide, will continue to lead international civilian efforts in the country.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate, and particularly the Council’s reaffirmation of the UN’s “central and impartial role” in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“The Secretary-General also warmly welcomes the Security Council’s recognition of Mr. Eide’s leadership, who working closely with Afghan political leaders, has led the efforts of the international community to set priorities and rationalize their assistance to Afghanistan,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
These efforts include supporting the Government’s efforts to improve governance and the rule of law and fight corruption, as well as facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
They also include supporting, at the request of the Afghan authorities, preparations for the 20 August presidential elections. The Council underscored the importance of the polls to the country’s democratic development, and called for “all efforts to be made to ensure the credibility, safety and security of the elections.”
Mr. Ban, in his latest report on Afghanistan, stated that the Government and people of the strife-torn nation, as well as their international partners, face a critical test with the holding of the elections this year.
The 20 August election date set by the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission is three months after the presidential term expires on 22 May. This has generated “constitutional uncertainty” over the President’s legitimacy after 22 May, he noted.
“There is no higher responsibility in Afghanistan right now than that of the three branches of government to find a solution to the constitutional issue in a way that ensures the existence of a functioning Government between 22 May and the inauguration of the next presidential term,” he stresses.
The elections are likely to feature prominently on the agendas of two upcoming meetings on Afghanistan – in Moscow on 27 March and in The Hague on 31 March.
Mr. Ban, who will be attending both meetings, said that he intends to press the international community to produce a clear, unified course for helping to bolster Afghan security, stability and development.
He will also stress the need to strengthen regional and international cooperation, he told an informal gathering of the General Assembly today.
The Secretary-General also briefed the Assembly on his participation at the upcoming G-20 Summit in London, stressing that the stakes at that meeting are large.
The UN chief said that he has sent a letter to all G-20 leaders, urging them to show leadership in four areas: providing a substantial and truly global stimulus package that also meets the needs of all developing countries; standing firm against protectionism; moving towards a “Green New Deal;” and reforming global rules and institutions.