Long-term support for Afghanistan’s socio-economic development is vital as the country proceeds on its path towards assuming full responsibility for its security, governance and development, top United Nations officials told the Security Council today.
The Council’s meeting comes ahead of the international conference on Afghanistan to be held in Tokyo on 8 July which is intended to engage on long-term and predictable international economic, development and governance assistance, as well as regional economic cooperation.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on Afghanistan to the Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, said that significant progress affecting Afghanistan had been made during two international conferences in Kabul and Chicago, and the same is expected next month in Tokyo.
“This progress is beginning to define and shape the future of Afghanistan as it makes its way towards self-reliance,” he said, adding that security alone will not bring lasting stability and peace to Afghanistan.
“Just as we have seen progress in defining long-term support to the security side, it is equally important to see the same level of commitment to the socio-economic development sector,” he stated. He added that he looked forward to the Tokyo conference as an important step in this direction.
In his report on Afghanistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that the Tokyo conference “must deliver a clear message that Afghanistan will not be abandoned in its development and social needs,” adding that tangible commitments are required regarding long-term support to Afghanistan, its self-reliance strategy and its national priority programmes.
Mr. Ladsous highlighted in particular that the production and trafficking of narcotics from Afghanistan undermines the stability of the region and affects the whole world.
Addressing the same Council meeting, and focussing on the narcotics aspect, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, said that Afghanistan produces around 90 per cent of the world’s opiates, and the southern part of the country is the world’s largest opium-producing region.
At the same time, Afghanistan also suffers from the highest rates of opiate prevalence in the world, as well as HIV/AIDS, he added.
“There are many challenges in Afghanistan, but I would encourage Member States to do everything possible to communicate the message that illicit drugs and crime are capable of undermining attempts to promote economic and social development in the country,” he stated.
Mr. Fedotov said his recent visit to the poppy fields in the province of Badakshan showed that eradication efforts must be more vigorously supported by alternative development programmes. And while Afghan authorities dealing with counter-narcotics are demonstrating their own commitment to combating poppy cultivation, much more needs to be done.
He highlighted a number of initiatives underway, including the $117 million country programme for Afghanistan that UNODC launched in May. The initiative, which is linked to the regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, as part of the Office’s overall strategy to provide a coherent field response to drug trafficking and ensure closer cooperation among regional and international actors.
In his remarks to the Council meeting, Mr. Ladsous also emphasized that all parties, particularly Afghan security forces, must continue to prioritize the protection of civilians.
Referring to the Secretary-General’s report, he noted that the recent “dramatic” decline in security incidents was marred by continued targeting of civilians by anti-Government elements, and 2011 marked the fifth consecutive year that civilian casualties increased overall.
“This is simply not acceptable,” he said. “We must continue to urge all parties to the conflict to increase their efforts to protect civilians and call for individuals responsible to be held accountable.”